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.)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mid-summer dream

A love dove quietly coos to its mate, a woodpecker drills into the bark of a tree. The breeze gently rustles through the oaks and maples, stirring the sweet perfume of roses and wild flowers blooming in the garden. Crickets rhythmically chirp out a summer symphony, while the first locusts buzz out a silent message.

Across the street, wind chimes tinkle, guardian angels keeping vigil. To the right, the old man sits on his porch, loudly talking to his daughter, remembering and reminiscing about family, friends and better times. To the left, a cacophony of noise erupts: talking, laughter, the sizzling of burgers on a grill, the popping of lids, the clinking of ice cubes, a splash in the water as they enjoy a relaxing pool party.

Me? I quietly sit on my front porch, swinging on my glider, sipping on a perfectly chilled glass of chardonnay, taking time to smell the roses on this beautiful mid-summer day, after surviving my near fatal heart attack one year ago.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight with Rachel Brimble

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight!

My guest today is Rachel Brimble. Rachel and I are sitting in the lily garden on this lovely summer day, chatting about her book

Sipping on a glass of perfectly chilled chardonnay at the umbrella table where Oliver has arranged a lovely vase of lilies,
Sharon waits for Rachel on the teakwood patio. Surrounded by a geometric sunken pool, cascading waterfall, lily pond and English rock garden, it’s a garden of paradise. Chaise longues with splashy colorful cushions encompassed the pool, and just beyond, fragrant eucalyptus trees landscape the lily arbor. Shrouded by lush evergreens, a Javanese bench offers a shady respite from the heat.  She by Elvis Costello softly plays in the background.

Oliver escorts Rachel onto the patio. Sharon hugs her guest and they make themselves comfortable while Oliver struts off to get refreshments, pumping his biceps.

Sharon: Hello, Rachel, how are you on this lovely summer day?

Rachel: Absolutely wonderful! Especially to be sitting in such a beautiful setting. I don’t know how you manage it.

Sharon: Thank you. While we wait for Oliver to bring out appetizers and cocktails, tell us about the setting of your book. I understand it’s in the UK.

Rachel: It is. Even though I write for the American market, I am British and have lived in South West England my entire life so all my books are set in the UK – which my readers seem to really like. This book is set in the fictional city of Foxton which is loosely based around my birthplace of Bristol. I tend to use real British places in my mind, but always give them fictional names to keep me out of trouble, lol! ; )

Oliver materializes, balancing a bottle of chardonnay and a platter of mini bruschettas above his head. Singing along to She, loudly and quite off key, he pours the wine in a glass and sets in front of Rachel, wildly winking. Plucking up a bite-size bruschetta, he plops it into her mouth, offering a bone-melting smile.

Rachel: Well, aren’t you just the charmer, Oliver? She smiles after savoring the tongue-tingling flavors of the bruschetta. Is he always this attentive to your guests, Sharon? Laughs.

Sharon: He kills himself trying.

With great ceremony, Oliver arranges cocktail plates and napkins.  Frowning, Sharon glares at her empty glass. Ignoring her, Oliver refills Rachel’s glass, madly winking the whole time.

Sharon: Do you have something in your eye, Oliver? Never mind, I’ll just pour my own wine. Run along, I’m sure you have things to do.  So, Rachel, do tell how the hero and heroine get it right this time.

Rachel: With a lot of problems in between! They overcome their own personal issues to make their relationship work but also find a way for both of them to be happy bearing in mind their totally different lives before they were reunited.

Kate is a widow, dedicated to the happiness of her child – Mark is a theatrical agent travelling all over the world for his rich and successful clients. But when love is the ultimate goal, anything is possible and these two work it out in a wonderfully united way.

Sharon As most of our fair ladies, I’m  dying to know what makes Mark Johnston, rumored by UK tabloids to be  one of their most eligible bachelors, Mr. Right for Kate?

Rachel: He’s always wanted her but when they knew each other before he was not the man he is today. Once laid-back, shy and happy to watch from afar, when his best friend disappeared half way around the world with Kate, the woman he loved, Mark changed. Now confident, determined and driven, he is exciting and masculine yet incredibly caring and considerate. It is a lethal combination and for Kate whose child looks at Mark like he’s the world, it is pretty damn hard not to accept he is her destiny.

Sharon: Sounds fabulous. Do you read tabloids, and if so, are you apt to believe it or not?

Rachel: I very rarely read tabloids or newspapers in general – there have been so many stories proven wrong over the years, so much unnecessary destruction to people and their families, that I tend to avoid them. Which is why I enjoyed writing the tabloid journalist so much in Getting It Right This Time. He’s a nasty, nasty piece of work!

Sharon: Good for you. Aside from drop dead gorgeous and a bod brimming with raw sexual energy, cause that’s a give in, grin, what character trait would be most attractive to you?

Rachel: I love vulnerability in a man, an easy way that they are able to laugh at themselves. I don’t like the serious, macho type at all. A man with an easy smile and easy laughter will get to me every time!

Oliver appears, pushing a caddy with coffee, mint ice tea and a decadent strawberry cheese cake. With the pizzazz of a French chef, he slices a huge hunk and feeds a bite to Rachel. As an after thought, he cuts a tiny smidgen for Sharon, muttering something about her putting on a few. Sharon shoots him a look to kill, turns to Rachel, beaming ever so brilliantly. Good help is so hard to find.

