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, May 27, 2009

Interview with Val Pearson

Today I have a treat. Val Pearson from You Gotta Read Review is my special guest. We all love you and appreciate the extra mile you go for new and established authors. Your bubbly personality shines through in all you do. Let’s hear it for Val Pearson. Welcome Val!

Thanks so much Sharon, it's so exciting to be here with you today. I am a bit nervous so don't mind the sweaty palms!

Aw, just sit back and relax. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Have a cup of coffee and just be yourself. How about we start with a few basic questions about your review sight. It’s really taken off, by the way. So let me just grab my coffee and we’ll get started.

Your blog and review site has really taken off over the past few months. Can you tell readers how this popular review site came to be?

This group started out as a refugee camp for dislocated reviewers from Simply Romance Reviews. The owner of that site became ill and needed to shut down the site. We were all lost, so Stephanie and Tami decided that it was time to get something going. Then it just seemed to be like a snowball rolling downhill from there.

And snowball into something big indeed. And what a novel idea for the name and rating scale. I love it! Was this something that came to you or was it something you gave a lot of thought to?

Stephanie and Tami were brainstorming one night and came up with You Gotta Read for the name of the review site, and thought it would be a novel thing to have the rating system go with it. It took a while to nail down the others, but once they did, it was just perfect for the group!

Talk about a perfect fit. So what made you decide to become a reviewer? And while we’re on the subject, how does one become a reviewer?

I love to read so one day I was looking for an opinion on a book and had read some reviews that were not so kind to the author but when I read the book, I LOVED IT! I thought, "That poor author is sitting there thinking their book stinks when it honestly doesn't." I started contacting authors and telling them what I thought about their book. Then surfing one day, I found Simply Romance Reviews. Julie, the owner, let me join the review team and from there I have been addicted! It is an amazing hobby (more like life, hobby is such a temporary sounding word). Simply Romance Reviews has since shut down but I will always hold it near and dear to my heart.
Actually, right now it is very easy to become a reviewer, so many sites are looking for them. There is no payment other than you get to keep the books you read but to me, it goes a little further than that. I can know that I made a difference to an author. Hopefully for the positive and not the negative. Right now we are looking for reviewers on You Gotta Read and if anyone reading is interested, here is the link. Authors can become reviewers as well so don't think just because you are an author that you can't become a reviewer on our site. In fact we have a few authors on there and when their books hit the net, it's like on of our family members have achieved a milestone.

Thanks for sharing that with us, Val. I’m sure all your information will be beneficial to many readers. And I can’t stress enough how much we authors appreciate your jumping in there for us. It’s so great to have an honest reviewer with a warm heart who truly cares. Now let’s talk about the books you review. Is there a particular genre you prefer reading and reviewing? Or how about a least favorite?

Personally I love suspense, contemporary and I have just found a love for historicals thanks to Linore Rose Burkard. I love anything western and yes, the sappy romances go over well with me. I will review just about anything although I do not like stories with a lot of gore or horror stories. They give me the willies!

I agree. And there’s nothing like a good suspense to lose yourself in, is there? So is it hard for you to post a shall we say less than flattering review for fear of hurting an author’s feelings?

Yes, it is difficult for me to post a less than flattering review but if I do, I try to explain what exactly I don't like about the book. I feel like the author has worked so hard to get their book to publication, the least I can do is be honest with them. I don't want to give a flattering review on a book that does not deserve it and later have a reader think it was awful and not buy from the author ever again. It really is to help the author, not hurt them. I do not, under any circumstances feel that a reviewer should just shred an authors book to pieces. It's not constructive to either party and it serves absolutely no purpose.

Thank you Val! Is it any wonder we love you so much? You’re our hero and more reviewers should follow your strategy. So have you written any books yourself? And if so, what is the genre?

I SO WISH I HAD! No, I am not an author YET. Tami, a close friend of mine, have started the beginning processes of a book and hope to write one together. I know what I like, I have a lot of ideas but have no idea how to get the two to come together.

