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A visit with YA author Christine Grabowski

Today I’m so pleased to welcome debut YA author and Wild Rose Press sistah, Christine Grabowski.

Christine’s debut YA Novel, Dickensen Academy, is out and doing fabulously with readers and reviewers alike.

 

Today, she’s brought along two of her characters from the book, Autumn and Ben,  for a sit-down to get to know them – and the book – better.  Let’s eavesdrop on their interviews for some insight into these two and the mysterious Dickenson Academy…

Tell us a bit about yourself, Autumn.

My name is Autumn Mattison. I’m from Seattle, and I just started my freshman year of high school at Dickensen Academy.

Why did you choose to attend Dickensen Academy?

Who wouldn’t? Almost no one gets in the place. So when I got in, it shocked us all. And it made my dad so proud. It’s got this great writing program, which I’m really excited about. And the art classes sound fun too. And I’ve got it admit, it was great to move out of the house. My dad is a control freak and sometimes I feel like I can barely breath around him.

What do you like about boarding school so far?

It’s so amazing to be off on my own. I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, and I’ve already made four really good friends. My roommate, Aditi, is so sweet. And then there’s Hannah, this girl I run cross country with. Ben and Ryan usually hang out with us too.

What about the classes?

I’m really liking school so far. The classes are small, and the teachers are super-passionate. Especially Mr. Robbins. He teaches Creative Core which is this art class that is supposed to be the backbone of the fine arts program. To me, it just seems like drawing and art. But the faculty says it’s much more than that.

Anything you don’t like?

Well…there’s something weird about this place that sometimes gives me the creeps. It’s almost like I’ve been here before. I keep having these déjà vu moments. But it’s probably all my imagination. My dad would say I have too much of that. But there are also all these rules. Like freshmen can’t leave campus until Thanksgiving, and we can’t hang out with the upperclassmen. There’s even this huge fence hidden in the woods. It feels like we’re locked in. But the teachers say it’s because up here in the mountains there are lots of wild animals. But it seems a bit overkill to me.

Do you have any goals for the year?

I’m hoping to get good grades. I don’t think my dad believes I can hack it on my own. But I want to prove him wrong. No way will I ever do as well as my brother, Josh. But hopefully I can do well enough to get my dad off my back.

Anything you’d like to add?

Well, there’s this guy, Ben. He’s really cute. We hang out a lot, but usually in a group. Aditi thinks he likes me. He even dreamed about me before we got in. Weird, right? But I doubt he’s interested in me. I’m sure he’ll end up with someone more like Hannah, who is model gorgeous.

(Peggy here: Mmmm… something a little creepy, eh? Sounds intriguing!) Christine sent along a picture of Dickenson Academy to share. 

All those tall trees surrounding it and the way the mist eerily is winding around them and the buildings…..wow!

And now, let’s listen in on the other student Christine has brought along with her…

Tell us a bit about yourself, Ben

My name is Ben Coleman. I’m a freshmen here at Dickensen and turn fifteen next month. My family lives in Seattle.

Why did you choose to attend Dickensen Academy?

This place has a great reputation for academics and fine arts. I’m a focused student and like the challenge. But I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to leave home. I’m really tight with my family, especially my mom. It was just the two of us for years until Jim came along. And then there’s my brother, Calvin. He’d just five. The kid looks up to me like crazy, and I do a lot with him, so my mom can get stuff done. I was worried about leaving them alone, especially because my brother has some medical issues. But then I had this vivid dream where my family was at Dickensen Academy, and I woke up feeling I needed to accept and that everything would work out.

What do you like about boarding school so far?

It’s great. I’ve got an awesome roommate named Ryan. He’s a bit of a goofball. But he gets me to let loose—something I couldn’t do much of at home when I always had to be responsible. Then there’s this girl, Autumn. We have the deepest conversations. But as I’ve gotten to know her, I realize she is beautiful in this I-don’t-even-try sort of way, always wearing jeans and hoodies. But I’m sure she sees me as just a friend, and I’m not really looking for a girlfriend right now.

What about your classes?

Love them. The teachers are fantastic. Most are really strict which I actually like. I’m here to learn. But then there’s Robbins. He teaches Creative Core which is this art class that is highly praised. He’s super laid back, so we get to chat with our friends while we work. It’s a nice break from the academics.

Anything you don’t like?

The rules. I’ve made some friends with some of the older guys playing sports after school. I’d like to hang out with them after practice, but supposedly we’re not allowed to “fraternize” with the upperclassman. What kind of a dumb rule is that? I’ve talked to this sophomore, Gabe. He basically said we could be friends later in the year, but not now. I feel like there’s something big they are hiding from us freshmen. Autumn gets the same vibe as me. She suggested it might be some form of hazing. But I don’t know. It feels bigger than that. Ryan tells me I’m paranoid, so I’m trying to let it go. But sometimes I really wonder if this school is more than it seems.

Do you have any goals for the year?

Good grades. Make friends. Just the normal stuff.

Anything you’d like to add?

Can’t think of anything.

(Peggy here- I can relate, Ben. I hate rules, too!)

 

Dickenson Academy by Christine Grabowski

This secluded high school may be her dream come true…or her worst nightmare.

Blurb

Dickensen Academy isn’t a typical boarding school. The faculty is hiding an unbelievable secret within their fine arts program. When Autumn Mattison receives an invitation to attend the high school, she yearns to escape her overbearing father yet remains reluctant to leave her mother and brother. Her doubts fade away when a vivid dream convinces her she belongs there.

Away from home, Autumn discovers a unique school environment that awakens her creative potential, and her new friends become like a second family. However, as she uncovers more about the dark side of the school and struggles with its curriculum, she questions whether Dickensen Academy is truly where she belongs.

When tragedy strikes, Autumn must learn to believe in her own power and stand up to her greatest fear or risk having her memories destroyed to protect the school’s secrets. Caught between secrets and dreams, can she find her true self?

Excerpt 

“I feel like there’s something big we don’t know about. Something those students were protecting. I mean, really, why are we here?”

I thought it was just me who was confused. “Well…the recruiters said we’re creative and focused.”

“Yeah, that’s what Principal Locke said too.”

“And we have the right personality.”

Ben looked up at the sky, sighed then turned toward the forest. “What did he say…something about how it will soon become clear why we’re here, and there’s some ultimate purpose for our creativity?”

“I know. That whole creativity part was a bit bizarre.”

He shrugged. “It seems everyone is going with the flow. But I have so many questions.” Then he touched my arm to stop me, so I turned toward him. “I’m thinking they’re isolating us for some special reason,” he admitted in an embarrassed tone.