Rachel: He is certainly a character, isn’t he? He must really enjoy the attention of all the female romance writers you have come visit, lol!

Sharon: He’s one in a million.

A few minutes later, Oliver  struts out in his lime green Speedos and sunglasses, grinning broadly as he makes a beeline to the pool, James Bond martini in one hand, a hot off the press copy of Getting It Right This Time in the other.  Winks at Sharon." I’m through working for the day, boss lady, time to work on my tan whilst sitting poolside. I can’t wait to read Rachel’s book." Graces her with his most dazzling smile. "If I might so boldly have the honor of your autograph, love?"

Rachel: Laughs. Well, of course, Oliver. Why don’t you dive in and have a few lengths while I get to it. You look as though you need to cool off…

Sharon: Sadly, Rachel, this brings us to the end of our interview. Before we change into our bathing suits, my hobby is collecting legends and superstitions from my guests. Can you share one with me?

Rachel: There is a legend that back in the eighteenth century, an area not far from where I live called Cherill, was prone to highwaymen…with a difference. They would surprise their intended victims absolutely naked! They would approach the carriage and take as much as they could carry, with the knowledge that they would be harder to recognize with no clothing to speak of.

Not that I’m entirely convinced, they couldn’t have been identified in other ways…

Sharon: I love it! Where can readers buy this book and get in touch with you?

Rachel: Here is the buy link and all my links – I LOVE hearing from readers so please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.

Sharon: Thank you, and thank you for a delightful interview. Best of luck with Getting It Right This Time, m’dear. While we take a dip in the pool, we’ll leave readers with a teaser, shall we.


She's back, but this time she’s a mother…intent on protecting her young.

Two years after her husband’s death, Kate Marshall returns home seeking security and stability for her three-year-old daughter. But when her path crosses with ‘the one who got away’…her husband’s best friend, she has to fight the desire to be with him for the sake of further heartbreak for her and her daughter.

A tough, straight talking theatrical agent, Mark Johnston is dangerously handsome, exceedingly rich, irresistibly charming – and branded by the tabloids as one of the UK’s most eligible bachelors. So even though Mark lost the girl of his dreams to his best friend, he finds no hardship in being single. Or so he thought.

Determined not to lose her a second time, Mark has to find a way to convince her they can work.  But can Kate cope with the media interest and ruthless, money-hungry clients surrounding him, being anywhere near her daughter?  Or accept that Mark Johnston is really the family man he claims to be?

Kate pushed open the door on the salon and cursed the jingling bell announcing her arrival. No doubt Jo was ready to kill her. She took three steps inside when Jo shot out the back room, lunged forward with the panache of an Olympic gymnast and grabbed Kate’s upper arms.

“He came back!” she cried.

“What? Who?” Kate stared at her, completely bewildered by the look of pure ecstasy on her assistant’s face.

“Sexy Mark Johnston.”

A rush of heat surged over Kate’s body--only to be replaced with ice-cold perspiration bursting onto her upper lip. “What? Why?”
Jo squealed and clapped her hands together. “He brought you something.”

Kate’s echo died on her lips when Jo dragged her over to the payment counter. “Look!”

Pale pink ribbons were tied around the handles of the biscuit-colored picnic basket and a wide pink and white gingham ribbon circled its center. Both of the dual lids were ajar, one revealing a dozen pink carnations, the other a bottle of white wine so chilled the perspiration slid in occasional rivulets down its neck.

“Why would he do this?” Kate whispered, taking another step closer as a smile tugged at her lips.
She smoothed her hand over the surface of one of the handles and inhaled the aroma of freshly baked bread seeping from inside. Her stolen Weightwatcher lunch groaned inside her stomach.
“Open it. Open it,” Jo said, bouncing from one foot to the other.

“Oh, for goodness sake,” Kate huffed, yet dismally failing to curb her stupidly insistent grin.
Sighing theatrically, she lifted one of the lids and her breath caught. He’d bought her favorite granary bread, along with delicate slices of Parma ham and a thick wedge of creamy brie. Tears stung at her eyes, and she swallowed the ball of emotion in her throat.

“Oh, Mark.” She said the words on an exhalation as she carefully lifted a crisp white napkin to reveal two of the most delectable mini strawberry and fresh cream tarts she’d ever seen. Her absolute weakness.

She slowly closed the lid and re-arranged her expression into what she hoped was careless nonchalance before turning around. “When did he leave?”

“About ten minutes ago,” Jo said breathlessly. “Can you believe this? Isn’t it lovely?”

“What did he say?”
Her assistant frowned. “Aren’t you happy? Don’t you think it’s romantic?”

“Jo, focus. What did he say?”

Her blue eyes clouded, clearly displaying her disproval of Kate’s seemingly unappreciative response to such a thoughtful gesture. Kate smiled inwardly, knowing full well she’d be the topic of conversation between Jo and her friends at the wine bar later. Finally averting her gaze, Jo feigned interest in the bottles of lotion lining the shelves behind the counter.

“He said he was sorry he’d missed you and put that basket on the counter and then asked if he could borrow a pen and some paper.”

Kate stared at her turned back. “What for?”

She swiveled round. “To write you a note. The guy is obviously love-struck and you’re standing there as though he looks like Shrek after a mud-bath.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight with Debra Jayne East

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! Today’s guest is Debra Jayne East. Debra is here to chat about her debut novel RADIANCE…LOVE AFTER DEATH, a paranormal romance sure to tingle your senses. So, come along with us today as we slip from one world into the next.

