Monday, December 30, 2013

Pamela Kelt, Ice Trekker, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR: Pamela Kelt
BOOK TITLE: Ice Trekker
BUY LINK: Ice Trekker
WHAT IS IT? Ice Trekker, a teen fantasy ebook.
WHO WILL DELIVER THE PRIZE TO WINNER? Ms. Kelt will send a copy directly to the winner so be sure to leave your contact information.

Tell me a little about your book.
Ice Trekker is a teen fantasy, set in a far-off land, inhabited by friendly Grells and their not-so-friendly rivals, the ruthless Minax.

But the Grells of Hinderland are facing a bleak future.

Supplies of Blackfrost, their one remaining fuel source, have run out. Food is scarce, jobs are hard to find and worse … the greedy Minax are poised to invade from the south.

For the sake of his family, young Midge leaves home and treks north to the frozen wastes of Krønagar, an uncharted land to the north, in search of work. Set upon by thieves, he ends up as dogsbody on the Ice Trekker, a small, shabby cargo vessel that runs into trouble from the start.

Despite evil omens in the sky, monsters from the deep, desperate sea battles, treachery on board and a constant war with the worsening weather, the plucky crew members press north …

But Midge soon discovers that the Ice Trekker is not what it seems. The crew has a secret mission to save the Grells – and Hinderland – from doom.

Trapped by ruthless Minax, he and the crew end up risking all in a desperate battle for survival as they take on a mysterious quest in the icy wastes of Krønagar.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
A visit to Trømso. It’s 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle and pretty epic.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
The terrifying Boar Fish in the story is based on the real-life ugly wolf fish that we saw in the Polar Museum. These wolf fish are definitely the ugliest aquatic life form I’ve ever seen. Feeding time was gross. They half clamber out of the water, jostling with each other. I knew I had to work that into a book.

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas or winter theme?
The icy wilderness that we saw from the plane when we arrived in Norway took my breath away. I found out more about the exploits of the Polar explorers and was astonished at what they endured. It struck me as a wonderful location for a fantasy tale where I could let my imagination run riot.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?
It’s always a risk, isn’t it? However, I think the cover emphasises adventure first, and icy wasteland second, so I’m hoping it will have a year-round appeal. Besides, part two will be further south!

How long before December did you submit to your publisher?
Interesting. I submitted Ice Trekker in November last year, not really thinking about seasonal issues, truth be told. The fact it came out mid-September is an advantage, I hope.

How and why did you choose this publisher?
Well, I’d already had success with two adult titles, so that was the first thing. The story has a transatlantic slant, with characters from different continents thrown together, so I thought it might be well-received. And there’s a lot of snow and ice in Canada!

What about your book makes it special?
It’s a mix of adventure, mythology and an ecological story that I’m hoping will appeal to a young audience. I liked the idea of bringing the quest theme up to date, with a worthy message tucked away, just waiting to be found.

What does Christmas and/or winter mean to you?
I like the colder weather, I really do. I breathe a huge sigh of relief late summer. As I live in the UK, I’m lucky. Summer is blessedly short.

What is your favorite Christmas or winter memory?
My mum and dad bought me a swing for Christmas when I was three. I happened to see the men from the department store when they delivered it, so they pretended to be elves, which was so sweet. And they were huge! They convinced me that I’d seen Santa’s sleigh disappearing behind the clouds. Aaaaah.

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?
A Christmas album, the old-fashioned sort full of stories and quizzes and ‘things to do’.

What was your favorite Christmas present?
My first watch. I felt very grown-up.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
My hub of activity is my author page: It has links to all of my books, for children and adults. Each one has a separate site. I like potential readers to have lots of background! I also have a blog, with more informal info about me and my writing. I also enjoy inviting fellow authors to have their say: Then there’s the usual raft of social networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook, plus my FB author page: Finally, I’ve just joined Google +:

Thanks, Penny. I feel quite Christmassy!