Oh, we all feel that way. I would love to read a book by you and Tami. Then it would be me cheering you on! Let’s talk a bit about book lengths. Do you prefer reading and reviewing short stories opposed to full length books—or does it all depend on the genre, the author and your schedule?

I really do like both. I like the short stories for when I have limited time and just want to get lost for an hour or two, away from the world. I love the full length books because I have a chance to get to know the characters and their feelings for each other. I don't really depend on the genre or author so much because I have found so many wonderful authors that, had I not just grabbed the book, I would never have found. I've noticed that covers do make a difference to me. The great thing about being a reviewer is that we don't see the covers. I don't have an idea already placed in my head of what the characters should look like or any expectations of the book. My schedule as of late has been crazy but I have gotten a lot of reviews written up this weekend so I don't feel as much pressure right now.

That’s interesting. I had no idea you didn’t see the book covers. See the things I’m learning during this interview! Now let’s talk about Val Pearson. You lived in Africa for a while? I imagine that time in your life left some lasting impressions. Can you share with us some of the highlights? When I think of Africa, I picture rain forests, a safari full of elephants and giraffes, and exotic bird life. Oh, and I have to share with you my fantasy about a visit to Africa. I would love to ride an elephant. Did you ever do this?

I have never ridden an elephant but I did see a monkey and thought it was so cute. My aunt pulled me back from it but the collar of my shirt VERY QUICKLY and proceeded to tell me how dangerous they were. I still remember wondering how such a cute animal could be so dangerous. Where I lived, in Durban, was like the city. Where we lived would be considered the suburbs and I do remember milk being delivered to our door and a man with a cart of vegetables would come down the road and stop at each house where we would buy fresh vegetables. I remember the scenery being so green and beautiful. I was eight when I left so my memories are mostly of where I lived. One funny story that I would like to share is that the South African versions of things is very different than here. For example a robot over there is a stoplight over here. Well, when we came to America, my brother was five and I was eight. My brother had to use the bathroom so very very bad so my mother came over to him and told him to go in that room and use the toilet. So he went in and came back out soaking wet. He had peed himself and my mother couldn't understand why. He was crying and said "I wanted to use the toilet and all they had was a bathroom. I didn't want to take a bath." I know, collective Awwwww's right about here.

Too funny! And I agree about the monkeys. They look so cute and seem so human like, it’s hard to imagine them being vicious. Well you know me and my love of legends. Speaking of the elephant, there is a legend about receiving an elephant for a gift. Oh, not a real one. LOL I’m talking about a decorative accessory for a curio or end table. According to legend, if the tusks of the elephant are rooted upward, this will bring the owner of the house good luck. Have you heard this one? Speaking of myths, do you have a legend or superstition you’d like to share?

I really don't have superstitions but I do know the one about the elephant. My aunt used to collect them and only when the tusks were up. There has been jewelry that has been handed down through the generations and a small elephant tusk is one of them

What does Val Pearson do in her spare time? Inquiry minds want to know! Do you have any hobbies or favorite television shows? Preference in music?

Right now, life has been a bit crazy. I have been busy taking care of family members. We have had a total of 5 family members in the hospital in the last month. When life isn't getting crazy on me, I am so into Nascar it's not even funny. I am an Earnhardt fan all the way. This is where the die hard Nascar fans might stop reading this interview! lol Hmmm, television shows, let's see, One Tree Hill is my #1 favorite. I love Friday Night Lights and this season American Idol and Celebrity Apprentice have been shows I cannot miss. I can't believe I have put Criminal Minds on the back burner, I never thought that would happen. I used to love watching Touched by an Angel and hated that they took it off the air. My music preferences are all over the place. I listen to Alternative, Country, Rap, Pop, Christian anything. If it has a great tune and an even greater message, I'm there!

Well I certainly wish your family members a speedy recovery. They are fortunate to have you. And I love the Nascar fan in you! You know Chicken Soup for the Soul has a shout out now for stories about just that. You might consider checking it out. Now before you go, I have three trivia questions. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? Tell us something about you that might surprise us. If you could play the leading lady in any literary fiction or box office movie, who would it be and who would you want playing your leading man?

