Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Very Merry Christmas to all!

And best wishes for a happy, peaceful and successful 2012. I'll see you in the New Year!

Jane x

Friday, 23 December 2011

The One-Link Lowdown on...Lindsay Townsend!

There are two things I've loved doing these One-Link Lowdown interviews - making new friends and celebrating old one. Lindsay Townsend falls into the second category. As well as being a great friend, she's a terrific writer and a great inspiration to me. This year has been wildly productive for her - as well as her latest release, A Christmas Sleeping Beauty
,she's also released and re-released a huge number of other works, both contemporary and historical, including romances The Snow Bride - releasing in just a few days' time - and the medieval tale from Kensington Zebra, To Touch The Knight. So no more delay - it's time to hear from the lady herself. Take it away, Lindsay!

What would be your perfect day?
The day when the film rights for ‘To Touch The Knight’ are sold to Ridley Scott and my husband and I celebrate by jetting to Venice for a week.

Wouldn't that be fab? Fingers crossed! Okay, onto more everyday matters for now - what’s on your bedside table/nightstand?
A small lamp, glass of water, pills, books.

What’s your favourite piece of music?
I love music and couldn’t possibly choose a favourite piece! It depends on my mood.

I also happen to know you're an opera fan too, Lindsay - like me! Which household chore would you happily give up for ever?
Tidying up – I’m rather a hoarder.

What’s your favourite fruit, and what's the best way to eat it?
I love ripe, fresh nectarines that I can really sink my teeth into. I like to eat them in the bath!

The things people do in the bath...! So, tell me - what’s the best review you've ever had?
A Five Red Roses review at Red Roses for Authors for To Touch The Knight. 'The time of the Black Death was terrible for people in England and Europe. Townsend treats this period with honesty and sympathy. Parts of the book are perhaps dark because of the period but there is also a great deal of humour, fun and sensuality in this book, which should delight Townsend’s fans. I found it a thoroughly enjoyable read and the equal of her earlier knight books. This author is one to be followed as she carves a prominent place for herself on the historical list. If you enjoy medieval you must read this, because it is one of the best.'

What's your guilty pleasure?
Eating chocolate.

I'd go along with that one! If you'd like to know more about Lindsay and her enormous range of books and short stories, do pop along and visit her website here. Thanks for being my guest, Lindsay. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Edinburgh Fog's Greg Morton is interviewed today!

Can you believe it? Neither can Greg! But there's a fabulous interview with him over at the Ravencraft’s Romance Realm blog today. Pop over and say hi, but watch out, too - he's got mistletoe!

Friday, 16 December 2011

The One-Link Lowdown on...L K Hunsaker!

My guest today is writer L K Hunsaker. A passionate champion of independent authors, L K writes 'literary fiction with an artsy twist,' and as her own blog by-line rightly proclaims, 'not all romance is graphic - not all literary fiction is stuffy.'

Having read some of her work, I can tell you that's true. It's deep and emotional, hugely perceptive and wonderfully descriptive, and sticks in your mind long after you've read it.

Her latest work is Moondrops & Thistles, a 'short & spicy edition' military romance. I urge you to seek out her work - it's so wide-ranging and varied, I'm certain you'd find something wonderful that speaks to your heart. Please join me in welcoming her to my blog, and enjoy one of the most candid and thoughtful interviews it's been my pleasure to host this year. Welcome, L K!

If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

I was an odd child. One of my most prized possessions was a big plastic file tub where I kept postcards, letters, magazine clippings, recipes, statements from my starter bank account, that sort of thing. It disappeared somewhere along the line. Those things don’t matter, other than the postcard from my first crush before he also disappeared somewhere. ;-) But it contained much of my first writing: some bad poetry, various story ideas, and the first scenes I ever wrote for my Rehearsal series, plus a little story I called “Hollywood Heroes” that I liked a lot. There wasn’t much to it yet, but it still crosses my mind at times as a comedy with some potential. I would love to have those back.

What would be your perfect day?

Waking up in a beach cottage to a cool ocean breeze coming through the window, having a leisurely light breakfast I don’t have to make or clean up from, writing for a couple of hours while sitting on the porch that overlooks the ocean, going for a swim in a pool by myself and swimming laps until my muscles say it’s enough, resting under the sun until dry, a change of clothes, a quick lunch, and then back to writing. By dinner time, I’d be ready to join my family for a leisurely meal full of lightly cooked veggies to listen to their day’s excursions. As they settle in for the evening, I’d take a good book back to the porch and read until dark, write a bit longer, then sink in to a plush pillow with the ocean breeze lulling me to sleep. I haven’t tried this yet, but it sure sounds good!