Oliver and I are traveling in our sleek black limousine to Eden, North Carolina, one slick rainy evening to interview Debra Jayne East. Thunder explodes across the sky, followed by a flashing streak of lightning that illuminates a spooky cemetery on the end of a twisted road. . Rain hammers on the windshield, making it difficult to see. Suddenly, the car spins into the trunk of a tree, tossing us into the graveyard. When we awake, sunshine streaming, we spy our names eloquently inscribed on side-by-side headstones shrouded in desert roses. Unsure if we’re dead or alive, Debra floats toward us on a whisper of wings.

Sharon: Debra, where are we? Are we dead?

Debra: Almost, my dear. We're in the span of time between one second and forever. We are in that dimension between life and death; in the realm of the unseen world. It is invisible to the naked eye, but experienced spiritually by the soul. My dear friend Marena Jacobs has just travelled that passage of time. She's lying on the sidewalk there. Can you see her? Sharon and Oliver gasp.

Sharon: Well, as long as we’re all together, we might as well make the most of it and carry on with the interview, even though it is a bit peculiar being transported into another time and place. Oliver, dear heart, did the refreshments make it through the time tunnel?

Oliver, no worse for wear through the time tunnel, pumps his biceps, black t-shirt and low rider jeans intact. With a wink and a smile, he plucks up a desert rose and hands to Debra. Then with great ceremony, covers a tombstone with a picnic blanket and sets out Strawberry Zinfandel and stuffed portabella mushrooms while Watch over You by Alter Bridge echoes through the cemetery.

Oliver sloshes wine into three glasses, plopping a mushroom into Debra’s mouth.

Debra: Oliver, you are quite the charmer. Do you see that wrecked semi over there? I point for him with my long red fingernails. He ran a stoplight and hit Marena head on. Lucky for her she had someone watching over her or I wouldn't be telling her story. It just wasn't her time to die. 
I smile as Oliver gently plants a kiss on Sharon's neck.

Sharon sips her wine and helps herself to a mushroom. I’m glad your manners have improved somewhat, Oliver. You see, Debra, he used to ignore me in our other world. Now that we’re all settled, Debra, tell me all about RADIANCE…LOVE AFTER DEATH.

Debra: I gave angels a new beginning. Long ago they mated with mortal women and well, got swept away in a flood. What if this time...they could get it right? I got to explore all those possibilities in writing my first paranormal romance released by XOXO Publishing. It all started with finding a crooked heart-shaped stone. That part of the story is true. It was such a catalyst in turning my life around; I thought I would share it with others. Someone else found a heart-shaped stone, when she was at the end of her rope and wanted to die. I would like to take you on a journey with Marena Jacobs, who while on her way home from work one night, has a near death experience that alters her life. She never expected to meet the man of her dreams after she died. But something happened between them that changed her destiny forever. They had to be together whatever the cost. When we die are transported to the realm of another existence outside our earthly bodies. I believe in this other dimension our soul is separated from our body and that demons and angels both exist there. In my novel there is both. Just watch out if you come across anyone with a glint of red in their eyes because well...they won’t be angels.

Sharon looks around the cemetery, gulps back her wine and refills her glass. Ah, at the risk of sounding foolish, what made you want to write paranormal? 

Debra: Actually, I experienced things in my life that have no earthly explanation. I seemed to inherit a gift for reading people’s emotions. I mentioned finding a heart-shaped stone earlier. I was very depressed and going through a bad time in my life. I lost my first love. I reached down into the grass one day and there it was...the heart-stone. I couldn't see it until my fingers grabbed hold of it and pulled it out. I just felt my hand guided there by an unknown force. Then, I heard a voice clearly say, that even though my heart was broken and cracked like that stone, it was still a heart and I could still love. After that, two people came to me and said they knew I had found a heart stone. Now how did they know? I never told ANYONE! Since I have published this book other people have told me about finding a heart-shaped rock during a very tragic time in their lives. There are other things in the book based on true events but well...I'll never tell, I grin mischievously.

Sharon: Tell me about the research for a time travel.

Debra: Myself and one of my close friends had experienced near death during accidents. I remember being able to communicate without actually talking which was cool. I became interested after that and read every book I could get my hands on. The best book was called "Closer to the Light," by Melvin Morse, Paul Perry and Raymond Moody. It was about the near death experiences of children which to me was irrefutable. Then I saw a documentary on Lily Dale, New York which is a spiritualist community. I became drawn to this place like a moth to the flame. There are mediums in Lily Dale who can contact the unseen community. The houses are haunting yet beautiful. Lily Dale became a very climatic scene for my heroine, Marena Jacobs.

Sharon: One of your characters is blind. Being blind myself, I’m curious about how you handled the writing of this character?

Debra: I have always felt there was something mysterious and sexy about the eyes of a blind man. I'll have to admit, I have an amazing blind muse for guidance. He is a celebrity of sorts, so he has asked to be kept confidential for now. Many of the feats in my book were actually done by him. He rides horses, he has a black belt in karate, he cooks, builds things and he even mows his yard. He is one of the people who knew about the stone. He was in another state when he told me he could see it in his head and just remember he is blind. He couldn't see it so once again , how did he know? Do you hear twilight zone music, lol?

Sharon: I find it interesting and quite impressive that you were so greatly influenced by an Irish author. Do share.

