Friday, May 28, 2010

Release Day!!!

No Turning Back is officially "out" today. It's already up on Amazon and the Kindle Store, so I'm hoping people will find it soon.

Cover of Darkness has received some awesome reviews, and every single one has mentioned they wanted to see a sequel, so...go read it, people!

To win a digital copy, leave me a comment. Hope you love Ben, because he really comes a long way in this book. His emotional journey wasn't easy for either of us, believe me :) But I love him anyhow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No Turning Back Contest

Two days until the official release of No Turning Back! I'm over at Writers Gone Wild today, hosting a contest. To enter, stop by and leave me a comment. I'll pick the winner on Friday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beth Trissel

Please welcome the lovely Beth Trissel, author of gorgeous historical and light paranormal romances for The Wild Rose Press. Not only did she final in the Golden Heart contest in 2008, but she also won the Publishers Weekly Readers Choice Best Books of 2009. She's one talented lady, and lucky you--she's going to give away a digital copy of her newest book, Somewhere My Lass, to one commenter.

From the stunning Shenandoah Valley in Virginia (prime Civil War country, by the way, and I'm eternally jealous that she lives there!), here's Beth.

Tell us about Somewhere My Lass.
Thanks so much for having me on your lovely blog. I’m excited about my new release, my first story set outside the U. S. Somewhere My Lass is a unique suspenseful Scottish time travel romance. It opens in a Victorian home in historic Staunton, Virginia, the oldest city (small) in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

This is the second book of the series. How did it come about?
Yes, Somewhere My Lass is the second release in my ‘Somewhere’ series, the premise being that the story opens the present day, so far in an old house in Virginia, then the reader is transported ‘Somewhere’ else. Either back in time in the same house, as in Somewhere My Love, or an entirely different place as in Somewhere My Lass. The opening of this story was inspired, as many of my tales are, by a dream that grabbed my attention and made me wonder where in the world do I go from here? Inquiring minds like mine want to know the rest of the story and so I delved and plotted.

Tell us about the interesting facts you unearthed when you researched these stories.
I’ve uncovered a wealth of information researching various time periods and the many facets that go along with a particular setting. The study I did for Somewhere My Lass boggles the mind and makes it difficult to know where to begin. One fascinating archeological discovery that influenced this story is the ancient hospital run by monks at Soutra, high in the Lammermuir Hills, near Edinburgh. This Medieval hospital was dedicated to looking after the poor, travelers, and pilgrims as well as the sick and infirm. Ancient Scotland did a lot more with medicines than I realized.

To quote from the above site: “Evidence…suggests the medieval Augustine monks also knew how to amputate limbs, fashion surgical instruments, induce birth, stop scurvy and even create hangover cures. The excavations at Soutra have also unearthed fragments of pottery vessels that were once used for storing medicines such as an analgesic salve made from opium and grease and treatment for parasitic and intestinal worms. Dressings have also been found, some still with salves or human tissues attached and the scientists have discovered a mixture of Quicklime (calcium oxide) which scientists believe was used as a disinfectant and a deodorant.”

“Dr Brian Moffat archeo-ethno-pharmocologist and director of investigations for the Soutra Project, studies clumps of seeds from the site. He said the scientists trawl literature of the period to try and identify remedies the herbs could have been used to create. They then search the site to find medical waste evidence to support their theories…”

I love that you take such care in your research! How much does the setting influence the story?
The setting is all important and requires a lot of study to understand and get to know.

What advice would you give an author in terms of writing historical romance? How much history is too much?
You can never learn too much, but only use a fraction of what you know. Research is my armor. Without it, I can’t walk across the room, feed or clothe my characters…even if I don’t use a particular detail I need to know what’s feasible for that time period. And if I depart from the norm, need to know what that norm is.