I tried not to laugh—he was acting paranoid. But I didn’t know Ben well. Maybe he was joking, trying to freak me out. Or was he hitting on me? The flutter in my chest moved to my stomach. I was already anxious about being away from home and whether or not I could hack the academics. I didn’t need to obsess about anything else. But I still had to know about Ben’s dream.

“So…I also had a dream about Dickensen before I accepted the offer.”

Ben’s head snapped toward me. “You did?”

Buy/Book Links:

Amazon // B&N // Apple // The Wild Rose Press  // GooglePlay // Kobo

A little about Christine Grabowsk

Dickensen Academy is Christine’s debut YA novel. After graduating from the University of Washington, she earned her MBA at the University at Albany. She honed her technical writing skills in marketing and consulting but attributes the creative part of the process to her passion for reading.

When she isn’t reading or writing, Christine can often be found running, skiing, or hiking. She lives in Newcastle, Washington, with her supportive husband, two avid teen readers, and their energetic wheaten terriers.

You can visit Christine here:

website // goodreads // BookBub // FaceBook //Instagram // Twitter // Amazon //

 

* Book Trailer:

(Peggy here – Christine, thanks so much for dropping by today and bringing Autumn and Ben with you. I have to say, Dickenson Academy sounds like the kind of place I’d definitely want to visit.)

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A sit-down interview with author Mary Morgan and Rory MacGregor

You all know by now that I lovelovelove when one of my Wild Rose Press sistahs comes for a visit. Today I have award winning author MARY MORGAN visiting and she’s brought along her hero in her newest book OATH OF A WARRIOR, Rory MacGregor with her for a little sit down tete-a-tete.

Let’s get right to it!

“Morning, Mary. ‘Morning, Rory.

Hello Peggy! Thanks for allowing us to visit your lovely blog. Rory MacGregor has graciously agreed to be here today. Though he can’t stay long (terms set forth from the Fae realm), I am confident he can share some insight into his story and the Fae realm.

Peggy: Since you’ve been on our earth for thousands of years, can you share with us how old you are?

Rory: (He arches an eyebrow in amusement) Old is a term for the weathered foliage in our kingdom. I am considered ancient by your standard of years.

Peggy: When Prince Conn sent you back in time to heal your wounds, were you prepared to do so, or did you have an alternate plan?

Rory: At the time, I was standing on the abyss of darkness. My soul was entering what we call the Realm of Shadows. It is a desolate, bleak, and tortured existence with no hope of returning. The prince was unwise in sending me back in time in my condition. Regardless, I am fortunate that the circumstances proved to be in our favor—mine and Erina’s. I will be forever grateful that the Fates granted us this second chance.

Peggy: Can you share what drew you to Erina?

Rory: (Leaning back, he smiles) Her soul called out to mine, and I accepted. Furthermore, it was her great love of the land and animals. Endearing qualities, I admire.

Peggy: What is one word that best describes you?

Rory: It would depend on whom ye asked. Since my brother, Liam, is not here to offer a protest, I would say honorable.

Peggy: Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Rory: Aye, she kens me well, and I am sorry for causing her so much angst in writing this tale.

Peggy: What is your greatest fear?

Rory: To speak a fear out loud is to encourage its existence. I’d rather not bring misfortune to our life.

Peggy: What is the perfect romantic date in the Fae realm?

Rory: Holding Erina in my arms spread out among the heather and foxglove on a warm summer night as we watch the stars near the Waterfall of Life.

Peggy: What is your favorite color?

Rory: The rose blush that begins on my lovely wife’s face, and then continues to deepen the more I trail kisses over her skin.

Peggy: What is your favorite drink?

Rory: Honeyed ambrosia, especially procured from the Fae Pleasure Gardens.

Peggy: What is your favorite dessert?

Rory: (A slow sensuous smile appears) My wife, Erina.

Peggy: Is your book part of a series? What does the future hold for the readers of the series?

Rory: Aye, ’tis a series. My brother, Liam’s story is next. ’Tis called, Trial of a Warrior. In addition, I believe the author is planning a fourth book on our mentor and one of the greatest Fenian Warriors in the Fae realm, Aidan Kerrigan. His story is called, Destiny of a Warrior.

Peggy: I’m in serious love right now, folks!!! Le Swoon!!!!!!! Thanks, Mary, for bringing the delicious Rory for a visit today!

 Can a timeline be rewritten for love?

Blurb:

“You met them in the Order of the Dragon Knights. Now, journey to the realm of the Fae and witness their legends!”

Fenian Warrior, Rory MacGregor’s love conquests are legendary, but he has never spoken of the one mortal female who captured his heart. After his dark secret is finally revealed, he is ordered to return and seal the wounds left open by her death. Yet, he finds the timeline altered and swears an oath to rewrite fate, even if it brings about his own death.

Erina MacIntyre is known for her healing herbs and love charms. Determined to aid others, she refuses to listen to the whispers that call her a witch. When a Highlander steps forth into her path, he ignites a thread of strange familiarity and sparks a flame of desire she is unable to control.

Can the destiny of two lovers find love once more among the ashes of death and betrayal? Or will history repeat itself, leaving a scorching path of destruction for both mortals and Fae alike?

Excerpt:

“Erina, mo ghrá,” he groaned, taking her mouth with savage intensity. She tasted of honey and spices, filling him completely and easing the torment that continually plagued him.

Breaking free, he placed his hands on either side of the door. Giving her all of him required something more from Erina. Without the assurance of accepting him for what he was, Rory would be a lost man.

“Are ye certain ye want to ken all of me? I want ye as sure as the sun rises and sets over the land each day, but ken this, Erina—there is more to me than a simple bedding. There are things about me that might frighten ye. What I’m about to share with ye may cause ye to question my existence, or worse, my sanity.”

Her laugh was seductive and soothing as she wrapped her arms around his neck. “From the moment ye stepped through those trees that first day, I realized ye were not like any man I had encountered. It was as if the trees parted and ye came forth from inside them.” She brushed her fingers along his brow. “For one, ye have the most mesmerizing eyes and they shift colors.”

“And the second?”

Her face turned a rosy glow, yet, she held his gaze. “I thought your body chiseled from the old Gods, especially with all the markings on your back and arms.”

His gaze swept over hers. “I am nae God, Erina, though some would call me a demon.”

She traced a finger down along his arm and shook her head. “Ye are not a monster, but I am nae fool. Ye are not like other men, Rory. I have seen the markings on your body elsewhere.” Her finger curved around his shoulder and he trembled. “They are similar to the ones on the standing stones carved by the ancients.”

Rory fought the tide of emotions sweeping through him. She had come to the conclusion all on her own. “And ye would not flee if I told ye I was one of those ancients? One where the bards wove tales of giants who lived thousands of years ago among your own people? Others would call the story incredulous and filled with heathen words.” He held his breath, fearing her reply.