Debra: My sister traced our family tree back to Britain. We noticed our relatives kept on using the same family names every hundred years or so. I had always loved my aunt Violet. Turns out she was named after a great aunt of mine, Violet Florence Martin. Violet and Edith Somerville were second cousins, and became lifelong companions and literary partners. A horse riding accident contributed to her death in 1915. Edith Somerville continued to write under their joint literary names, claiming that they were still in contact. Perhaps this is where my "gift" comes from, I reply with twinkling eyes.

Sharon: And you have another book to follow in this series. What’s in the works?

Debra: I am currently working on part two called Remnant...A Kiss from the Past. I'll sum it up by saying the things that go bump in the night from Lily Dale are coming to Eden. You know the old saying. "Where goodness is; evil follows. I’m nearly finished with a poetry book called Scattered Roses. I will then work on a science fiction novel about a urban legend called Snipe Hunt.

Sharon: Before Oliver and I are transported back in time, please share a favorite legend or superstition with me.

Debra: Actually, I can kill two birds with one stone. There is a legend around here based on true events. Its called the Brown Mountain lights. They are seen on the lower end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I will quote what many articles say about them. “Many individuals, scientific groups, and scientists have attempted to explain the ongoing phenomenon. None of their explanations fail to account for
one aspect or another of the lights. A 1922 study by Georgia Tech made the most frequently made conclusion. The lights, their report summarized, defy simple explanations."

They even based an X-Files show on them. My novel "Snipe Hunt," which is an urban legend about a mythical animal that roams the woods, will be tied in with the Brown Mountain lights. Hey, North Carolina is the place to be for bump in the night tales.

Oliver produces a copy of Radiance …Love after Death.

If I might be so bold as to ask for your autograph, love angel?

Debra: "Why Oliver, I thought you'd never ask."

Over dessert, oh so decadent cinnamon cream cheese bars, Debra will read an excerpt. Thank you, Debra, what fun this otherworldly interview has been!

Marena Jacobs was not your typical heroine. She was in her forties, overweight, divorced and a workaholic. She never thought she would be looking for love again at her age.

Driving home one rainy night to Eden, North Carolina, a near fatal car accident spirals her life into the twilight zone. Marena lay dead on the sidewalk, but her life was far from over. She had met the man of her dreams after she died.

Something happened in those seconds of time she passed from life to death. In the weeks ahead, she wakes up from a coma no longer overweight and haunted by what happened
to her. She realizes her true love had been watching her all along. "Beware of strangers," her grandma had always said. Now she knew why.

First, a blue jeaned leg with a black harness boot comes through the window and the other, soon after.

"I'm coming in, don't be afraid!" a deep voice bellowed. A man, maybe in his early forties, straightens up in front of the curtains, and I don't think I have ever seen anyone that tall in person before. He has to be six-foot eight or nine at least with long, brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. He's wearing a chambray shirt neatly tucked into his jeans. He stands there quietly, in a black over-coat and dark sunglasses. Just who has climbed in my window? He turns his head as if he's scanning the room.

"Could you manage to not look just yet, please? I'm in the tub." I try to grab the towel but can't reach it, so I just fold my arms across my chest. My face has to be red as a beet.

"Don't worry, I can't see you," he says calmly.

"Well, I'm right here in front of you. Hard to miss my red face," I snap.

"Honest, I can't see you, I'm blind."
I almost laugh, but I don't.

"Who are you?"

"David Martin. I'm two days late, I was supposed to be here Thursday, but the train had some mechanical problems which caused a delay."

I recalled, after a few seconds, that Selena said earlier that the person never showed up who is supposed to stay here. What is his name oh darn. it's Martin.

"Oh. well," I stutter. Mortified, I wonder what I'm going to do. Things like this always happen to me.

"What's your problem here, maybe I can help?" He takes a few steps closer. 

"Are you really blind?" I ask, unsure.

"Well, see if this will help you decide. He pulls out one of those folded, walking canes. Instantly leaping through the window when he whistles, is a small brown and white cocker spaniel dog.

"Meet Bradley, my official Seeing Eye dog, and this is my walking cane," he smiles.

He uses it to walk closer to me sweeping from left to right. He manages to avoid objects in his path, and he stops just a few feet away. Not a bad looking fellow, just intimidating, I think to myself.

My mind starts racing, and suddenly, I wanted to get out of this situation before
it got any worse. I realize I can stay in the tub all night, or get on with the evening, and ask him to help me. I swallow my pride. I become flustered but I try to sound calm.” It’s nice to meet you David. I seem to be stuck in the tub. I've been in an accident, and my knee isn't quite healed yet. Could you help me out?"

"I'll try."

I'm glad if I had to be stuck in an embarrassing predicament, that it's a blind man who has come to my rescue. The absurdity of the situation puts a blush on my face.

Before I could dwell on it too much, he comes over and lifts me out of the tub, into his arms. I'm getting him wet, but he doesn't seem to mind. As he holds me, his eyes never once look towards my face, or down at my body. Despite the fact, he seems unaffected by my nakedness; my body chooses to respond against my will.

A flush of excitement surprises me. He is so strong and the most masculine type of male I'd seen in a long

Where to reach me on the web:
Buy Link

I am the oldest of six girls from a rural community in Martinsville, Virginia. Writing has always been an escape for me. I found out it runs in my blood. Violet Florence Martin was an Irish author who co-wrote a series of novels with her cousin Edith Somerville under the pen name of Martin Ross in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was a relative of mine from my father's side. She passed her love of writing on down to me and I couldn't be happier.(So, that's why I enjoyed doing journals, bingo!)