If I could live anywhere in the world I would have to say Ibiza, Spain. I read a book, Mucho Caliente by Francesca Prescott and I loved it. It sounded so amazing. Then I went to her website and the pictures were so amazing, serene and I felt so drawn for it. It is my goal one day to visit.
One thing that may surprise people ... hmmmm, I'm not the type of person who usually keeps things hidden. I would say the one thing in my life that surprised me the most was my relationship with my husband. We married when I had just turned 19 at 24 we were divorced. After our divorce, he was saved and got himself into church so when we got back together he was a totally different man. Ten years went by and a couple of relationships later, I came down to South Carolina to tell him just exactly how I felt about him and when it was over, we were remarried! I still don't know how all of that happened, only that God was in it.
If I could play a leading lady in a book, hmmmmm, I would probably say I would want to be Sherri from the book Combustion by Rebecca Savage and my leading man is a no brainer, Channing Tatum. I love that man and his acting abilities. I wonder if I would get the part if I just sat there staring at him, drooling the whole time! lol

Well those are some interesting answers. I’m so glad things worked out with your husband through faith. I’m afraid our time is just about up. Time flies when you’re having fun. Thanks so much Val! It’s been a pleasure and I hope you’ll come back again!

Sharon you know I love your site, your books and everything about you. I would be back again in a heartbeat. If you ever need me for anything, you know where I am!

Thanks so much, Val! And that goes right back at you!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Interview with Jennette Green


Writing has always been a passion of mine. I wrote my first story over thirty years ago. Since then, I’ve written numerous stories and have had several articles published. My first love, however, is writing romance novels. I've written seven. I'm blessed with a wonderful, supportive husband, and three terrific children who put up with my crazy writing hours. When I'm not writing, I love reading, photography, making videos, and creating and managing my websites.


Travel on a journey of romance into medieval Scotland...

Princess Elwytha wants revenge on the monster who murdered her brother. In a false exchange for peace, she offers herself in marriage to the enemy Prince. The plan? Kill the Prince’s battle-scarred Commander—the man who ended King Thor’s life with one filthy sword thrust through the back. To her horror, the Commander agrees to take Elwytha as his bride. Worse, the wedding date will be sooner than expected. Not all is lost, however. Now she has more opportunity to be alone with him--and exact justice.

But the deed is not so easy now. Fighting her innate sense of honor, she begins to see the ironclad integrity of the man behind the scars. And with this knowledge comes doubt. Did he slay her brother? What exactly is the new king's plan? Whom can she trust? Elwytha must decide well, for more than her life is at stake. Soon she must betray either allegiance to her kingdom--or the man who is quickly claiming her heart.

Book Excerpt:

“Give me your blades,” The Commander growled down at her.

Fear pounded in Elwytha's chest, and she licked her dry lips. “You found no blades when you pawed through my clothes. The maid found none on my person. Perhaps that is because I have none.”

“I don’t trust you.”

She smiled. As well you shouldn’t. However, she said, “How can we have a marriage with no trust?”

“Come with me.” He forced her toward the door. “You will not return to this room.”

“But my clothes!”

“You will have new clothes. Clothes with no holes for pockets. Clothes that provide no access to the blade at your thigh.”

“Nonsense.” Unthinking, she struggled and then, to her consternation, he picked her up and tossed her over his shoulder. She cried out in fear and horrified humiliation.

“Put me down!” She pounded on his broad back. “Put me down, you monstrous serf!” He strode, silent, through the halls. She squeezed her eyes shut, unwilling to see the others witnessing her humiliation. “Put me down. Put me down at once!” she gasped.

She bit her lip, trying to stop the weak tears of a woman, not a warrior. She sniffed and finally stopped struggling, and hung down his back. His belt about his jerkin was within reach. If only she could loose it, she could cinch it around his massive neck!

“Where are you taking me?” she demanded, voice muffled. Perhaps if she pretended submission he would return her to her feet. And if she found a dagger, she’d gladly plunge it through his heart.

“To my chambers.”