The smile she gave him speared straight to his soul. “Nae. I would not flee.”

Buy Links: Amazon // Nook // iBooks // The Wild Rose Press //

A wee bit about Mary Morgan:

Award-winning Celtic paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan, resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to retur

Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling–writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stori

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.

You can connect with Mary here:

Website //Blog // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Amazon // Pinterest // Instagram // BookBub

 

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A great #Booksale from one of my Favorite #Authors

Wild Rose Press sistah and fab author Donna Simonetta, is having a book sale. From now until June 8, A SWEETER SPOT will be on sale at the following Venues. If you’re looking for a great read to start your summer, this is a book for you!

Blurb:

Magda knows a 28-year-old shouldn’t run away from home, but Rivers Bend is the ideal escape. Helping out her best friend will get her away from her uber-wealthy, controlling grandmother and duplicitous ex. She doesn’t expect the quirky little town to feel so much like home. Add in hotter-than-the-sun Jeff and his daughter, and leaving seems as unthinkable as it is inevitable.

Raising Sam alone, Jeff knew he wanted her to grow up in his supportive hometown. The arrival of a feisty new tenant sends Jeff’s world spinning. Magda fills a void in his life that he’d like to make permanent.

Will love triumph over the most powerful woman in the country, and can they figure out how to make this happy-for-now in Rivers Bend into their happy-ever-after?

Excerpt:

“Being cheated on is no fun. It happened to me once. Up here,” he tapped his forehead. “You know it’s not your fault. But here,” he tapped his chest over his heart. “You feel like it has to be your fault – like you could’ve done something to prevent it. But you couldn’t have. It’s all on him, Maggie. Not you.”

She picked a dandelion, whose flower had turned into a puffball, and blew on it, scattering the fluff to the wind. “Maybe. Maybe not. But thanks for the support.”

She pushed to her feet and took a couple of steps toward the river. Jeff rose and followed.

How could he be so angry at a man he didn’t even know? How could this Pierce jerk have slept around on a woman like Maggie? And the prick had even made her doubt herself in the process. It was written all over her anguished face.

He stood behind her and gently kneaded her shoulders. He turned her to face him and cupped her face in his big hands.

“This Pierce guy is the biggest fool on earth to go to someone else when he had you at home, Maggie.”

She blinked away tears, and he felt his heart constrict. Before he could think it through and decide it was a really bad idea, Jeff dipped his head and captured Magda’s lips in a gentle kiss.

Buy Links:

Amazon:  // The Wild Rose Press  //B&N //  Amazon UK // Kobo

About Donna:

My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

Find Donna Here:

Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Amazon // BookBub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#NewBookRelease from a WIldRosePress sistah!

I’ve got the privilege today of announcing one of my Wild Rose Press and NHRWA sistah’s newest book release! My friend, uber-talented writer, and all around fabulous gal Kathryn Hills has a brand new book instores today, titled Hellfire and Handbaskets ( great title, isn’t it??!!) She dropped by recently to talk about the book and give us a little snippet of what the story’s about, so sit back and relax.

Kathy, what drew you to this genre?

It was a dark and stormy night. Funny, I know. And oh so cliché, but for me those words always spark interest. A heroine (hero, or both), alone in a haunted mansion or scary castle. Unknown dangers. The weird, mysterious, and frightening. Strange things, lurking around dark corners. Shivers, and goosebumps, and I love it!

My affair with gothic romance started early. While others in elementary school were reading babysitting adventures, tales about animals, and biographies of famous people, my favorite books were spooky. Kids versions of Dracula and Frankenstein. My poor mother. Makes me wonder if she had to sit through teacher conferences, hearing about my odd taste in reading material. Although, she never said. Probably because she loved a good story as much as me.

In my teen years, I discovered mainstream romance. I became a big fan of the romance genre overall. Historicals, contemporaries, mysteries, and later paranormals as they grew in popularity. Far-off lands, grandiose adventures. Plus, the guarantee of a happily-ever-after made romances my go-to reads throughout college, and still to this day. Yet I’ve never forgotten my roots as a gothic reader.

 Are you going to keep writing in this genre?

Absolutely! These types of stories, inspired by paranormal investigations and haunted history, are a huge part of what I’ve got coming up. Book 2 in my Time Traveler’s Journey series (Hellfire and Handbaskets) lures readers deeper into the frightening world of time-travel and the dark magic that created it. The setting is the city of Boston, a modern-day hospital, and a medical school in 1895. And, the “Lair of Lucifer” a.k.a. America’s first subway system. An ominous place, under construction beneath the teeming city streets.

These books also explore woman’s issues—aspirations, sexuality, and their inevitable clashes with the values of society. Central themes of Gothic romance, going back to stories like Dracula. I challenge the notion of a “woman’s place,” both in turbulent Victorian America and today. Whether she’s a modern woman traveling back in time, or a lady from the 1800’s stuck in our present day, it’s tough for my heroines. But their heroes get dragged along for the ride, so it’s all good. 😊

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Write what you love. And if possible, experience first-hand what you’re writing about. A wise man—renowned paranormal investigator John E.L. Tenney—told me something inspiring. Paraphrasing here, he said… “If you can visit a haunted house, explore the mysteries of the universe, experience the paranormal safely, then do it. Your life will be richer for it.” Obviously, don’t put yourself in harm’s way or break any laws, but get out there. Visit a place, hear the sounds, smell the air. Feel it.

I hope my writing is enriched by my personal experiences. I know my imagination skyrockets when I hunt ghosts or stumble through history’s mysteries. I also hope I’ve inspired you (the reader and/or writer) to explore that “dark and stormy night.” You never know what you’ll discover. Maybe the best, new story. One I’ll put on my “favorites list.”

Peggy here: great advice!!! And now: here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin about Kathy’s newest release.

Hellfire and Handbaskets – A Time Traveler’s Journey, Book 2


 

It’s hell in the ER, but Army veteran Dr. Rick Hauser wouldn’t work anywhere else. The hardened combat medic thinks he’s seen it all.  Until she storms into his life.

Amelia Pennington is not just a pretty face. She’s a time-traveler. A medical student from 1895, forced to flee a madman. She’s been in trouble before, but this time everything she loves is at risk. Can a reluctant hero be the key she’s searching for?

What’s left of Hauser’s heart is still on the battlefield. Last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a mystery woman. But when he finds Amelia on the streets, he ignores the warning shots firing off in his head and takes her home. In less than twenty-four hours, she’s upended his self-protected world. Even his dog, Rocky, is in love.

Excerpt

Hauser looked up from his work station. The blonde from the waiting room was in the ER corridor, looking crazed. Without thinking, he headed straight for her.