“Hide!” hissed the old sailor, eyes white with fear. He slithered across the icy decking and burrowed into a tangle of fishing nets lying on the dock.
Midge turned his face upward. The navy night sky turned green, laced with purple and orange like oil in water. “What is it?” he asked, ducking into the doorway of a battered wooden boathouse. A rippling movement swept over his head in a giant tidal wave of light. He held his breath as though he were being sucked under water.
“Skythons!” came the terrified reply. “You gets them in Krønagar. But never seen ’em so big before. Horrible things. Horrible!”
Midge stared upward to watch a shimmering snake-like pattern weave and twist across the sky. The effect of long, rippling muscles struck him as so strange and beautiful that he forgot to feel afraid as he gazed at the shifting colours.
“They mean bad luck,” howled the sailor, arm over his eyes.
Up in the cold sky, colours still shimmered. “Surely it’s just superstitious nonsense?” Midge said, still staring. “They can’t be real. Just a trick of the light.” He couldn’t drag his eyes away from the sight as the shape swooped toward the dark line of mountains, arched up, over, and back toward where he stood on the little jetty. He jolted as he thought he saw a giant violet eye, bloodshot and terrible, staring right at him. It was so close he could see it gleam.
Looking round quickly, he found an old fish head. He scooped it up and flung it as far as he could into the harbour waters where it landed with a loud splash. The purple eye swivelled, following the movement of the bait, and the Skython swerved, changing direction with the ease of a supple salmon, skimming the dark waters. Then it snatched at the water, and zoomed upward, the fish head in its claws, before cresting the distant hills.
After a few minutes, the night sky returned to normal, and the glistening moon returned, lighting up the huddled weatherboard huts that formed Siegfried Harbour.
The old sailor clambered out of the foul-smelling nets. “That was close.” He held out gnarled fingers. “The name’s Jegget.”
“Midge.” They shook hands.
“Where d’ you learn that trick, young feller?” he asked, dusting himself down.
“In our corner shop. It kept the rats out of the cellars, except there I used old bacon bones.”
Jegget gave a toothy grin.
“I lobbed them in the landlord’s barn next door. Seemed to work.” Midge shifted as the watery eyes, pale with age, swivelled and stared, eyebrows raised, at the scar on his cheek. He touched the old wound. “Our landlord’s a Minax. He didn’t approve.”
The old mariner grunted and clamped his unlit clay pipe between yellowed teeth. “Them Minax don’t care for anything but themselves,” he grumbled. “And that ruthless new leader of theirs. What’s her name?”
“Empress Koya,” said Midge.
“Yes, her. See how she’s taking over Hinderland! Hardly anything left now.”
“I know, I know,” agreed Midge, shuffling his feet, but too polite to leave.
“No wonder us poor Grells are all trying to scratch a living up here on the frozen edges. While the pesky Minax have the best of everything, eh? It’s not right, is it?”
“No, no. It isn’t.”
“Could turn a decent old sailor to piracy, it could.” Jegget let out a long, world-weary sigh and shouldered open the tatty door of the nearest tavern, before vanishing inside.
Midge shrugged and swallowed a sudden yawn. Sky monsters or not, he needed somewhere to bunk for the night. The tavern looked dark and uninviting, so he decided to head into town to see if he could find anything better.
Checking his satchel was properly closed, he tied down the flap with two round turns and a half hitch, and made his solitary way toward a smattering of distant lights glowing green in the deep turquoise dusk. Apart from the sound of his boots on the icy surface, it was quiet. The other Grells from the ferryboat that sailed earlier from Hinderland were long gone.
He hoped to find a spare bed somewhere. He didn’t take up much room. Anything would be more comfortable than the narrow bunk in the smelly cabin that he’d shared with five others on the choppy crossing.
As he trudged along, he thought about his encounter with old Jegget and the Skythons. In truth, the sailor was right. Life was harder for the Grells than it had ever been.
For centuries, the Grells and Minax rubbed along, clumped in settlements in neighbouring Soderland and Hinderland.
Lately the Minax were throwing their weight about, seizing land, trading posts, villages, towns, and then whole cities…while the mild-mannered Grells just grumbled and retreated.
Midge remembered perching on the landing, listening to his mother and father talking long into the night about how the Minax were demanding more and more rent, while refusing to fix the leaking roofs and damp cellars. It was the same all over. The old king seemed to have given up and retired to his palace deep in the woods of Hinderland, leaving his subjects to struggle.
Midge passed a wooden post outside a run-down boathouse. A torn poster was pinned to it. Ice cutters wanted, he read, smoothing it down as it flapped in the wind. Good rates. Minax, youngsters, or time-wasters need not apply.
Midge snorted, and his nostrils tingled with the unfamiliar smells of fish, salt, oil, and damp wood. It was all quite different from home. He already missed the warm scent of fresh biscuits in his mum’s kitchen.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Claude Clément, Casse-Noisette

AUTOR:  Claude Clément

Book Title: Casse-Noisette

Seuil Jeunesse

What gave you the idea for this story?

In this case, the book is a classic in the literature, the " Casse-Noisette ", adapted by an excellent author named Claude Clemént, she has among her works: The Painter and the Wild Swans, The Voice of the Wood, Musician from the Darkness, Baba Yaga, and others.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with seasonal subjects? If so, which are they?