A few years ago after almost dying during surgery, I decided I needed to leave behind a legacy for my children and grandchildren. I had always loved to write but I wasn't much of a typist, and it took me several months to learn Microsoft Word. I never gave up. Then I thought about Violet who had to write under a male name to get recognized in the publishing world back in the 1800's. She never gave up. If you want to do
something you find a way! Being a procrastinator though, I had put my manuscript on the shelf.

The final encouragement came from Stephanie Meyers. No, I don't know her personally but she spoke on Oprah one day. She looked into the camera and said some of you have a dream to be a writer so do it! It was a message meant for me! I mailed it off.

I KNEW it would be published. Three months later the wonderful people at XOXO Publishing said they believed in me and my novel, Radiance...Love after Death. I am the happiest I have ever been. Don't just follow your dreams embrace them!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight with Linda Swift

Hello and welcome to Wednesday Spotlight! I am pleased and honored to have my good friend and award-winning author Linda Swift in the house today.

I am looking forward to chatting with Linda about her newly released book THIS TIME FOREVER as it is Linda’s first historical novel and promises to be a book charged with emotion that will pull at your heart strings. With no further ado, let’s have a warm welcome for Linda Swift.

With a breathtaking backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the beautiful antebellum mansion is nestled deep in the lush forest of Tennessee.  White pine, oak and dogwood shade the manor, and  laurel and rhododendron-lined trails lead to the wrap-around verandah.  A slight breeze rustles through the trees, stirring the sweet fragrance of lilies of the valley, daisies and English primroses. A yellow rose garden and gazebo add to the charm of the mansion. With a clomping of hooves, a horse-drawn carriage arrives to drop off Linda. Oliver, donned as a Southern gentleman in black trousers and red jacket, presents Linda, eloquently dressed as a Southern Belle in pale yellow satin and sun bonnet, with a bouquet of yellow roses.

For you, my sweet, allow me the pleasure of escorting you into the parlor.

Linda: For me? Thank you, dear Oliver. My favorite color and a perfect match to my gown. She gives Oliver a radiant smile as she takes the bouquet and buries her face in the lovely flowers, inhaling their intoxicating fragrance. She lifts her head and places her dainty hand on Oliver's proffered arm and they walk slowly toward the mansion.

Sharon, dressed in green satin, sits in waiting on the claw-leg cream-colored sofa.  A Baby Grand piano is in the corner and  Elvis’s My Way plays on the victrola.

Sharon hugs her friend. Linda, how are you, m’dear? Have a seat while Oliver tends to refreshments.

Linda: Sharon, dear friend, how lovely to see you again. And I am delighted to see you looking so well. And beautiful, I must add. Your gown is so becoming with your fair complexion. And what a magnificent home you have. It reminds me of Whitehaven.

Sharon: Thank you for the kind compliment, Linda. Might I say the same about you. You look so lovely.

Oliver materializes, pushing a silver caddy. He winks at Linda and pumps his biceps. With a sweeping bow, he presents a pitcher of  pina coladas swimming with strawberries and bananas, along with a tray of rye crackers smothered with cream cheese, chopped olives and pecans. He pours some of the tantalizing concoction into a glass for Linda. Gazing into her eyes, he spreads the cheese on a cracker and plops it into Linda’s mouth.

Linda: She gives him a coquettish smile as she swallows.  Ummmm. Delicious. She takes the fragile crystal glass he proffers and sighs happily. My favorite drink. You do know how to please a Southern girl, Oliver.

Sharon stares at her empty glass. I wouldn’t mind sampling one of those cocktails and scrumptious appetizers, Oliver.

Oliver: Sure thing, boss lady, I made plenty. Knock yourself out.

Sharon serves herself and scows at her butler. You’re not much of a Southern gentleman. Don’t you have work to do? Run along so that I can talk to Linda.

Oliver leaves, blowing kisses.

Sharon: This Time Forever is your first historical. How interesting. What made you decide on this genre?

Linda: I've always wanted to write historicals. It just took me a while to get started. I shied away from all the research required and felt I might not be able to write with authenticity. And there's nothing worse than a book written in a past time period with contemporary words or use of things not in existence then.

Sharon: I so agree, Linda. Research is so vital to a book. Tell me about the research for this book.

Linda: I had to read a stack of history books before I began writing. And throughout the months that the work was in progress, I frequently referred to them.  I knew what I wanted to happen but I often had to stop and read about that particular battle or a medical procedure or custom in order to get the facts right. I sometimes wove a particularly moving event into my story. An example was when the Northern and Southern armies were camped adjacent to each other, and that Christmas Eve night they began singing. Each side could hear the other's plaintive songs. I'm getting chills just remembering this.

Sharon: Apparently you did your homework well, my friend. I just got word that THIS TIME FOREVER won book of the week at LASR. Congratulations, what an honor.

Thunderous applause explodes through cyberspace as Linda graciously smiles

Sharon: Along with so much heartache in the book, this is a romance that will be certain to evoke emotion from readers. Tell us about the hero and heroine of the story.

Linda: Philip was a very moral person with strong ideals about serving his fellow man. He had a fiancée in his hometown and a very caring family whom he loved. Against his will, he came to love Clarissa more than all else. Clarissa was the typical Southern belle but she grew to be a woman of strength. Unfortunately, she had a brutish husband and child and felt duty bound to stay in her marriage. The story includes the struggle of Philip and Clarissa to find happiness together in spite of all the obstacles.