She rushed forward when she saw him and threw herself at his feet. “Please, Doctor, help me.”

Rick grabbed her under the arms and hauled her back to standing. She looped around his waist before he could stop her.

“Security,” someone else yelled.

An alarm code sounded.

“I got this,” Rick relayed. He captured her face and made her look at him. Wild blue eyes shot from side to side. “Hey. Eyes on me. Only me. There ya go.” His voice calmed when she complied. “Tell me what’s going on.”

“Please,” she begged in a low tone meant only for his ears. “Something dreadful happened in the tunnels.”

He recognized it then, the ghost of real trauma. She’d been through something bad. “All right. You’re safe with me.” He relaxed his hold and felt her tremble in his arms. Her head came to rest against his chest. With a ragged sigh, she nestled into him.

A shudder of unfamiliar emotion shot through him. He hadn’t held a woman in years. Heck, he hadn’t even been this close to another human unless they were injured or dying.

“Tell me your name,” he insisted. Still, he held her.

Bo Peep felt good. Damn good. Slim but strong, all curves and sweet, sexy woman pressed full against him. Rick’s sex-starved body surged to life as if he’d been hit with paddles. Her blonde head rose, and she met his stare. Trust had replaced the fear. When she moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue, his resolve took a nosedive.

Sweet Jesus, what the hell? Rick cleared his throat and untangled himself from her. “I can’t help unless you work with me. What’s your name? I’m Hauser. I mean…Dr. Rick Hauser.”

She stood straight. “Amelia Pennington, and I need your help, Doctor.” Her voice had turned steady. Steadier than his.

“That’s why I’m here. Tell me what happened.”

“There’s a man,” she began. Her gaze snapped to those entering alongside them.

Rick held up one hand to stay the guards, twitching to haul her away. “What happened with the man?”

She didn’t answer. Her laser focus remained on the others.

“Well then, Amelia Pennington…” He took her hand and drew her back to him. “You sure know how to make an entrance. But security is gonna need to ask you a few questions before I can help.”

“No…” she moaned.

“Yes,” he commanded.

She looked to the other men again, appearing to size them up. With surprising strength, she shoved Rick and darted past the guards. And she fled into the night as if the devil himself chased after her.

Buy Links:

Wild Rose Press // Amazon // B&N  // Kobo

 

A little about my friend, About Kathryn Hills

The rich history and many mysteries of New England are the perfect backdrop for Kathryn’s books. Winding roads lined by old stone walls, forgotten cemeteries, grand homes with shadowy pasts… All sparks for her imagination. Whether it’s a quaint seaside town or the vibrant city of Boston, it’s easy for this “hauntingly romantic” author to envision the past mingling with the present.

Taking it further—to have her characters experience the past or present, opposite to “when” they belong—is the fun part. No surprise, some of Kathryn’s favorite stories involve time travel. And ghosts! Sprinkle in some magic, and you’re off on a great adventure.

When not writing, she’s exploring history and taking photographs of the beautiful landscape that surrounds her. Kathryn shares her colonial home with those she loves most—her wonderful husband, daughter, and three crazy dogs.

Romance author, ghost hunter, and lover of things that go bump in the night.

Kathryn Hills ~ Hauntingly Romantic

When she’s not writing, or ghost hunting,  or taking pictures, can You find Kathryn here:

Website // Facebook //Twitter // Pinterest // Wild Rose Press // Amazon //Goodreads

 

 

 

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#NewBookRelease from #author Gina Leuci #WildRosePress #RomSuspense

Its always a pleasure when one of my my Wild Rose Press sistahs drops by with their new book. It’s a double pleasure for me when one of those authors is also a NHRWA chaptermate and friend! Today, I’ve got acclaimed writer GINA LEUCI with me, giving you a little insight into her newest  release, CAGED SOULS. 

Gina’s got a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for y’all, too, so stick around. Here’s my friend, Gina:

Thank you, Peggy, for hosting me today to celebrate the release of Caged Souls, book one of my Well of Lies novel.

The idea of this story started back when I was in college (many years ago). While watching a TV show with my son recently, one of the characters struck a chord with me and I knew he was my antagonist that I’d written oh so long ago. A lot has changed in the world since college, one of which is cell phones, and the started story, as written then, really didn’t have merit in today’s society. I brought the idea to my critique group and they steered me in the direction of writing in first person and pointing out that Caleb had to be the hero, not the villain. The story took on a life of its own and bloomed into a novel that needed to be told in two books. Caged Souls is part one of Grace’s story as she travels to and enters into the town of Wellington: A town where secrets run deep, and lies even deeper.

CAGED SOULS

Spending her summer break from college in the small town of Wellington is not Grace Adams’ first choice for excitement. But when her friend falls for the program’s recruiter she decides to tag along. The moment Wellington’s gates lock behind them, she realizes things are not what they seem.  She knows she is in trouble when the sexy chief of police is put in charge of preventing her escape.

Caleb Wellington is charged with keeping Grace in line after she runs afoul of the town council and local bullies.  He finds himself drawn to her, despite her tendency to challenge the rules, her constant questions, and demands for answers. After all the town needs her…doesn’t it?

With time running out and her future at risk, Caleb must make a choice between his town and saving Grace.

Excerpt:

“I’ve changed my mind. When is the next bus out of here?”

Caleb nodded to the other man who turned and walked away. “And what is the problem now, Grace?”

I stared at him, my hands on my hips, only just not tapping my foot. “No coffee? That’s obscene.”

“Ah, yes. There is always one who has difficulty with that rule.”

“It’s a stupid rule.”

He smirked. Sure, no emotion on anything else, but he thinks this is funny? I was not amused.

“Coffee, along with alcohol and drugs, contain ingredients limiting our abilities to choose or think clearly. Living a healthier lifestyle allows us to have a better connection with each other and with God.”

My jaw dropped. He was serious. “I get cranky without my coffee.”

“So I see.” The hint of sarcasm was my undoing.

“Shut up,” I yelled, then I pushed him. Okay, maybe pushed is the wrong word. I attempted to shove him, but he didn’t budge an inch. The entire room went quiet and I had a momentary sense of clarity as my eyes connected with his dark steel gaze.

“Okay, I should not have done that. Because you are…” I gulped and instantly became contrite. I slowly moved my hands from his rock-hard chest, “…really big and you could probably snap me like a twig. So don’t. Okay?”

Peggy here: sounds great, doesn’t it?! Thanks so much, Gina, for stopping by and giving us a little taste of Caged Souls.

Thank you all for coming to visit me today. I will be having a couple giveaways including a signed copy of Caged Souls, as well as some mug rugs and snap bags, so leave a comment and I will be drawing a name later today. I hope you enjoy Caged Souls and visit me at www.ginaleuci.com or on facebook at: http://www./facebook.com/GinaLeuciAuthor for updates for book two, Captive Hearts.