I do not think so, even more, in this special case it is a book that appears just for Christmas, therefore I think it will be OK and that many children will receive it as a Christmas gift!

How long before December you submitted your editor?

This book was realized early this year and luckily could be published last month, therefore it is already distributed in the libraries in France. It is also distributed in other places of the world and of course, by Amazon and different digital libraries.

How and why did you choose this editor?

In this particular case, the Publisher proposed it to me, he wanted to give a modern vision to the classic that generates a harmony of mystery without coming out from the classic store nor from the fundamental elements of the history, as it is a very beautiful Christmas store and the magic element could not be absent, so there are several visual readings as not to be bored.

What is that makes your book special?

Well, it seems to me that in this book there is a great effort to obtain different stages, also many rhythms in the colours and in the search of the characters. When one decides to illustrate a classic store giving another view, it is complex to see the graphic direction that Hill be given as not not leaving out the history, the balance is fundamental, I think that this would be one of the characteristics that I see in the book, therefore due to all this it is for me a special book.

What does Christmas and/or winter mean for you?

A great joy, how not to be infected with all the universe that brings the Christmas, I think it invites us to meditate conscientiously or not and to give us a view how was the year in our personal life but always with a positive spirit, without any doubt it is a great moment to share.

Which was your favourite Christmas gift?

I should  revert to my memory…I remember a GI JOE war tank for the years eightieth, it was an incredible surprise as it occurs in the pictures, I have seen it in a toy shop and suddenly I saw it when opening the gift parcel, it was magic.

Where could be obtained more information about yourself and your work?

You can se my last Works and news in the blog:

A large format for imaging the famous Tchaikovsky ballet music , danced around the world.

It's Christmas Eve . While other children discover fabulous machines , Clara receives a funny little nutcracker .

That night , unable to fall asleep , the girl got up and returned to the living room it suddenly seems very strange ... And when sounding the stroke of midnight , the room is suddenly invaded by mice . Immediately, the brave little nutcracker brandishes his sword and , while the other toys come alive in turn, took command of his army to battle funny . Victorious, the Nutcracker turns into a beautiful prince who will take Clara in an enchanted kingdom ...

End of the book , a double- page rich in anecdotes reveals the origins of the ballet The Nutcracker as mythical as Giselle , Swan Lake and Coppélia .

An album that plunges us into a dreamlike world with illustrations that draw their inspiration from the surrealist imagination .

Thursday, December 26, 2013

L. J. Holmes, The Christmas War & Christmas Goes Green, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR: L.J. Holmes
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
WHAT IS IT? The winner will get not one, or two, but all THREE of the books in the series. Book One, SANTA IS A LADY is a P&E award winner for 2010…less than two months after its release date.
HOW DO YOU WANT THE WINNER TO BE CHOSEN? Chosen by random selection of everyone who comments, so be sure to leave your contact information in your comment.
WHO WILL DELIVER THE PRIZE TO WINNER? I will send pdf copies of all books to the winner.

Tell me a little about your book.
The Christmas War, is book two in the Christmas Miracles Series. Those who’ve read Book One, Santa Is a Lady, will remember Beck as the friend…sort of…of the heroine in book one. She’s the owner of the sweets store in Northeringale that had her Santa arrested days before Christmas. All the professional Santas are working, so she coerces her friend Angie into donning the jolly elf’s suit.

We didn’t like her in Santa Is A Lady, but in The Christmas War, Beck’s mother is avidly trying to push her into marrying a man Irene can control and quickly, before Beck’s 35th birthday. But there’s a new man in town, friend of Angie’s husband and a minister…a good thing since Northeringale needs to fill the spot of minister. He’s also a man perfectly constructed to throw a monkey wrench or two into Irene’s nefarious plans.

Book Three, Christmas Goes Green stars a young woman who’s a wizard at being a midwife, she’s also tiny…she would be since she’s half leprechaun. Much to her dismay she comes home from helping bring a Christmas Miracle into Northeringale only to find the leprechaun father who exiled her to her mother’s family when she was four waiting to pounce. With the strong scent of poteen filling her nostrils Paddy informs her he needs for her to produce a miracle by finding him a pot-of-gold to replace the one he lost so he can return to Ireland and his clan…otherwise he’s moving in for good.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
Beck’s story came about because when I finished Santa Is A Lady, my daughter, author Kat Holmes said to me, “Mom, you’ve got to redeem Beck and tell her story.” And so a series was born. Tierney’s story came into being because Northeringale is a magical Christmas land. I wanted to bring more magic in…what’s more magical than leprechauns?