I so agree. Falling asleep to the sound of the sea is wonderful. As you drifted off, what would we find on your bedstand?

A lamp, the book I’m currently reading at night and maybe one or two that are waiting, pens, notepad, pencil, sticky notes for marking passages in the books I want to find again, dust (what can I say?), reading glasses, the cordless phone, a radio alarm clock, a tissue box, scented pillow spray (aromatherapy for relaxation), and the one thing that has been beside my bed ever since I got it: a little white Bible that was a treasured gift during my teen years with some of my favorite passages marked in the back.

L K< I know you're a huge music lover, and musicians and their work have featured in your books before. Can you tell us what’s your favourite piece of music?

Oh, I’m fully music obsessed and I like a lot of genres, so it’s impossible to name one favorite. I can say right now I’m quite into David Garrett’s rock violin CDs and am anxiously awaiting his next. It’s great for writing because it’s inspiring and uplifting and has no lyrics. It’s also nice for cleaning music because it’s relaxing and lets my thoughts wander as I work. At times, I simply sit and listen to it, focusing on every nuance I can pick up. On the other hand, I’m anxiously awaiting Sawyer Brown’s newest as well as Nickelback’s newest.

I envy you being able to write with music playing - I can't do that, but I do use music as fodder and inspiration for writing, so I'm right with you there. Well, let's move to less arty matters for a moment! Which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

Putting clothes away! I don’t know what it is about putting clothes into drawers or hanging them up that I detest, but I detest it. I’d rather clean the toilet, actually.

Aside from clothes chores, what else drives you seriously nuts?

When people listen to rhetoric without doing the research themselves. It’s so easy to manipulate words and ‘facts’ that everything most people ‘know’ is what they hear at the end of the telephone chain – you know, that game where a line of people whispers a phrase one by one to each other and it comes out completely different than the way it started? That’s what we’re taking as truth, and it’s sad. It drives me seriously nuts.

What’s the best review you've ever had?

I’ve been fortunate with reviews and although I don’t have a lot of them, they are all very nice (other than the 1 star for a free read short story because it was too short!), but the two that stand out are actually personal emails about two different books. A few years ago and again very recently, I was told that my book meant so much to someone that it was on their bedstand at the end of their fight with a long illness, and it meant a lot to their families that it meant so much to their lost loved ones. I can’t imagine anything better than that as an author, to know you touched someone who needed to be touched during a very difficult time.

Neither can I - how wonderful. L K, what's your guilty pleasure?

Dancing With The Stars. Although I don’t like reality shows in general and rarely spend time watching TV at all, I’m hooked to the show. I get tired of the drama and iffy voting/scoring, but I love watching the pro dancers. Also, I took dance for many years as a child/teen and it gets me how fast the non-dancers learn the complicated ballroom steps. I can’t imagine having the energy to practice so many hours in a day for so many days at a time and I can’t help a grudging respect that they do it while I’m sitting on my tail just watching. But mainly, I love the pro dancers. Maks, especially. Wow is he incredible to watch! My husband knows and even calls him “your guy,” so it’s all okay. Now if they’d get a novelist or two on there to help promote books!

I should have asked you for a list of novelists you'd like to see there! Knowing you as I do as someone who thinks deeply about things, let me ask you this - if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Okay, do I admit this or not? I have talked about it to an extent, but although I’m fairly comfortable with myself in general, I do have one thing I would truly, truly love to change. I’m social phobic. I get nervous talking with friends in person or on the phone, and strangers are harder. Casual acquaintances are the hardest. Heck, I get nervous typing to people online if it has any kind of little confrontation involved. My hands shake. My heart races. If I speak to a small group in person, I can feel my face get hot and I know it has to be red. The room gets fuzzy and it’s all I can do to concentrate on forming a complete sentence while I feel suddenly disassociated from where I am and from my bearings, as though I’m in a swirling tunnel sweeping me away. I hate how hard it makes everything that “normal” people do on a daily basis without any thought, such as grocery shopping or sitting at a football game. I hate that it makes me look like a snob in public. I’m not. It’s just honestly that hard to talk to people. But ... I’m working on it, and it is better than it was. I still don’t accept talks when someone asks me to do one for my books, but I do signings and they are easier than they used to be. I often end up with a migraine the day after a signing from the incredible stress, but I keep going out there hoping it will change, fighting for it to dissipate. In the meantime, most of my book promo is online and I’m thankful for the many opportunities to interact without being face-to-face.