Great advice, Beth. How do you decide which events and how much historical detail to include in your stories?
As much as enhances the story, moves it forward, makes the reader feel they are ‘there.’ Be careful not to use the story as a platform to trot out all your knowledge. I was accused of that in my early days and justifiably so.

I know how dangerous that trap is, because I always end up using fewer nuggets of information than I want to in my books. What advice can you give on pacing in a historical romance?
Keep up the pace! ~The advice given me by the first agent who ever took the time to offer direction. Writing an historical is no excuse for a slow pace. My cardinal rule is Never bore the reader.

Trust me, your readers aren't bored :) So what are you working on next?
I’m at work on my first historical romance set in England. Again, an adventure to write and I’m learning a lot about England and France in 1789, the break out (big time!) of the French Revolution. Heads weren’t rolling yet but the country was aflame and aristocrats fleeing or fighting to hold onto their estates. No Scarlet Pimpernel on the scene yet, but I’ve always been fascinated with Sir Percy Blakeney. We have a noble gray tabby named Percy. After this story is completed, I plan to work in a sequel to Somewhere My Lass.

Thanks for coming by Beth, and giving us a glimpse into your writing world. Please feel free to stop by Beth's website to check out her many other works.

Neil MacKenzie’s well ordered life turns to chaos when Mora Campbell shows up claiming he’s her fiancĂ© from 1602 Scotland. Her avowal that she was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, is utter nonsense, and Neil must convince her that she is just addled from a blow to her head–or so he believes until the MacDonald himself shows up wanting blood. Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past. Although her kinsmen believe he’s dead, and she is now destined to marry Niall’s brother, she’s convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The only problem is how to get back to 1602 before it’s too late. The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. An ancient relic and a few good friends in the future help pave the way back to the past, but will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's On

By now you all know how much I love my garden. I slave over it. I coddle every plant and lovingly tend to each blossom. I tuck angels and faeries in amongst the greenery and hang wind chimes to catch the breezes that blow off the water beneath the bluff. But this past week I've taken that guardianship to a whole new level.

When we moved in I didn't know squat about gardens, but I learned in a hurry. In fact, I went plant wild and couldn't bear to drive past a nursery without stopping to bring home another treasure. Then one day I ordered a load of compost to feed my new darlings. Only I didn't know I was bringing a new enemy home with me.

A few weeks after the compost was laid down, weird bites began to appear in some of the leaves of my plants. I noticed it on the rhododendrons initially, then the azaleas. But pretty quick the astilbes started to get chewed to nothing, and the heucheras too, not to mention my gorgeous hydrangeas.
If there was anything left of the plant, it looked like someone had blasted it with a shotgun. Shredded and full of holes. Frustrated because I could never see any bugs on the plants, I picked off a few leaves and took them into a nursery. The woman looked up at me with such sympathy in her eyes that my stomach dropped. "You've got black vine weevils, hon," she said.

I'm convinced this is the most evil insect known to mankind, and the arch enemy of gardeners. The adults are about the size of lady bugs, and only come out at night to feed. After they lay waste to the foliage and blooms for a few weeks, they lay eggs deep in the roots of the plants where the larvae feast away, often killing the plant. They're the exact color of dirt so you can't see them, and if you disturb them they freeze and fall off the plant so you'll never be able to find them. Each adult becomes a female that lays between 200 and 800 eggs. You do the math.

I've tried everything to get rid of them. For six years I've put down parasitic nematodes to kill the larvae, but with limited results despite the thousands of dollars I've spent. Turns out, nematodes don't work in clay soil, which is primarily what I've got. Pesticides haven't worked, and the entomologist I talked to (yes, I really did contact an expert) said they've become immune to all commercial pesticides. So the only thing left for me to do is hand pick them off the plants. Every freaking plant on my property. In the middle of the night, when it's dark, and it takes me around two hours to do a thorough search.