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Not really…well except the name for my half leprechaun. When I was growing up Gene Tierney lived nearby. She was so beautiful and I loved her name. When MuseItUp Publishing contracted Tierney O’Malley it resparked my love for Gene Tierney, so I asked Ms. O’Malley if she’d mind if I used her name for my half leprechaun. She graciously said  “YES.” So here we are.

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas or winter theme?
I’m a December baby. Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme? 
When I write a book, my inner muse, whom I somewhat affectionately call NUDGE and I aren’t thinking about the post writing stages.  We have a story to tell.

How long before December did you submit to your publisher?
The Christmas War has been in the process for almost two years. There were a lot of those TECHNICAL issues you were asking about above…although not specifically “marketing” that had to be dealt with. Christmas Goes Green was submitted about a year ago.

How and why did you choose this publisher?
MuseItUp Publishing? Wow…that’s an easy question to answer. I chose MIU because I love the integrity, energy, and the people connected with it. Lea Scizas, the publisher and Litsa Kamateros, the Marketing Director are the best.

What about your book makes it special?
They’re filled with the awe and magic of the season. I created Northeringale so I could make the perfect town where Christmas is more than just the focus of Black Friday.

What does Christmas and/or winter mean to you?
I love the enchantment of snowflakes making their way to the ground. It’s Nature’s crystal powder spreading across the world in a blanket of diamonesque beauty.

What is your favorite Christmas or winter memory?
I was about seven, maybe eight, and my mother, aunt, my brother, cousin and I are crawling on top of a six foot snow drift to get to the country store a mile away. That was so much fun!

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?
My very first Kodak Instamatic camera.

What was your favorite Christmas present? 
Sitting in my rocking chair with my baby in my arms watching the twinklingligths while my baby oohed and ahhed.

Where can people learn more about you and your work? 
At Muse It Up Publishing of course!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Donna J. Shepherd, Ava's Secret Tea Party, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR: Donna J. Shepherd
BOOK TITLE: Ava’s Secret Tea Party
PUBLISHER: Guardian Angel Publishing
WHAT IS IT? Donna will give away a paperback copy of the book.
HOW DO YOU WANT THE WINNER TO BE CHOSEN? Random commenter so please leave contact information.
WHO WILL DELIVER THE PRIZE TO WINNER? Donna will send directly to the winner.

Tell me a little about your book.

The files on my computer tell me that this story started way back in 2005 as a short poem. I was in a critique group at the time and everyone thought I had a good idea, but it needed a lot of work, and it would take more than I had written to flesh out the idea.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?

I wondered if, in fairy tale land, characters know each other. And if so, do they ever meet or compare notes? But I had a timing problem. Some characters have jobs nightly, some only once a year. How would they ever meet? Plus I had a little girl who wanted to have a tea party and meet them all. How could I accomplish all these different variations and it still make sense – in an imaginary way, of course! It took many, many revisions and even a change in POV for me to finally be happy with the story. Oh, and it rhymes, too. But then, that’s my favorite part of writing for children.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

Nothing is based in reality in this story. In fairy tales, anything can happen! The only part based on a real life event would be the fact that there’s a tea party. When my daughter and her cousin were little, they used to have tea parties regularly.

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas or winter theme?

Any story that involved multiple fairy tale characters had to include Santa!

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?

I see marketing a book as challenging any time of the year. Having the addition of seasonal characters does make marketing easier during the times leading up to the holidays, but with children, if the book is fun and a favorite, I don’t think reading a Christmas or Easter book in August would make one bit of difference to them.

How and why did you choose this publisher?

I had been published by Guardian Angel Publishing before and hoped that this book would be accepted, too. I was very glad to see the contract land in my mailbox soon after my submission.

What about your book makes it special?

After many, many revisions, I had polished my rhyme and was satisfied with my story, but passing my ‘baby’ into the illustrator’s court was scary. When I saw Bella Sinclair’s first sketches, I almost danced all over my office. She perfectly captured the wonderment of the tale. Bella even included a parody of Edward Hopper's oil painting "Nighthawks" (1942). Gottfried Helnwein's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" (watercolor, 1984) with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Humphrey Bogart brought together Hollywood icons in one setting. Bella Sinclair has done the same for our most cherished fairy tale characters in a delightfully imaginative way in one of her intricate illustrations.  She also went on to illustrate a book for Jane O'Connor, author of the Fancy Nancy picture book series. After you read Ava’s Secret Tea Party, have fun making the crafts and recipes included in the back of the book. I know I had fun coming up with easy, kid-friendly recipes and crafts that complement what happens in the fairy tale.

What does Christmas and/or winter mean to you?

As a Christian, I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. As a wife and mom, I relish the season as an excuse to serve and spoil my family, and as a friend, I always connect with good friends throughout the season. It’s a busy time of the year, but I love it!