A little about Gina: 

Gina Leuci started reading romance at the age of thirteen and never stopped. She met her soul mate on a blind date and married him—not once, but twice (eloped and church wedding). They live in Southern New Hampshire with their son, who makes them laugh every day.

You can find Gina here:

Amazon  // Goodreads  // Twitter  // Wild Rose Press // 

Website

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An #interview with #RITA AWARD Nominee Lisa Olech

Today is one of the happiest days I’ve ever written for this blog. One of the dearest, funniest, and most talented authors I know, Lisa Olech, is visiting me and we’re discussing her recent RITA AWARD NOMINATION. Can  I just tell you how cool it is that I know, personally, a RITA NOMINEE?!! Fan girl moment here, folks, so bear with me. Lisa and I are NHRWA chaptermates and she was the very first person I met when I joined the chapter in 2014. At that time she’d just heard that her very first book was going to be published and even though I didn’t know her well at the time, her joy was infectious and palpable. I knew she was going to sore in the publishing world….and I was right!

When I heard Lisa was a 2018 nominee I simply had to have her on my blog to tell us about the book, her thoughts on being nominated, and her journey to publication. So sit back and relax and enjoy this little tete-a-tete.

1.What year did you first get published in the romance genre?

My first book, PICTURE ME NAKED was published in November, 2013. Somehow, I knew this book would be my “foot in the door” so to speak. It was the start of my Stoddard School of Art series and was published with The Wild Rose Press. There are two more books in that series, and I’m seriously contemplating a fourth!

2.What was that process like, i.e. how long had you been trying to get a story into print?

Years!! I’ve been writing novel length works for more than a dozen years, and had been seeking publication and agent representation for about seven. I happened to enter and win the RWA-ETC Southern Heat Contest in 2012, and one of the final judges was Rhonda Penders of The Wild Rose Press. She asked for a rewrite to make the book a bit more steamy, and I signed with them soon after. I signed on with my agent the very next day.

  1.  What was your first book about? Give us a little taste.

 Picture Me Naked is about a portrait artist and her nude model. He’s an outrageous, free-spirit who’s more comfortable out of his clothes than in. She is a rather uptight, self conscious artist who learns to love herself, as she comes to love him and see herself through his eyes.

  

  1. How many books have you had published to date?

I have eight books currently. Three in my art school series, and another five with Kensington, Lyrical. This series is historical rather than contemporary, and is set during the Golden Age of Piracy. Love my pirates!

5.What do you remember about the call from the RWA board member telling you you were a RITA NOMINEE? What did you feel? Do? Say?

Of course, I knew the calls were being made that morning, and I was trying very hard to be positive and at the same time not get my hopes up. This was the fourth time I’d entered, and I knew the disappointment that happened when the minutes ticked by and the phone didn’t ring. But this time, I filled my morning to overflowing so I would be too busy to watch the clock. Maybe I’d get so busy I’d forget and the day would pass… I was at work at my “day job.” And as luck would have it, I was being shadowed by a lovely young woman, named Heidi, who was learning the new software we recently implemented.

            Then my cell phone rang. It was earlier than I expected. I was sure it couldn’t be RWA, but my hands shook as I tried six times to swipe the screen and answer the call. The woman on the other end said, “Hi, Lisa? This is Donna Alward. I’m calling from the RWA. Congratulations.” I think my brain shut off at that point. I know somehow I leaped over poor Heidi like she was track-and-field hurdle, and rushed into the hallway where the only words I could keep repeating were, “Oh, my God!” and “Are you sure?” I even forgot Donna’s name and had to ask, “Who are you again?” By this time I was shaking and crying and my boss was out of her office cheering!

  1. For what book and RITA category have you been nominated?

I’m nominated in the Short Historical category for WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S SOUL.

  1. Tell us a little about the book. (How about a lot?)

WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S SOUL is the fifth and last book of my Captains of the Scarlet Night Series. If I could pick a favorite, I believe this would be the one (thus far!). It has been a special book for me from the beginning which makes this Rita nomination even more amazing. For one, it almost didn’t happen. I tried to kill my hero off in an earlier book!

I mean a pirates life is a hard one, and as they are known to say, there are only a few ways off a ship. Feet first with cannon balls lashed to your ankles is one of them! But this character, William “Bump” Quinn was first introduced in book two when he came aboard the Scarlet Night as a child. A Jamaican street urchin. A deaf Jamaican street urchin. Not being able to hear he was always where he shouldn’t be when something fell or got swinging, and his first few days, he got knocked around a bit…hence the nickname “Bump.” Bump was clever, however, and soon learned the ways of life aboard ship and grew into a fine sailor, and a fierce pirate. Tall, strapping…gorgeous…

            Well, as I said, I tried to kill him off, but the uproar this caused with my critique partners and plotting group was overwhelmingly “NO! You can’t kill Bump!” They had come to love him as I had. So, I saved him from my savage pen, and he became the obvious hero of the last book and final act.

            Being deaf, William used a form of sign language, but being non-verbal, all his communication needed to be physical—sign, body language, touch. Writing his book was quite a test for me as a writer. I need to thank the wonderful people from the deaf community who helped me make William “Bump” Quinn one of those characters an author (and hopefully, a reader) will never forget.

            Let’s not overlook my heroine, Jin Jun. Jun’s character was based on the real-life female pirate, Ching Shih. Ching Shih was one of the most ferocious and successful pirates of all time. She was a pirate queen.

            Bringing these two incredible characters together was a unique challenge, but made for an amazing story.

             

8.. Everyone says it’s wonderful to be nominated, and it is, but what do you think winning would do for you professionally? Personally? What has being nominated done for you? More sales? More name recognition?

Well, it’s only been a few days since the “fateful call.” So I can’t speak to the effects of that yet. And, honestly, I have no idea what happens from here. All I do know is I am honored and thrilled beyond words, and I plan to wrap myself in this feeling for quite a while.

9. What’s next for you career-wise?     

Good question! I have several proposals in the works. Time will tell. I have two series that splinter off my pirate captains. I also have a series set during the 1900’s that I’m playing with. Or I may head back into a contemporary story. I’m one of those writers that needs to follow her heart. Who knows where it will lead!

10. Will you be attending RWA18?

You better believe it!!!

 (Peggy here: and I will be, too, cheering her on with other NHRWA chapermates who love her and are so proud of her!)

A little about Lisa:

Lisa A. Olech is a multi-published, twin-genre author. Her quirky, artist contemporaries pair well with her historical, swash-buckling, cutlass swinging pirates—or at least they play well in her head. Of course one of these days she may cross streams and write about an artist with an eye patch, or a pirate with a flair for color.