So I've officially declared war on the evil weevils. Early May is the critical time to get to the adults before they start laying eggs. This past week I've been out every night from ten until midnight, pulling them off my plants. Rain didn't stop me, nor wind nor even Strep throat. Running a fever and on antibiotics, I still got out there with my flashlight and threw any I could catch into a bucket of water. And I didn't feel bad at all about drowning them. Not one little bit. If I can't catch them between my fingers, I squish them with my thumb against the leaf they're trying to devour. I've come to like the snapping sound their little shells make when I kill them. Thus far, I've found enough adults to make a half-inch thick layer in the bottom of my two gallon bucket.

But every night I go out, there are still more adults roaming on my plants. That gives me a vague idea of how many larvae are sleeping underground, waiting to crawl out and start munching on the smorgasbord I've planted for them. God, I hate the little buggers.

I'm not ready to concede defeat yet, but I may have to bite the bullet and dig out the entire garden this fall, replace all the soil with fresh (and sterilized!) stuff, and replace every single plant. Let's just say it's going to take me selling a lot more books to cover the cost of that project.

Wish me luck. Your sympathy is appreciated :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Swing over to Writers Gone Wild today, where I'm talking about the last book of my romantic suspense series, Absolution.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For My Mom

Dear Mom:

I wouldn’t have made it without you.

When they pulled me out during the emergency C-section I was already gone, and you were hanging on by a thread. Only a miracle could bring me back. Thankfully, one did.


You held on for me, and I held on for you.

Somehow they got me breathing again, and my tiny little chest rose and fell with each desperate gasp. But I wasn’t ready to go. I wanted to live.

They placed my three pound body into an incubator and hooked me up to the oxygen and feeding tubes that kept me alive for the next two months. I was isolated and alone except for the doctors and nurses that constantly tended to my needs and changed the preemie diapers that came all the way up to my frail shoulders. I wasn’t a pretty baby. I looked more like a skinned rat than an infant, but you loved me anyway. Despite all the medical staff that came and went from my incubator, it was your presence I felt the most. It was your touch that I responded to when you reached through the portal in the side of my plastic cocoon and stroked a latex-covered finger over my fragile limbs.
Even though you never got to hold me during those early weeks, I sensed your unwavering love and the frantic prayers tumbling through your mind. When I was finally strong enough to open my eyes, yours was the first face I saw. I saw your tear-filled brown eyes and wobbly smile. If I could have spoken to you then, I would have told you not to worry, that it wasn’t your fault. I would have told you I was a fighter, and that I would make it. That I loved you too.

Instead, I tried to tell you those things each time I turned my head at the sound of your voice, or stretched out my little hands to reach for your fingers. I felt your unwavering love for me even then.

And I still do.

I love you mom.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Look at Luke!!!

Isn't he gorgeous? Of course, he was always good looking in my head, but I'm more than relieved that the world will think so too after seeing this beautiful cover. No release date yet, but I'm hoping it will be out by Christmas.

In other news, the retreat at the Silver Spur Ranch was a roaring success. Rhonda Penders (editor-in-chief for The Wild Rose Press) and her family drove me from Austin to the ranch, so I got to know them a bit. She greeted me in the lobby with a big hug, and I fell in love with her right then. Turns out her youngest son is a Civil War buff too, so we had lots to talk about during the drive.

My own editor was there too, and meeting her really made the trip worthwhile. She gave me a few lovely compliments, including that she was surprised I wasn't already agented considering how good the last few books I've written have been (picture me blushing). I think initially we might have had a bit of a rocky start back when I was first assigned to her. We had a difference of opinion on a certain manuscript that needed to be resolved, and I'd always wondered what she thought of me after that :) Everything was handled professionally and things moved smoothly from there, but meeting her face-to-face was an awesome experience. I'm pretty certain she liked me.

I'll try to post some photos when I get home, but right now my hubby is having a fit that I'm on the computer when Disneyland opens in under an hour. Even though we're only a ten minute shuttle ride away. And even though we've already spent three days there. Really.