What is your favorite Christmas or winter memory?

I have so many precious memories, but one of my earliest memories is being four years old and running down the wide wooden steps in our old two-story home to find a beautiful baby doll under the tree. I spent the rest of the day giving her a bottle and changing her diaper – that really got wet! I put the cloth diaper on the radiator to dry. I still have that doll.

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?

Why – jewelry, of course! Don’t good things come in small packages? I’ve found that to be the case.

What was your favorite Christmas present?

I actually received a second-hand Christmas present that ended up being my favorite. My sister’s new husband bought a puppy for her for Christmas, but his old cat abhorred the new puppy, so guess who ended up with a toy poodle? I had Angel for twelve years and just lost her to cancer December12, 2012. She was the inspiration for another of my children’s books, Poodle and Doodle. I miss her every day.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

I have a fun blog for children called Topsy Turvy Land named after my first book ( with coloring pages, hidden picture puzzles, and lots of fun things to do.

I also run a fan page on Facebook at where I post information, writing tips, links to freebies, and updates about my books for both children and grownups.

Thanks, Penny, for taking the time to interview me about “Ava’s Secret Tea Party.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jane Lebak, The Boys Upstairs

AUTHOR: Jane Lebak
BOOK TITLE: The Boys Upstairs
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing

Tell me a little about your book.

Kevin is a jaded cop who picks up three homeless siblings a couple of nights before Christmas. Because they keep running away from foster homes in order to stay together, Kevin brings them to his brother's church in the hopes that they can protect the kids and keep them together. The problem? Kevin hasn't spoken to his brother Jay for years because after all the evil he's seen, Kevin can't believe in God, and he feels that as a priest, Jay is wasting his life. But they're going to have to work together in order to save the kids.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?

This story went through several incarnations, but it started early one morning when I awoke with the idea of a man who had to give up being a soldier after sustaining career-ending injuries in a war.  Like Ignatius Loyola, the soldier comes to believe in God during his recovery and eventually becomes a priest. But in this man's case, his family didn't accept his change, and that's where I found the story's hook: at the intersection between his connection to the past and his decisions about his future.

The first versions of the story didn't involve homeless kids, as you can see. The climax of the original story involved a group that brought violence into the church during the Mass, and how the priest reacted as an ex-soldier.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.

Ironically, the story's true genesis seems to be in my own feelings about motherhood. I had come to feel as if motherhood and writing were mutually exclusive, and that after an early writing career, I wouldn't be able to write again after I had a second baby. My first baby had been very high-needs and I hadn't written much after his birth. At the time the story came to me, we were deciding to have a second baby, and I unconsciously felt this was the end of any chance I would write again. I didn't realize this though until I finished the first version of the story and realized it was about how someone says goodbye to his old dreams in order to embrace new ones.

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas or winter theme?

Priesthood and Catholicism mesh perfectly with Christmas, and since so much of the American understanding of Christmas is about family and children, the themes all worked well together. The three children at the story's heart have no hope of a "traditional" Christmas with toys and a feast. Instead, they're lucky to be alive and they wish they had a family. But there are moments where that desire to be "normal" breaks through, such as when the children want to watch at least one Christmas special.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?

The marketing seems to be cyclic. You can market it for about three months, and then you go back to marketing your other material.

How long before December did you submit to your publisher?

I submitted it in May and it was published by Thanksgiving.

How and why did you choose this publisher?

MIU was just starting up, and I knew about Lea from the Muse Online Writer's Conference. I figured it was worth taking a risk on a new publisher to be one of its first released titles.

What about your book makes it special?

My favorite review of The Boys Upstairs comes with the disclaimer that the reviewer is an atheist and hates preachy stories, and she gave it five stars because the story unfolds without preaching. I've been preached at so much by people who are trying to make me a better Christian or a better American or a better whatever, and I can't stand that attitude. Someone isn't a moral authority just because they wrote a book. Instead I tried to let the characters speak for themselves, so when Jay is relating his conversion experience, Jay is relating what happened to Jay. But when Kevin is relating his disillusionment with any idea of the existence of God, let alone a personal God who cares about people, Kevin is relating his own experiences. The reader will have his or her own experiences, and I want them to be able to relate to all the different characters and their opinions without feeling cornered.

What does Christmas and/or winter mean to you?

Right now, personally, I'm disillusioned with Christmas because it's expanded to fill up so much of the year, and the materialism leaves me a little sick inside. With so much poverty and pain in the world, the way the advertising caters to our most base instincts leaves me hurting for the people who don't have anything. You can't "give your kids the perfect Christmas" if you aren't able to keep the heat on, or if you're barely making enough to feed everyone.