What single invention would change your life for the better?

The transporter from Star Trek. My family and friends are scattered in different states and countries, and it would be incredible to pop in on them now and then. I also love to travel but I don’t like car trips and I hate to pack! I love where I live now, except for being away from everyone, so if I could go visit for a day or go sight-seeing anywhere in the world for a day and then return to sleep in my own bed at night, that would solve one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with ever since I left my family homestead. At least we now have the internet!

L K, thank you for being here - I've loved doing this interview with you very much! Which One-Link would you like to leave for everyone today?

Thanks for having me, Jane! I’m leaving you with the link to my Facebook author page, where I post my events and projects and enjoy ‘talking’ with readers.

And I know they'd enjoy talking with you as much as I do. Thanks again, L K - good luck with all your future projects.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Wish I Was Here....?

Writer Janice Horton has asked a bunch of her on-line writing friends to think about that today - where in the world would you like to be, right now?

Okay, I know - everyone who knows me will say I'd want to be in Italy. It's my favourite country. Well, wouldn't you, when you see things like this ancient stone wall on what is a fairly ordinary house in the beautiful Umbrian hilltop town od Assisi? I'd live there tomorrow! And check out the stunning view below from my friends' garden, and imagine waking up to that every morning. Wonderful!

It's my ambition to visit Italy at as many different times of the year as I can, and I've already managed it for late November/early December. That's the time of the olive harvest - it can be bitterly cold, but the work of raking the olives from the branches and collecting them up in the nets draped around the bases of the trees will soon warm you up.

In the rural areas like Umbria, where I've visited many times, most of the houses will have olives trees somewhere on their property. Some have many, and will bottle litre after litre of oil to see them through the year, while those with just a few trees might band together with neighbours and combine their olives together, and everyone gets a fair and useful share of the harvest. The year we helped friends with their harvest, we were treated to a visit to the local olive mill - the frant'olio - later that day. Forget dreams of stone buildings and ancient wheels - these days it's mostly a modern, highly efficient operation, all stainless steel and geared up for maximum oil extraction and maximum profit, but the magic is still there.

Inside the frant'olio, the scent of oil hangs so heavy on the air you could almost grab it in both hands. It impregnates the fibres of your clothing so much, you'll smell it for days. The expression of quiet satisfaction on the faces of the Umbrian olive farmers, young and old alike, must be the same expression seen over many centuries as the first oil, the extra virgine, drips from the press. In the old days it would have gone into a large glass fiasco, but now, again, shiny, hygienic stainless steel is the norm - but no less wonderful for that.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the rest of the olive after they've extracted every last drop of precious oil? The skins and stones are pressed together and used as fertiliser for the land. Nature in full circle, and the circle complete. I love that.

Ahh....I'm waxing romantic about one of my favourite places! Well, Janice did ask...though the truth is, if I can't be in Italy - and I can't, this year! - I would be just as happy here, at home, with my husband and children around me. Home truly is where the heart is, as far as I'm concerned!

Of course, there's more to 'Wish I Was Here' than just me banging on about Italy! It's a chance to share the HUGE fun today as Janice releases her new book, Reaching For the Stars. I'm really happy to showcase a fellow Scotswoman's work - what's more, it combines two more of my great loves, Scotland and food!

In Reaching For The Stars, Chef Finn McDuff feels he's had enough of all the food campaigns, the TV cookery shows, the constant frenzy surrounding his private life and disappears into a self-imposed exile for a while. No wonder Janice has picked as her launch day theme, 'Wish I Was Here'.....!

I love the pun in her title, too, with a chef reaching for Michelin stars as well as - well, you're going to have to read the book to find out what else Finn is reaching for, and where it takes him. You're guaranteed a great read!

Reaching For The Stars is out now on Kindle UK and Kindle US.

To find out more about Janice Horton and her work, do take a moment to visit her blog and website here. Good luck, Janice - happy release day!