Sharon: As you wrote this book, what went through your head? Did you feel a connection to your characters and their love for one another?

Linda: Oh, yes. I was a part of their lives. I suffered right along with them. After I wrote for a few hours, I would be "wrung out" emotionally. It was fortunate my husband was away on a consulting job while I wrote much of the book because I was so focused on these characters and events that I found it difficult to get back into the real world every day. And strangely enough, the saddest part of the book for me was the scene where a minor character died in battle. I knew he had to die, but his actual death in a cold, muddy field seemed to epitomize the whole tragic war. And another scene I can't forget even now was when one of the aristocratic sons came home from the war horribly disfigured to face his unsuspecting family and their immediate reaction.

Oliver appears with dessert and peach ice tea. With a beguiling smile, he cuts a huge slice of coconut cream pie and spoon feeds a bite to Linda.

Linda: She closes her eyes in ecstasy as she tastes the delicacy. Ah, thank you, Oliver. There's nothing like something sweet to take your mind off gloom and doom. She eyes him appreciatively.

Reaching into the panel of his jacket, Oliver pulls out his hot off the press  copy of THIS TIME FOREVER

Linda, my lovely belle, might I have the honor of your autograph, please? He hands her a feather pen.

Linda: She eyes the pen and smiles. How quaint. And how like you to attend to even minute details like this. And of course, dear Oliver, I am honored to sign my book just for you. I'm going to add a personal note of gratitude also.  Sharon, I wonder if you know how very blessed you are to have Oliver at your beck and call. But of course you do.

Sharon: He has his moments. Sadly, my friend, we’re just about out of time. Before you go, can you share with me a favorite legend or quote, please.

Linda: This one by Saint Augustine comes first to my mind and I try to live by it. "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."

Sharon: Thank you, I’ll treasure that one close to my heart. Thank you so much for a delightful visit, Linda. Tell us where we can buy THIS TIME FOREVER

Linda: The ebook is available from my publisher, Champagne Books.
And from at this link.
The print book will also be available in August from these sources.

The Civil War brought casualties beyond the bloody battlefields as North fought South. Philip Burke, against his family's wishes, volunteered to defend the Union and became a prisoner of war who bartered his medical expertise to remain out of prison. When the Union Army invaded Tennessee, Clarissa Wakefield's antebellum mansion became
a Confederate hospital. Philip was placed in charge and against propriety she volunteered to stay on and help nurse the wounded. Clarissa's husband was a Confederate soldier and Philip'sfiancée waited for him in Oswego but the fire between them soon raged out of control.

As the opposing armies fought for possession of Chattanooga, Clarissa and Philip faced their own battle. Caught in the passions of war and love, with hurt inevitable
either way, would they be faithful to their vows or listen to their hearts?

Excerpt: (The first meeting of Philip and Clarissa)
Darkness came early at this time of year and Whitehaven was ablazewith lights when the first wagons filled with weary soldiers reached the city.

Everything was in readiness—the elegant furniture had been moved to the
second floor and attic, carpets had been rolled up and stored in the carriage house, and rows of cots lined the walls of the downstairs rooms. Pitchers, pans, and basins had been collected and stacks of bandages and other medical supplies filled the dining room sideboard. And in the kitchen soup simmered in every available pot and loaves of freshly baked bread were piled high on the table.

Harriet, Luke and the other slaves, having been informed of the new status of Whitehaven, waited with trepidation to learn what the conversion would bring. And the Wakefield women, their assigned tasks successfully completed, waited in the upstairs foyer, now serving as a small sitting room.

They wore dark mousseline traveling dresses and their portmanteaus and trunks were packed for the night’s journey to Fleur-de-Lis.Voices in the lower hallway announced the arrival of Josiah and the first of the Confederate visitors, and the women stopped their talking to eavesdrop unabashedly on the men’s conversation.
“Welcome to Whitehaven, Lieutenant Johnson.”

“Thank you, Mister Wakefield. Words cannot say how much we appreciate the use of your home as one of our hospitals.”

“It’s the least I can do, Lieutenant. I have two sons fighting for the cause, and lost a fine son-in-law at Antietam.”

“Ah, yes, I’m sorry for your loss, sir.” After a short pause the voice continued. “The wagons will be arriving momentarily so would you like to show Captain Burke and me the arrangements you’ve made before the sick
are brought in?”

The conversation faded as Josiah conducted a brief tour of the rooms below, then sent one of the servants to invite the ladies to join them in the lower hallway as Luke served the men glasses of whiskey.

“Oh, dear, must we?” Florence smoothed her hair and looked alarmed at facing the new tenants of Whitehaven.”

“Only for a moment, Mother,” Lydia said, “And then I’m sure Father will arrange for us to leave before those pathetic men arrive.”
With a resigned sigh, Florence followed Lydia down the stairs.
“This is so exciting,” Angeline whispered to her sister. “Just like the newspaper stories. Are you coming?”

“In a moment.” Instructing Polly to get Robert and Beau ready for their journey, Clarissa was the last to join the group at the foot of the curvedstairway where Josiah was completing the introductions of the other women.

“And this is my daughter-in-law, Mrs. Malcolm Wakefield. Ladies, may I present Lieutenant Johnson and Captain Burke?”

Clarissa made a slight curtsey to the lieutenant as he took herproffered hand and bowed politely.