What is your favorite Christmas or winter memory?

The first year I was in choir, I remember walking home from the train station and looking up to see snow starting to fall; the scent of the air just as it turned to snow, and the bright chill, they were just perfect. It was only a few seconds, and I remember thinking that this moment was like the heart of the Christmas music we were singing.

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?

Every year, I write a letter to my guardian angel, and I put it in my own stocking.

What was your favorite Christmas present?

I like getting a goat from Heifer International. Another sweater wouldn't really be that important to me, but a goat could turn around the life of an impoverished family.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?


This is from the beginning of Chapter Three, after Father Jay’s estranged brother has brought three homeless children to the rectory to keep them safe. Jay is a disabled priest, but as it turns out, he wasn’t always all that spiritually-minded. This is the segment that popped into my head when I woke up one morning, and it replayed in my head with such intensity that I began writing the story before breakfast.
                  It didn’t take Divine Providence to alert Jay when the trio of newcomers tried to escape. The old rectory creaked with as many different tones as a symphony orchestra, and having been an escape artist himself as a teen, Jay knew what to expect.
                  And so it was that when Louis, Maria and Jamie got to the front door, one stuffed-full pillowcase in Maria’s arms and Jamie in Louis’s, Jay met them there.
                  “It’s really too cold to leave in the middle of the night.” He gestured toward the parlor as the three children clustered together before him. “I’d never hurt you, and I know I can’t keep you if you’re determined to go. But if you have to leave, you might as well leave in the morning.”
                  The kids shuffled into the parlor alongside the front entrance, and Jay turned on the lights so they could make their way onto the couch. He sat in a chair across the room.
                  “Why are you leaving?” They stared at him with three sullen pouts. Jay said, “I’m not a foster home here. The boys who live upstairs moved in because it was a warm place to stay. Most of them ran away from home too, or were thrown out.” He waited. “Where are you from?”
                  Louis told him, and Jay recognized the neighborhood, a twenty-minute drive from here. He asked if they had any family. They all looked at one another, and then Louis said no, they didn’t.
                  Ah: so they did have family, but no one to take them in.
                  He asked if they went to school. Louis said sometimes. He asked if they liked school, and it turned out they did, kind-of.
                  Through all this, the kids looked at one another before answering, and Jamie never said anything at all. The youngest, he dozed against Louis’s shoulder.
                  Maria looked right at him, frowning. “We don’t want a new dad.”
                  Jay raised his hands. “I’m not anyone’s dad. In the Church, priests are called Father, but I’m not anyone’s father.”
                  There was a moment of quiet before Louis said, “And no new mom, either.”
                  He nodded.
                  Maria said, “Why are you doing this, then? Is it for the money?”
                  Dear God, why did little ones have to get so cynical? He assured them that he received no money for having them in the house, nor did he want any.
                  “But you’re crippled,” Louis said “So how are you getting money?”
                  Cynical and no punches pulled; an excellent combination for life on the street. “I’m a priest. The diocese pays me, and I work for them.”
                  Maria said, “But if we run, you can’t catch us.”
                  He shook his head.
                  “How’d you get hurt?” Louis said.
                  “I used to be a soldier. I was in Iraq, and I got hurt there.”
                  Louis sat forward. “A real soldier? Like you carried a gun and wore a uniform? Like GI Joe?”
                  Jay nodded. “Except I didn’t have all that cool gear and neat code names like they do.”
                  Louis said, “And did the enemy shoot you?”
                  Jay hesitated.
                  Ten years ago, a shattered army platoon had returned to base in a wrecked jeep with four of its soldiers barely alive. They’d driven over a land mine. A medical team had begun treatment the moment they’d stopped the vehicle, and shortly the wounded were transported to a combat support hospital. Within the hour the doctors passed the word back to their commanding officer that one had already died and the rest wouldn’t survive the night.
                  The other three died before sunrise. Only Jay had survived.
                  “Did it hurt?” Maria said.
                  Louis shoved her. “Of course it hurt, idiot! He got shot bad enough to cripple him!”
                  Opting against explaining about ballistics, explosives and the more graphic parts of war, Jay said, “I was unconscious for a week, actually, so it didn’t hurt at first. Later on, yeah.”
                  He’d been airlifted to Germany, where he stayed in a coma seven days. At every turn, the doctors had said, “We can try this procedure, but he most likely won’t survive it,” and then they’d tried, and every time, somehow, he’d survived.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Romy Gemmell, Midwinter Masquerade, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR:  Romy Gemmell
BOOK TITLE:  Midwinter Masquerade
PUBLISHER:  Tirgearr Publishing
WHAT IS IT? One free download of Midwinter Masquerade
HOW DO YOU WANT THE WINNER TO BE CHOSEN? Ms. Gemmell will choose a random winner from commenters.
WHO WILL DELIVER THE PRIZE TO WINNER? Ms. Gemmell will, if you have left your email address.