Living in New Hampshire surrounded by lakes and “On Golden Pond” references, Lisa’s been writing for more than a dozen years and has been an RWA member since 2008.

You can reach her at all the social media hot spots and on her website www.lisaolech.com. Or you can email her at lisa@lisaolech.com.

 

EXCERPT from WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S SOUL

Chapter 1

Madagascar, 1717

William Quinn hated the dark. His companion had taken the lantern when she left. He could still smell the spiced honey of her skin and the musk of their sex in the rumpled sheets. She’d been a tiger in bed. His flesh still burned where her nails had raked his back. He’d lost himself for an hour or two between her smooth dark thighs. He only wished he’d learned her name.

Will lay in the bed and closed his eyes to the darkness. It was easier to visualize the layout of the room from memory this way. The door was to starboard. A three-drawer chest sat a foot to port. His pants were another matter. Where had she tossed them? She’d been in a terrible hurry to put her mouth on him. When she’d stripped him and seen his engorged cock, a smile spread across her shining face as if she’d discovered some long lost treasure. After that, she was driven by a single-minded desire. She’d been a most eager partner.

He rose and found his pants along with the wide blood-red sash he wore about his waist. And one boot. All the while, his limited sense was still on high alert. In this darkness, it would be easy to hide and ambush him. It wasn’t as if he’d hear anyone approaching, but having lost his hearing at such a young age, over his lifetime, he’d honed his other senses to razor sharp. Will lifted his nose and gave another sniff. No, he was alone.

The heat along this stretch of the world limited his choice of clothing. Bare chested, he slipped into a tooled leather vest. He patted the breast pocket. His lusty partner wasn’t interested in his winnings from tonight’s poker tables. As the daughter of one of the local pepper merchants, money was not what she longed for. Madagascar pepper was considered black gold along this great treasure route. Her father was one of the wealthiest men in the city.

Will found his other boot, and sat on the edge of the bed to slip them on his feet. He sat there for a long moment. The hollow beating of his heart echoed in his chest. Even after hours of pleasure, the only thing sated was his body.

This girl, whoever she was, hadn’t been interested in his newfound wealth or even knowing who he was. She’d only been interested in lying with him. It was the same wherever he went these days. He’d become a novelty.

Sex with the silent man.

It wasn’t as if he could brag about his conquests. Tell tales of your night in his bed. He wouldn’t bore you with long stories, or shout demands. He was deaf and never learned the basic fundamentals of speech. For some reason that made women eager to spread their legs for him. At least for one meaningless night.

Making his way to the door, Will wasn’t surprised to find the public rooms below still doing a brisk business. Time held no meaning to these establishments. Glancing toward the back corner, the poker game still wore on. He was tempted to add to his already bulging purse. Tonight’s profits had come too easy, but then it had always been a talent of his to read faces. Call it a lucrative byproduct of being deaf. Whether bluffing at cards or dealing with his crew, he could spot a liar at fifty yards.

Will’s long legs carried him quickly through the dangerous dark streets. At more than six and a half feet tall, he made an imposing figure. The three-pistol baldric and side cutlass helped. As did his permanent scowl. He pulled a short knife from a leather sheath and carried it at his side. For two reasons. A handy weapon was never a bad idea, and the high polish on the blade gave him the perfect view of anyone trying to approach him from behind.

Will reached the docks without incident and was finally able to breathe easy when he dropped down upon the polished decks of the Scarlet Night. The gentle tip of the boards shifting beneath his feet, the smell of tarred rigging, and the sight of her three thick masts brought a smile to his face. He was home.

Peggy here: KIds, you gotta get these books. If you like swashbuckling, steamy, sexy heroes and heroines, stories that are chockful of intrigue, adventure, and romance, Lisa’s pirate books are right up your alley. If you like stories of talented, moody, and (again) sexy characters willing to sacrifice all for love, The Stoddard  School  of Art series is  for you, too. Oh Hell! Any of Lisa’s books are for you!! 

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#BookPromo and #CharacterInterview with Donna Simmonetta

You all know I love love love when a Wild Rose sistah comes to visit, and I especially love when that sistah beings one of her characters! Today, we’re visiting with author Donna Simonetta and Heather Braden, whom we first met in A Sweeter Spot, book one in the Rivers Bend trilogy, and get to know better in the new release, Love is Lovelier. She’s mixed up one of her signature cocktails for the interview, so let us pour you a Mai Tai, and hear what she has to say.

Heather, you’re from the tiny town of Rivers Bend, Virginia. Tell us what it is that draws you to live there.

(Smiles in a way that lights up the room) Well, it’s my hometown. I was born and raised there. But there are lots of things that keep me living there. The scenery is beautiful…rolling fields, the winding river wending its way through the town, the blue ridge mountains in the distance. It’s truly lovely. The best thing about the town though, has to be the people! For some reason, Rivers Bend seems to attract quirky, fun people. They might be in your business a little too much, but it’s done out of love, and frankly, it’s kind of nice living in a place where you know everyone has your back.

So you never considered living anywhere else?

After high school, I did move to Portland, Oregon to help my brother Jeff with his daughter after her mom died. And it was fun living there, but it never really felt like home, y’know?

You strike me as the kind of person who would have fun wherever you are living.

(Throws back her head and laughs) That’s probably true. Mick Evans would certainly say it about me.

Since you brought up Mick Evans, I have to ask…in A Sweeter Spot, you did not seem at all pleased to learn he was moving to Rivers Bend to be your boss at the Retreat. How are things going between you?

(Blushes to the roots of her sun-kissed brown hair) We’ve had our ups and downs. (Pauses, and takes a long sip of her fruity cocktail) You see, Mick and I have a bit of a history together. And those pesky feelings for each other don’t seem to want to stay in the past where they belong.

(Waits several beats, but Heather doesn’t seem inclined to continue) Okaaay…how about this question. You are known in Rivers Bend for creating signature cocktails for different events.

(Leans forward eagerly and nods, brushing her choppy bangs back off her face) I even have a tiki bar in my little apartment over my sister’s café, the Nosh Pit. I love to try to find the perfect creation to celebrate different events. For my mother’s annual Kentucky Derby party at her horse farm, I made frozen Mint Juleps this year, and they were quite a hit with everyone.

If you were going to have a drink that represents Mick, what would it be, and why?

(Screws up her mouth and narrows her eyes as she considers) An aged Scotch. Neat. Like Mick, it’s classic, elegant, smooth, but a single sip and I’m knocked off my feet!

That certainly doesn’t sound like your feelings are in the past. How does Mick feel?

(Shrugs) You’d have to ask him.