“Nay!” she gasped out, and struggled in earnest then. “I have decided you are unacceptable to me. You have none of the finer qualities I require in a husband!”

Here are links to Jennette's three websites:

Today I am interviewing fellow Wild Rose author and friend Jennette Green.

Welcome, Jennette, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. First I’d like to congratulate you on all your rave reviews for THE COMMANDER’S DESIRE. You chose medieval Scotland as the setting for this book. Is there a reason? Have you ever gone to Scotland? How did you find all your research for this intriguing novel?

Thank you, Sharon, for having me at your blog! I feel so honored to be here. To be honest, I chose Scotland for two reasons. I knew I wanted the book to take place in the early medieval ages, plus I wanted to set it in an area where there were actual kings reigning during that time period. The book takes place in Galwyddel (modern Galloway in southern Scotland). Although it was ruled by the giant power of Northumbria, to the east, a number of “petty” kings continued to rule their own lands in Galwyddel—however, they paid tribute to Northumbria. I wanted kings, princes and princesses to be a part of my story, because I hoped it would add a bit of a “fairy tale” feel to it. I wanted to weave that element into the nitty gritty fabric of wars, lies and intrigue that snarl through the book.

You mention in your bio that you have a strong passion for writing romance. Are you a hopeless romantic at heart? Let’s turn the tables. Women are often asked what the most romantic thing a man has ever done. What is the most romantic thing you have ever done for a man?

It’s funny. At heart, I’m a hopeless romantic, but in “real” life I’ve come to realize no one can be that perfect person for someone else. This is because we’re all basically flawed human beings! However, we can try to grow and be the best person we can be, which will only improve the quality of our relationships. Now…what is the most romantic thing I’ve ever done for a man? Hmm. That is hard!!! I guess it would have to be when I got take-out from our favorite restaurant, then put the kids to bed so when my husband got home I had low lighting, candles on the table, and a scrumptious meal to eat! He really liked that. :)

I couldn’t help but be drawn to the name Thor. It stood out to me because I love anything pertaining to myths and legends. Thor is sometimes referred to as the god of thunder. Did this have any bearing on choosing Thor for the name of your king?

Yes. I wanted Elwytha’s favorite brother to have a powerful name, because it denoted what a strong man he was. He was her childhood hero, and she basically hero-worshiped him. The Commander has the same wonderful character qualities her brother had, plus still more.

I have always been drawn to swordsmanship and the hand/eye coordination it takes to be a master. A lot of writers take workshops designed to give hands-on experience with the weapons in their novels. Have you ever held or used a sword or taken martial arts classes? Would this be something you might like to try your hand at?

I have never held a sword, although I would love to! I’ve read that some swords were very heavy, especially the claymores. I learned those were about 5.5 pounds. Imagine wielding them for hours at a time!

You’ve led an interesting life. You grew up in Alaska. What can you tell us about growing up in a state where such raw beauty exists? Some of the things that come to mind when I think of Alaska are the frozen tundra, glaciers and wildlife? Are there a lot of moose and caribou? Bald headed eagles? Six months without a glimpse of the sun?

I grew up in a tiny town called North Pole, Alaska, and later, moved to Moose Creek. LOL Both are near Fairbanks. It was an experience, growing up in Alaska. We’d play outside at recess until it was -20ยบ. It was COLD, but we bundled up to go out (it took about five minutes to get the parka, boots, etc. on and off), so it didn’t seem too bad. I still remember those bright blue skies and the sun glittering off the white snow. It was so bright, it hurt my eyes. Alaska is a wild, beautiful state. I have so many stories. We’d go to school in the dark, and it would get light during the middle of the day. The sun would start to go down when we’d go home in the afternoon. In the summertime, my parents could read the newspaper outside at midnight! One time, in Moose Creek, my mother had to shoo off a moose with a broom so my sister and I could get on the bus to go to school. My parents used to be teachers, so we spent most of our summers camping all over the state. It’s so beautiful. I’d like to go back someday—but in the summer!

Let’s talk a bit about your hobbies. You love to read and write, design websites and blogs and dabble in photography. Where do you find time to do all these things? With your creative nature, have you ever tried your hand at book trailers?