Tell me a little about your book.
In Edinburgh, December 1816, young widow Lady Lenora Fitzallan accepts an invitation to the country estate of Edward Montgomery, the man she once thought to marry seventeen years previously. Accompanied by her godmother, Lady Pettigrew, Lenora forms a friendship with Edward’s young niece and ward, Annabelle, who has a propensity for getting into scrapes and falling in love with the wrong man.

In the days leading up to the Masquerade Ball on the Winter Solstice, unexpected guests arrive and family secrets are revealed. Once the past is revealed and the real villain unmasked, Lenora must decide where and with whom her future now lies.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I’ve always loved autumn and winter, as well as the idea of a masked ball. One of my favourite periods is the Regency era and I’m very interested in women’s position in history. As a change, I was keen to explore a romance with two different age groups: young widow, Lady Lenora, and seventeen year old Annabelle, both of whom have to make life choices. I also wanted this story to be set in my own Scotland.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
I particularly liked the idea that 1816 was the ‘year without a summer’, evidently because of volcanic eruption in a remote part of the world the year before, and it fitted well with the theme of the novel. It is also the year after the Battle of Waterloo where Wellington finally vanquished Napoleon after years of war between Britain and France. I’ve fleetingly mentioned the hardships many of the soldiers faced in being out of work and the increasing problems caused by shortage of food, rising prices and the corn laws.

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas or winter theme?
It’s such a magical time of year that I wanted to enjoy writing some of the elements that make up winter in the countryside, such as the frost and ice skating on a frozen loch. Rather than being about Christmas, I set it at the Winter Solstice, a fascinating time of year when the sun changes direction, another theme that fits with my characters direction in life. The story ends the day after the masquerade ball, a few days before Christmas.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?
I think the book has to be published early enough to catch readers starting to think about seasonal stories some time before December arrives. It’s a fairly short season so we have to make the most of all opportunities over a couple of months.

How long before December did you submit to your publisher?
About six to seven months. That allowed a wait for acceptance and the subsequent editing process. Then the cover artist took up the final month before publication toward the end of October.

How and why did you choose this publisher?
Tirgearr is a small Irish independent company who published my contemporary novella, The Aphrodite Touch, in May this year, which is the first in my new Aphrodite and Adonis series set on Cyprus. I was so pleased with the whole experience that I had no hesitation in submitting Midwinter Masquerade to them. They are expanding in the New Year and I have full confidence in the exciting way the publisher is moving forward.

What about your book makes it special?
I think it is that inter setting in the Scottish countryside that makes it a little bit different from other Regency era romances. It still has the balls, the clothes, the dashing men, romance and intrigue, but it’s also very much about the characters’ choices and decisions and how the past can affect their present lives. One of Shakespeare’s sonnets is also significant for my heroine Lenora and the hero, Edward, so I’ve used some quotes from that at relevant parts of the story.

What does Christmas and/or winter mean to you?
I do still think Christmas is a magical time of year and I love the joy and kindness more evident among families and strangers alike. Since winter is one of my favourite seasons, it wouldn’t seem the same if I lived on the other side of the world and it was warm instead of cold! One of the joys is the darkness falling in late afternoon, drawing the curtains closed and being cosy within doors. I even enjoy the snow and frost.

What is your favorite Christmas or winter memory?
One I can still recall with great pleasure is the year I received a pair of dark red lacing boots as a Christmas gift before my teen years.  Fortunately, it snowed that year and I couldn’t wait to get outside and try my new boots. Funnily enough, my favourite type of boots is still the kind with a small heel and lacing up the front – maybe I’ve always had a hankering after Victorian style footwear. Another favourite memory is sledging on the snowy hillside wrapped up in hats and scarves!

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?
Always the chocolate foil-wrapped coins, apple and tangerine at the foot of the stocking. Everything else was a delightful surprise each year.

What was your favorite Christmas present?
Apart from the aforementioned boots, it was a huge Pollyanna doll that was nearly the same height as me at the time. I’d seen the film that year and was overjoyed to find such a real-looking doll waiting for me on Christmas morning. She’s been passed around many a niece since, as well as my own daughter, and eventually had a makeover and new hair attached at the doll’s hospital!