But Mick isn’t here with us today, so I’m asking you…are you two an item again?

We are drawn together––it’s the old cliché about opposites attracting. But, there are a lot of reasons…valid reasons, good reasons…for the two of us to remain just friends. So, that’s what we’re trying to do.

How’s that working for you?

(Grins and winks) You’ll have to read Love is Lovelier to find out!

Heather and Mick have a long history together, and Heather wants to leave it in the past where it belongs. Yet, here Mick is, very much in her present, thanks to her brother Jeff, who hired Mick to be her boss at the Retreat at Rivers Bend.

It wouldn’t be so bad, except Heather and Mick are still attracted to each other like metal to a magnet. Oh, and her brother is considering offering Mick a partnership in the Retreat, which by rights should be hers. And even if they act on their attraction, Heather is a small-town, country girl, and proud of it, whereas Mick can’t get far enough from his West Virginia coal-mining roots.

Will they be able to get a second chance at their first love and find their happy ending together in Rivers Bend?

Excerpt:

“Stick close. I’ll get you out of here.”

He used his broad shoulders as a wedge to propel himself through the crowd; Heather scurried to keep up with him so she could take advantage of the gap he created, not wanting to be so close that she could feel the warmth of his body through his elegant suit, but because she needed somehow to beat this crush of people to the Retreat to make sure that everything was in place for the post-christening party she’d planned for Bethanne – only perfection would do for her BFF.

She watched Mick’s back as she stuck close to him; he looked so strong and fit – it was hard to imagine him the way he was ten years ago, when he’d suffered his NFL career-ending injury, but the same business acumen that kept him with the Portland Pintos organization back then was the reason Jeff and Cisco hired him at the Retreat.

He’d be good for business – she’d just have to keep chanting those words in her head like a mantra, or else she’d do one of two things she’d regret – kill Mick, or kiss him, and she’d gone the kissing route with him before. It did not end well. And tempting as the killing option was at the moment, it probably wouldn’t end any better.

Buy Links:

Amazon // B&N  // The Wild Rose Press // Amazon UK

A little about Donna :

My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

 

 

YOU can connect with Donna here:

Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Amazon // Book Bub

My review of LOVE IS LOVELIER can be found here: Goodreads

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Just in time for #ValentinesDay

A few years ago I was part of a Wild Rose Press series called the CANDY HEARTS. Each little novella told a love story centered around the candy sweetheart candies. This year, WRP has decided to do a series of boxes sets of those Candy Hearts books and I’m in the first one OUT TODAY!!!

The collection I’m in is called BE MY HERO and you can order it here. 

A quick little synopsis of each book is below. Get yours today and get a jump start on your Valentine’s Day love!!

 3 Wishes by Peggy Jaeger 
Valentine’s Day is Chloe San Valentino’s birthday. Her birthday wish list for the perfect man: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, but this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her three wishes.

Say Yes by Katie O’Sullivan
Darby Malone has trouble saying no. Hosting a children’s Valentine party at her recently renovated gallery is the last straw, and the last time she intends to say yes to anything. That is, until she meets Ben.
Ben Phillips’ life has been empty since his wife died, his paintings the only thing giving him solace. Can he convince Darby to give him a chance – and to consider him for more than just a place on her gallery walls? Will she give him a place in her heart as well?

You & Me by Stephanie Kepke 
Forty-year-old Alex Spencer has given up on love. Her life revolves around her daughter, sixteen-year-old Josie, even if Josie wants nothing to do with her.
But with Valentine’s Day looming, Alex’s former high school sweetheart, Billy Leibowitz, has been invading her thoughts. Now Candy Hearts are arriving in the mail. Is Billy sending the Candy Hearts? Will this finally be her chance at happily ever after?

One Kiss by Misty Simon 
The last place Lorena Weber wants to be on Valentine’s Day is a singles party. She’ll give it an hour —two, tops. But she didn’t plan on seeing the one man who had turned her world on its side New Year’s Eve.
Caleb Manning got coerced into attending this ridiculous party by a co-worker. His plan was to stay for an hour. That was until he recognized Lorena across the room and had to see if that one kiss was only New Year’s Eve magic or something more.

Dare Me by Debra Druzy
For wedding stylist Misty Morningside, mixing business with pleasure is a professional no-no. That is, until she runs into wedding photographer Adam Wright at a Valentine’s Day event. Dare they set aside business for one night of pleasure?

Ask Me by Laura Strickland 
Leo Rankin attends the library’s Blind Date With a Book and finds himself competing for the last remaining book. Wild child Gerri Webb is not his usual type. Yet he feels an immediate, sizzling attraction and agrees to share the book and its accompanying bag of candy hearts.
The whole idea of a Blind Date With a Book is to go off genre, so Gerri doesn’t mind when their flirty conversation suggests they unwrap each other rather than the mystery book. When a candy heart advises, “Ask Me,” she asks Leo back to her apartment. She never expects button-down Leo to hit all her buttons. Can one night spent off genre translate to real life?

Chill Out by Jana Richards
Renata Cabral needs to hide for the weekend. Her cousin’s Valentine’s Day wedding means she’ll face embarrassing questions from her large, extended family, questions she’s not ready to answer. So, she invents a work-related excuse and escapes to a friend’s lakeside cottage.
Noah Brownlee is ready to mend his broken relationship with his brother. When a friend offers the use of his lakeside cottage, Noah arrives in the middle of a blizzard with his English Mastiff, only to find the place is already occupied by a woman with big brown eyes and quirky sense of humor.
As the blizzard rages, can the candy hearts predict love?

You can find me here if you need me :Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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Christmas/Holiday Traditions

Growing up in the 60’s, times were different. We didn’t have the Internet, Facebook, or any social media, so staying in touch with people who lived far away was usually done during the holiday season with the sending of the yearly Christmas card. Nowadays, we can keep in touch with relatives and friends a dozen times zones away much easier – and for no postage costs! People still do, though, send out holiday greeting cards, a custom that was started around 1843 by a civil servant in England called Henry Cole. He and his friend John Horsley designed the very first cards and sold them for a shilling each. As the quality of printing improved and people earned more money for “extravagant” items, Christmas cards became more popular. Again, back before the cyberuniverse ruled the world, the postal service did the majority of its delivering during two holidays every year – Christmas and Mother’s day.

I’m going to be honest and tell you I haven’t sent out holiday cards in years. The people I want to keep in touch with, I do, all year round. Facebook has made it possible to connect and keep up with people much more easily than ever before. I simply don’t have the time or the inclination to sit down and send a card to someone I spoke with yesterday! IF that’s a little Scrooge-y, okay. I’ll own that.