“My pleasure, madam.”

Then she extended her hand part way toward the captain before she saw that he wore a faded Federal uniform. She stopped and glanced uncertainly at Lieutenant Johnson.
“Captain Burke is a Confederate prisoner, ma’am,” he told her, “but you have nothing to fear. He is also a surgeon and will be in charge of the hospital here.”

“Oh, I see.” Unsure what protocol dictated, again she tentatively extended her hand. It was taken with a touch so gentle she would not have felt it except for the tremor that passed between them at the contact, causing
her to look up into the most penetrating eyes she had ever seen.

For a long moment they stood, warm brown eyes lost in the depths of cool deep blue, then the captain made a visible effort to break the spell andspoke softly. "Charmed."

Linda Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. She has worked in public education as a teacher, counselor, and psychometrist.

Her first books were published by Kensington. She currently has available eight ebooks (six in print) including a book of prose poems and also one short story. She has two books of fiction, a Haiku collection, and two short stories to be released later in 2011.

Linda's latest book is THIS TIME FOREVER from Champagne Books. For more information, she invites you to visit her website at

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight with Celia Yeary

 Hello and welcome back to Wednesday Spotlight. After suffering a major heart attack, slight stroke and long respite, I’m slowly but surely making a comeback. My first guest is multi-published author Celia Yeary. Celia has graciously agreed to chat with me about her latest release

With a cascading waterfall trickling amidst a beautiful garden of pink roses, Sharon sits beneath an umbrella table, waiting for her guest to arrive. Blue birds chirp from lush evergreens, their melodic tweeting creating a summer symphony. A slight breeze blows through the undulating tree branches, stirring the sweet fragrance of roses, pine and earth. From inside, the doorbell rings, its chimes echoing through the garden.

Oliver, dressed in blue jeans, chambray shirt rolled up to the elbows to reveal his bulging biceps, cowboy boots and Stetson, sets the pretty pink roses he’s plucked from his garden on the table in a mint-green vase. Casting Sharon a wicked wink, he struts off to answer the door, humming a verse of George Strait's Baby Blue Eyes.

Seconds later, Oliver escorts Celia into the garden.

Sharon greets her guest with a warm hug while Oliver parades off to see about refreshments..But not before presenting Celia with a single pink rosebud.

For you, my sweet, fresh and lovely, just like you.

Sharon rolls her eyes and clears her throat. Ah, about that wine and appetizer, Oliver.

Oliver blows a kiss to Celia, pumps his biceps and glides through the sliding glass doors.

Sharon: He can’t help himself when he’s in the company of a pretty lady. Knowing your favorite flower is pink roses, he’s been fussing with them all week. Thank you for agreeing to be my first guest. How are you, Celia dear?

Celia: I am fine and dandy, dear heart. This summer heat just warms me up from head to toe, including my heart. Well, and Oliver didn't hurt, either. Everyone just complains and gripes about the heat all day, but me? I don't like to be at all cold, and I don't warm up from winter until mid-June. This is when I'm happiest.

Sharon: Smile. Then, good job we’re outside enjoying this gorgeous day.

Oliver appears, balancing a silver tray above his head. Beaming at Celia, he sets it down. The tantalizing aroma of coconut shrimp grilled to a crisp golden brown wafts through the air. Uncorking the bottle of merlot, Oliver pours a little in a glass for Celia to sample.

Celia: Ohhhh, Oliver! You do know how to make a girl swoon. The wine, Oliver, the wine. It's a perfect merlot, just the right bouquet…what am I saying? I don't know a thing about merlot!

Giddy with delight, Oliver fills Celia’s glass.

Sharon gawks at her empty glass. I wouldn’t mind a little bit of that red wine, Oliver, it’s good for the heart, I hear.

Oliver: What’s that, boss lady?

Scowling at Oliver, Sharon pours her own wine. Never mind, run along. Beams at Celia. So, what better time to have your book released than Independence Day. How very befitting. Tell us about Heart of a Hero.

Celia: I'm just so pleased you asked, sweetheart. This story is about a soldier hero who comes home from the Middle East War to Dallas, wounded and tired, hoping to have some down time to recover. But his fiancé, her mother, and his own mother and father have carefully laid-out plans for his future, and they run over him like an Army tank.

Sharon: Sounds intriguing. What major snags must Matt and Lauren overcome before riding off into the sunset?

Celia: Plenty, let me tell you, girlfriend.  Matt escapes from the trappings in Dallas just as he had to escape the terrorists' imprisonment with his buddies. You know what, Sharon? Matt found it easier to get away from the terrorists than it was to get away from his family. Their demands just about swallow him up. When he meets Lauren in the small Central Texas town of Bonner, he knows he has found true love. He keeps his life's problems from her, but she has secrets of her own, too.

Sharon: Ooo, the plot thickens. Now, your book deals with a hurricane. Have you ever had the misfortune of being caught up in the mayhem of a deadly storm?

Celia: Yes, more than once. I grew up on the High Plains of Texas, tornado alley, and we often had to protect ourselves. But as a young wife and mother, I lived in Houston when Hurricane Carla hit and swooped over the city. We boarded up our windows and road out the storm and the high water in our house. Scary, but you know? Storms sort of excite me, too. I know. It's weird.

Sharon: Shudders. You are a brave woman, Celia! Changing subjects, you’re a seventh generation Texan. I’ve heard the expression many times but am not sure of its meaning. Mind explaining, m’dear?