Where can people learn more about you and your work?
From my website:
Twitter: @rosemarygemmell
Facebook and Pinterest

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Katy Regnery, By Proxy and “The Christmas Wish”

AUTHOR:  Katy Regnery
BOOK TITLE:  By Proxy and “The Christmas Wish”
PUBLISHER:  Boroughs Publishing Group

Tell me a little about your full-length novel, By Proxy.

A little-known legal loophole in Montana allows a couple – mostly deployed servicemen and women -  to be married via double proxy if they are unable to appear in person to take their own vows.  When Jenny, a small-town Montana schoolteacher, agrees to take vows on behalf of the bride, she doesn’t count on Sam -- a slick, citified Chicagoan, stepping in on behalf of the groom -- dismantling her carefully ordered world in the space of a long weekend. Sam finds Jenny’s unaffected wholesomeness refreshing after years of cynical superficiality in the big city, and their easy banter and frank attraction fill Jenny’s sheltered heart with a longing she has never known.   But even if a city slicker and a country mouse find love, will distance and differences prove to be their undoing?  Set against the majestic landscape of southern Montana and Yellowstone National Park, the reader 
can’t help but root for Jenny and Sam to make their whirlwind Christmas romance work!

What gave you the idea for this particular story?

When I originally sat down to write By Proxy, it was specifically for a 4000-word Writer’s Digest contest. I had stumbled across the obscure Montana law that allowed for double proxy marriage and I knew it would be a fun hook for a short story. But as Jenny Lindstrom and Sam Kelley came into focus, I realized that their story wasn’t going to fit into 4000 words. It simply wasn’t enough to tell their story. I’d barely gotten to know them, but I knew they had a lot more to say. So I kept writing, and a few days turned into a week, turned into a month, then two. And by the end I had a 70,000 word story that still used double proxy marriage for its hook, but told the story of two unlikely people who meet at Christmastime and end up falling in love.

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas or winter theme?

We take Christmas very seriously in my family! We decorate the day after Thanksgiving and this is an all-weekend, Christmas tree farm, boxes coming down from the attic, special recipe sort of decorating event. And throughout the Christmas season we are fully immersed at all times – listening to Christmas music, heading into New York City for shows, entertaining friends and family.  So, I am not short on Christmas cheer or vibrant Christmas memories. It felt really organic to write a couple of Christmas stories.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?

I think you have a very short window to get your story into the hands of readers. By Proxy was published on September 24th and “The Christmas Wish” was published on October 28th. I was able to do a lot of promotion in October and November, but I did get some push-back about “rushing the season.” But I know these books will not be as popular anymore come January, so I really wanted to maximize my potential window.

How long before December did you submit to your publisher?

I submitted By Proxy to Boroughs last December 2012 and they offered me a contract in March 2013. In September 2013 they asked for a Christmas novella to accompany By Proxy, so I hunkered down and wrote “The Christmas Wish” in three days.

How and why did you choose this publisher?

I was really impressed with the talent at Boroughs. Chris Keeslar was practically a legend at Dorchester and Jill Limber was the 2005 president of the RWA. When you combine Chris’s New York credentials with Jill’s RWA experience you have an absolutely amazing team. I have never regretted my decision to publish with Boroughs – in fact, I am thankful for that decision every day. I adore working with Chris and Jill.

What was your favorite Christmas present or stocking stuffer?

Last year my favorite stocking stuffer was also my favorite Christmas present! My husband surprised me with a new iPhone 5G and I burst into tears, I was so excited. Some women want jewelry and furs, but give me technology any day. That phone allows me to keep my social media presence strong no matter where I go. I love it.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Speaking of social media, I can be found daily on Twitter (@KatyRegnery) or on Facebook ( I blog twice a week on my website (  which lists all of my books and has links to my Newsletter and Street Team.

Thank you so much for letting me stop by, Penny! I’ve enjoyed chatting with you today!!

KATY REGNERY, winner of the 2013 NECRWA First Kiss and 2013 Maine RWA Everything But the Kitchen Sink contests, has always loved telling a good story and credits her mother with making funny, heartwarming tales come alive throughout her childhood. A lifelong devotee of all romance writing from Edwardian to present-day, it was just a matter of time before Katy tried her hand at writing a love story of her own.

As it turned out, one love story turned into a series of six Heart of Montana romances, following the love lives of the Yellowstone-based Lindstrom siblings. In addition to small-town contemporary romance, Katy is presently writing a paranormal romance that takes place in northern New England and the forests north of Quebec.

Speaking of forests, Katy lives in the relative-wilds of northern Fairfield County, Connecticut where her writing room looks out at the woods and her husband, two young children and two dogs create just enough cheerful chaos to remind her that the very best love stories of all are the messy and unexpected ones.