Where do I find the time? LOL I don’t have enough time to do everything I’d like to do. I want to make a trailer for my book, but haven’t had the time to do it! I’ve got three kids and a husband, and I’ve been a Bible study table leader for our women’s group at church for the last three years. Sometimes I feel very overwhelmed! But I’m glad to be able to write, because that is what I love to do best.

Speaking of book trailers, the latest rage, do you think they have any affect on sales of a book?

I’m sure trailers help book sales. I’ve posted fan videos on YouTube, and thousands of people have watched at them. I’ve noticed authors often get lots of views for their book trailers, too. If you can put together a selling presentation, it can only help book sales, in my opinion.

One final question. Where can readers get in touch with you and buy your book
The Commander’s Desire?

Print versions of my book can be found at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble online. It can also be ordered from “bricks and mortar” stores. Ebooks can be found at I’d love for readers to stop by my website,, or become friends with me on MySpace: I always love to make new friends!

Thank you so much for having me here today, Sharon! I’ve enjoyed chatting with you, and thank you for the thought provoking questions! God bless, Jennette

Thank you for the great interview, Jennette.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spider Bites

“WAG #11: Scaredy-Cat”
Another people-watching exercise! Choose a stranger and observe him/her for a little
while. Now give them a phobia. A full-on, jump on the chair, scream like a little
fear. (Or however you imagine them to respond.) Try to choose something that fits
the person you’re watching, and let us know what it is about them that clued you
in to their secret fear. The object is not just to describe the fear, but to make
us understand why it fits with this particular person.
Special thanks to
Christine Kirchoff
for this week’s topic idea! Email NixyValentine AT gmail DOT com to contribute topic
ideas. It’s very helpful!
Post the results on your blog, and
read this post about the group for information on how to notify me
so your post will be properly included in next week’s list. (Note, please include
WAG #11
in the subject heading and tell me how you want your name to appear! If you do not,
I will use the name as it appears on your email.) Deadline: next Tuesday, May 12th.
Tweet This

So I’m at a party over the weekend. We were all gathered in the kitchen around the food and drinks. The windows were open, stirring the tangy smell of spicy ribs through the house. The bluesy sound of sax warbled over the desultory buzz of idle chit chat. Just as I was elbowing my way to the living room to find a seat, a nerdy looking guy in a pair of thick horn rims stopped me, striking up a conversation. It turned out he was an exterminator.
“Yeah,” he went on in his nasally voice. “Gotta catch ‘em buggers before they get out of hand. Spiders and cock roaches breed like rabbits. Gotta zap ‘em dead.”
“Uh-huh,” I said, the food on my plate suddenly far less appealing than it had been seconds before. “I’ll just be on my way.”
SWAT! He slapped his arm. Then he jabbed his forefinger into his horn rims, catching them as they slid down the bridge of his long, straight nose. “Even after three showers, still feel like those spiders and bugs are crawling in my skin and hair.”
“I’ll just be on my way,” I said, feeling a bit itchy my own self.
SWAT! The force of his elbow had me jumping. If I do say so, I did a mighty fine job of balancing my food.
“Like I said,” he gave himself another good hard swat for good measure. “Feel like ‘em buggers are still on my skin.”
“Yeah,” I said, finally breaking free of the nerd. “Good luck with that.”
I dumped my food in the nearest waste can, my stomach queasy. I left the party, still stuck on the bugs. I couldn’t shake them loose from my brain.
As I crawled between the sheets that night, I visualized spiders and roaches in my hair, on my skin, nesting and breeding like rabbits. A little shudder went through me. I swore I felt the beginnings of hives breaking out on my arms and legs. My eye began to twitch. Just the thought of such a thing had niggles of fear skittering down my spine. Then I laughed out loud. Somehow the nerd in the horn rims had managed to pass his bug phobia onto me. If that didn’t beat all. I drifted off, realizing that phobias were all in the mind. But still, I thought, ideas stirring. It would make for a good fantasy thriller—or a writing assignment. The possibilities were endless.