Celia: I don't mind at all. It means my ancestors go back seven generations in Texas—that's back to 1835 when Texas was a Republic, an independent nation, before statehood and before the Civil War. I suppose it only became important when my sisters and I applied to join the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) and was accepted. To us, it's a big deal. To others, not so much.

Thunderous applause explodes through cyberspace

Sharon: We are all duly impressed, girlfriend. So, tell me, what do you enjoy doing when not writing?

Celia: We travel some, but our heavy traveling years have gone by and we're more content to stay home. I work closely with the women of our church, teach Bible lessons about twice a year, and we have a list of mission-oriented activities we support. Our grandsons are very important, and we visit them twice a year because they live so far away. I volunteer a little in the community, and I meet with my writing group each Tuesday—"We're the Write Girls."

Sharon: Sounds like you do what makes you happy. Sadly, we’re just about out of time. Before you leave, my hobby is collecting legends or superstitions from my guests. Can you share one with me?

Celia: Mmmm, that's a difficult question. I'm not superstitious, so that's out. Legends? There's the story of Indian Emily, a young Apache maiden who is supposed to have saved the West Texas outpost of Fort Davis from a surprise attack when she alerted her lover, a young Army Lieutenant, that the hostiles were coming. I believe the story has been disproved to some extent, except there was a young Apache girl who was connected in some way to the Fort. Who knows? But it makes a good story!

Sharon: Sigh, oh, we of wistful heart. Thank you, I’ll certainly put it in my book of keepsakes.

Oliver materializes with dessert. With a sweeping bow, he presents a sinfully rich chocolate mocha pecan torte. He spoon feeds a bite to Celia before serving with coffee and ice tea. Barely able to stifle himself, he plucks his hot off the press copy of Heart of a Hero from beneath his shirt. He smiles a beguiling smile. If I might be so bold to ask you to autograph this for me, love?

Celia: Call me "love," and serve my favorite chocolate dessert to me, and I'll do anything you ask. Oh? Oh, you only wanted my autograph. Well…certainly.

Sharon: Thank you so much for a delightful visit, Celia. Best of luck with Heart of a Hero. Hope you sell millions.

Celia: Thank YOU, Sharon, for being one of the most gracious hostesses I've ever had. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Sharon: My pleasure, Celia. You’ve been most entertaining.

Celia Yeary is a seventh-generation Texan, and her life revolves around family, friends, and writing. San Marcos has been her home for thirty-five years. She has eight published romance novels, two “coming soon” novels, two anthologies, and published essays with a local magazine. The author is a former science teacher, graduate of Texas Tech University and Texas State University, mother of two, grandmother of three boys, and wife of a wonderful, supportive Texan. Celia and her husband enjoy traveling, and both are involved in their church, the community, and the university.
She meets with The Write Girls on Tuesdays at a local coffee house.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

Matt Carrington escapes a terrorists’ prison while in the Army, but he has difficulty escaping the trappings of a demanding fiancé and his own parents. To get away to think, he meets pretty, girl-next-door Lauren Delaney, the kind of woman he desires. But his fiancé and his parents have other plans, and they determine to have their way—no matter what Matt wants.
Lauren Delaney is an independent young woman who quickly befriends the soldier hero who comes to town. Knowing he has another life in Dallas, she holds a secret, too. But she pretends neither have a problem in order to have the summer with him.
During the long hot months, a hurricane almost destroys the town. Matt and Lauren work with a team to save as many residents as they can, and in the process fall deeply in love. When the danger is past, the two lovers suffer from their own lies and misunderstandings. Can they find peace and happiness without hurting others? 

Note: After a long day of rescuing residents stranded by high water and working in the school gym where the refugees were housed, Lauren invites Matt to spend the night at her house.

Midnight arrived and Lauren was tired. She knew Matt was, too, but the wine and food had made them even more aware of each other. They had stayed at the table too long.
      “Maybe we should get some sleep, Lauren,” Matt said slowly. “Maybe I should go.”
      Lauren clasped her hands in her lap to keep them from shaking. She leaned forward to look straight into his eyes. “Where? Where would you go? You have no place, unless you want to sleep in the gym. Now, think about that carefully, before you become noble and go down there. You may stay here, Matt. I invite you to stay with me.” She waited with her breath caught in her throat.
      “Mmm,” he murmured, as he studied her face by the candlelight. “Where can I sleep?”
      Softly, she said, “I invite you to sleep with me, Matt.” She leaned forward and placed her small hand on his large one. “I want you close to me, all night long.”
      “It’s not right, Lauren,” he told her as he shook his head back and forth very slowly. “I don’t want to hurt you. You know I have to go back.”
      “Did I ask you to stay forever? Did I say ‘don’t hurt me?’ Matt, please, don’t make this a federal case.”
      Matt paused, remaining very still. “I don’t want you to feel guilty.”
      Lauren sat and gazed at him for a few moments and realized she was begging. So, she said nothing more on the topic. Instead, she stood and mumbled that she should blow out the candles on the hearth and mantel before her house burned down.
     As she passed him, he reached out and stopped her by placing his hand on her arm. His other arm came around her waist, and he slowly pulled her down to his lap. One knuckle caressed her cheek, and then his thumb swept over her full bottom lip. He placed his palm over the side of her face and leaned toward her ear to whisper, “Remember, I said at the river I wanted to make love to you, so it was my idea first.”