 

Another thing that was different when I was growing up was the Christmas tree and the ornaments we decorated it with. I don’t have one memory that isn’t filled with the tree being filled with those awful and cheap glass ornaments in a variety of colors. they were horrendously made and produced — I feel — simply to shatter. Truly. If you walked near the tree a ball would fall to the floor no matter how well you’d secured it, and shatter into ten thousand shards of glass that was almost impossible to completely sweep or vacuum up. I distinctly remember walking in my living room when I was eight in July and getting my foot pierced by the sharp remnants of a fallen, broken ball. The very first decorations put on trees when they became popular in the 18th century was apples, oranges, and -God Help me!– lit candles. Hallmark began producing specialized ornaments during the 20th century to depict all manner of thing and today, most homes in America that put up a tree, have at least one Hallmark-inspired or made ornament. I’ve been honest on my Instagram account and share pictures of the 4 trees I have in my home. Almost all of my ornaments – except for the tree filled with ornaments from the countries I’ve traveled to – are Hallmark ornaments.

 

Do you put a candle in your window during the Christmas season ( or one in each window!!)?

This tradition means different things to people of different faiths. Christians liken a lit candle to the Star of Bethlehem, guiding the wise men to the manger. The lights from a Menorah symbolize the miracle of Chanukah when a single jug of oil burned for 8 solid days. Irish Catholics used to put candles in the window to denote that the house was safe for Priests to enter during the Protestant uprising when Priests were in danger of being put to death. I like candles in the window because to me they symbolize that the way home will always be lit for whoever wants to journey there. The Alabama song Candle in the Window exemplifies this thought.

There are so many traditions that people hold fast to during the holiday season. I think that’s what makes our shared humanity so wonderful. Different cultures and diverse religions bring many things to the table. WOuldn’t it be nice if we could all respect, honor, and enjoy one anothers traditions?
So ( you knew this was coming!) what are some of your favorite Holiday traditions. I’m going to pick one person who comments and send them an ecopy of my Christmas book A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. So….talk to me.

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Celebrating Christmas with two crazy families…

This Holiday Season I’m channeling my inner Attic Elf and while I’m playing White Christmas on a continuous loop on my CD player, I want to  tell you the inspiration behind my favorite family, The San Valentino’s of Manhattan,

My parents split when I was an infant and both remarried. My parents are of Irish extraction, my stepmother the same. My stepfather, though, was first generation Italian/American. This made for some memorable Christmas get-togethers during my childhood.

Christmas Eve was usually spent with the Italian relatives, starting at around 4 p.m. with the first course of the Feast of the 7 fishes. Every hour on the hour for 7 full hours a different fish course was served by my Sicilian-speaking-only step-grandmother.And with every course, a new bottle of wine would be served, so that by the time my mother, stepfather and I left, most of the relatives were gluttonously full and three sheets to the wind drunk. It made for many an interesting evening, especially when they all started spewing in Italian just so my mother and I couldn’t understand what was being said. (P.S. most of it was about us!!!)

Christmas day was always spent with Irish relatives, starting with Midnight Mass Christmas eve,( and yes, we traveled to them as soon as the last fish course was finished on the Italo side.) and culminating in a day of drinking and eating. And when I say drinking I mean it in the purely alcoholic sense. Unlike with the stepfamily, my mother’s family consumed more booze than food. And they started drinking earlier, too. Like noon early. There would only be two courses for dinner, which was usually served at 5 without any food before that, because my Irish grandmother didn’t want any of us to spoil our dinners and eat too much before the meal was served. I never understood how she didn’t equate the falling asleep drunks at the dinner table with the lack of food to sop up the afternoon booze. By seven p.m. most of them would be passed out in various lounge chairs and couches, the Yule Log blasting Christmas music in the background to drown out the yelling coming from the kitchen where my mother, her mother, and my aunt would be fighting about….anything and everything.

From the time I realized my family was different from all the other families in my school I started asking Santa for a different family every year for Christmas. The number one item on my Santa wish list was : a family that didn’t fight, drink, or yell. I think I actually wrote that for eight years straight. When I never got the family I wished for, I stopped writing it down.

But I never stopped wishing for it.

It wasn’t until I was married and made my own family that my wish turned into my reality.

When I wrote my very first Christmas romance, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, I invented the family I wished for as a child. The San Valentinos are loyal and loving and they do fight – but only in the best sense of the word because they fight for each other, not against one another. I got my wished-for family twice: One, I married; the other I created.

A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Gia San Valentino is the beloved baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family. Family dramas, passion, and food rule the San Valentino clan, and Gia takes it all in stride, her family the touchstone of her life. But with Christmas fast approaching she longs for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to are all wise guy wanna-bes, with old world views on women – the pregnant and barefoot kind – just the type of man she’s trying to avoid.

When Gia lends a helping hand at her neighborhood parish’s Christmas Festival she meets a guy who has all her requirements for perfect-man status. Tall, sweet, good looking, and from a big Italian family of his own, it seems she might finally have found a man she can give her heart to. When a miscommunication has her believing he’s the new parish priest, her happily-ever-after hopes evaporate because he’s the proverbial forbidden fruit.

Or is he?

Buy Links: Amazon // Wild Rose Press // Barnes and Noble // KOBO // Google Play

Question for Readers: Do you come from a Big family or a small one? I’ll be picking one reader who comments to receive an e-copy of A Kiss Under The Christmas Lights. Comment in the comments section and let me know!!

When I’m not writing about crazy families you can find me here : Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

And please visit these wonderful author blog sites for more Christmas in the Highway Cafe fun!

December 4
Holland Rae – https://hollandrae.com/
Susanne Matthews – https://mhsusannematthews.wordpress.com/
Sorchia DuBois – www.sorchiadubois.com
Mariah Lynne –
December 5
Tena Stetler – http://www.tenastetler.com/category/my-say-what-blog/
Maureen Bonatch – http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/
Peggy Jaeger – https://peggyjaeger.com/
Barbara Burke – https://barbaraburkeauthor.wordpress.com/
December 6
Kelly Kalmanson – http://kkweil.blogspot.com
M.S. Spencer – http://msspencertalespinner.blogspot.com
Hywela Lyn – www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com
Reggi Allder – https://reggiallder.blogspot.com/
December 7
Denyse Bridger – http://www.fantasypages.ca
Clair de Lune – https://clairdelunebooks.co.uk/
Karen Blake-Hall – https://kaydenclaremont.wordpress.com/
Casi McLean – http://casimclean.com/a-christmas-to-remember/
December 8
Darlene Fredette – http://findingthewritewords.blogspot.com
Daryl Devore – http://daryldevore.blogspot.ca
Gini Rifkin – http://ginirifkin.blogspot.com
Linda Carroll-Bradd – http://blog.lindacarroll-bradd.com

 

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