Want to join Nixy’s WAG Writers Adventure Group? Here’s how:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Can you put a price tag on your writing?

I don’t usually get on my soap box—but I cannot hold my tongue. Or in this case, cannot keep my fingers from skating across the keyboard. I am going to address one of my pet peeves--those who do not appreciate the gift of writing. I have three short stories published by The Wild Rose Press which is now White Rose Publishing. After taking countless classes in creative writing, both at local colleges and online, attending workshops and conferences and putting in far longer than the average eight hour day, I fancied myself the next Nora Roberts. I sent out query letters and partial manuscripts to literary agents all over the state of New York, certain they’d be ringing my phone off the hook. No such luck. Those phone calls never came, but one rejection letter after the next filled my mailbox to the hilt. Devastated, my heart wept. Totally disillusioned, I was ready to throw my dream of writing out the window. But then I wised up and realized the only way to get what I wanted was to fight for it with all I was made of. And that’s when things changed.

When I want something, I develop a competitive edge. And perhaps that’s what it took to push me so hard. After pulling my head out of the clouds, I developed a stiff upper lip and some mighty tough skin. And you know what they say…when the going gets tough…the tough get going. So I buckled down and enrolled in as many writing classes as I could find, polishing my manuscript to the best of my ability. And after getting feedback on it from my critique group, I felt ready to pitch it to a New York agent at a writers conference.

Nervous but confident, I presented my ten minute pitch, feeling certain I’d be asked to submit the entire manuscript. Once more, my dreams were shattered. The agent handed me back my business card…and I sure didn’t need him to show me the door.

Feeling sorry for myself, I was once again thinking perhaps writing just wasn’t meant to be. But then someone sat beside me at Starbucks while I was drinking a cup of coffee. I was so upset I wound up pouring my heart out to this woman who I had never met before. She handed me her business card and told me to submit my manuscript to The Wild Rose Press. That woman was Liana Laverentz. And that’s how I got my foot in the door with The Wild Rose Press. Through God’s intercession, when one door closed…another door opened.

The editors are wonderful to work with and the authors are willing to go the extra mile to lend a helping hand. Lori Graham is my editor and the feedback she gives me makes my writing shine. And when I got my first contract one year ago, it was like hitting the lottery for a million bucks. It had nothing to do with money. It was the feeling of accomplishment after striving for it for so long. No one understands a writer like another writer. There is no comparison to those words, “I’d like to offer you a contract.”

So you might be asking yourself where this is going. After my first contract, Lori offered me two more contracts shortly thereafter. Nicola designed my beautiful book covers and Rae Monet designed a killer website for me. I have had three releases this year along with a free read, all in the White Rose line. And my heart swelled with pride. So when someone made the derogatory comment, “I’m sorry you didn’t get a good price for your books,” my heart dropped.

Certainly we don’t get the money the big publishing houses pay, but what we do get is a whole lot more. We have editors who give us the chance to resubmit our work by giving very beneficial feedback, a caring staff, some of the best artists and awesome authors. And we all connect to support, promote, and be there for one another through thick and thin. The bigger publishing houses more than likely wouldn’t have such a rapport. I am proud to be a member of the garden and very proud to write for White Rose Publishing.

writing is a gift, a God-given talent meant to be shared. And I’m proud of my talent and hope to leave my footprint on the world when I’m gone. The emotional rewards far outweigh the monetary. And I know I speak for all writers. Writing is in my blood. If I didn’t get paid a penny, I’d still write in my journal or my blog. I write for emotional healing and to help make this world a better place.

As you know, before the loss of my vision, my passion was painting. Blending colors into a rich palette of crimson, peach and indigo into a desert sunset filled me with peace and tranquility. When I lost my sight, I was devastated for the obvious reasons, but mostly, because I could no longer paint. But after a long and winding road, a new dream resurrected when I discovered I could paint just as vividly with words. I never want to forget the simple beauty of a rose or the exotic beauty of a wildflower. And describing what I used to see and paint in such vivid detail is my way of remembering. Can you put a price tag on that?