(PS - If I've given you the urge to visit Italy and its gorgeous 'green heart,' Umbria, I highly recommend you check out this place to stay, the beautiful Casa Delle Rose.)

Friday, 9 December 2011

The One-Link Lowdown on.....Celia Yeary

My guest today is writer Celia Yeary. Texas born and bred and proud of it, Celia is one of the loveliest people I know. Her own blog is like a favourite magazine you look forward to reading, with its mix of fun topics and thought-provoking articles about the world and its ways, as well as her thoughts on writing. I guarantee you're going to love this lady as much as I do - so read on!

Welcome, Celia! Okay, let's get right to it with my first question - what’s the naughtiest thing you've ever done?

Who will read this? If anyone I know in person reads this, then I will declare this document was hacked. Okay. I went topless on a small island just off the coast of Texas, close to Corpus Christi, around age 40. My girlfriend and I went by ferry boat over there with two other women friends to spend the afternoon looking for shells. The two of us were separated from the other two, and we decided this would be a good time to get a tan all the way to our waist. So, we did. The island was about the size of two city blocks, covered in sand dunes higher than our heads, and we knew no one else was over there. So, there. How many of you have done this and kept it secret?

Celia! I'd never have thought that of you - hang on, wait a minute - maybe not! Okay, I know the answer to this next question because you've told me about this before, but for the benefit of your new friends reading today - what’s the best job you've ever had?

I know you'll think I'm crazy, but the best job I ever had was teaching teenagers. Yep. That age that drives parents crazy much of the time. But I liked them, found them endlessly entertaining and inventive. I once said that my students were the most interesting people I knew. At times, I would gladly strangle a few, but sixteen-year-old kids wake up in a new world each day - their memory is short - and as a rule, they don't hold grudges.

Tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib!

1. I was Homecoming Queen my senior year.
2. I am an honorary colonel in the U.S. Army.
3. As a teacher, I won a Spelling Bee in which all the teachers were the contestants - for the students' entertainment.

What’s on your bedside table/nightstand?

I'm answering this one because I don't have to think! My Kindle, a lamp, a vase of artificial purple flowers, a lace runner, and a framed photo of me and our first grandson when he was four months old. Oh, and a 3x5 card with a list of TV channels, a remote control, a flashlight, and a clock radio....a lot of dust.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

Hmmm, I cannot say. I do love Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake Ballet music, especially the dramatic theme song. And just as equally, I love Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton and Waylon Jennings. As far apart as you can get, but good music is good music! Oh, and Georgia by Ray Charles. That's three - sorry.

What your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

This is so easy. Sliced ham, Pepper Jack Cheese, lettuce, red onion, spicy Dijon mustard, all on a croissant, with a glass of red wine, sitting in my recliner with my feet up, watching Megan on Fox News at noon. I'm a news junkie.

Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

Kevin Costner, LaVyrle Spencer, Gary Cooper, Taylor Swift, Daniel-Day Lewis, Robert Duval, and Princess Kate.

What drives you seriously nuts?

For the contestants on Wheel of Fortune - okay, now you know how old I am - to say, "I am married to my husband," or the other way, "I am married to my wife." Really, now. Isn't this redundant and stupid? I have emailed Pat Sajak and Vanna White more than once to explain this faux pas and no one pays any attention. I correct them every time - under my breath - because my husband is tired of hearing me do this.

What’s the best review you've ever had?

My husband reads all my books and tells me how much he likes them. But not long ago, he wrote how he felt, and since it is so sweet and personal, I can't quote it verbatim. But he said that "when he looked at me sometimes, he wondered, do I really know this woman? She writes with such clarity, and emotion, and vividness that it makes me realize she has a depth and talent that I never imagined. How have I missed this?" He said much more, but that's enough for you to know how special this "review" is. It made me cry. He's my biggest and most loyal fan.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Just one? When there are so many? Okay, I would make myself Sophisticated. To be a Sophisticate does not include how one dresses, but how one speaks and acts toward others. But I'm a Texas girl, and while I am educated, I still have those countrified ways. I am simple and artless, and even though I've travelled all over Europe four times, and the Scandinavian countries, and other places, that does not mean I am worldly and urbane. I still see the world through rose-colored glasses. Not a speck of Sophistication in my entire being. I know a few women I consider Sophisticated, and trust me...I feel like I just walked out of the cornfield when I'm around them. So, I continue to say, "Well, bless your heart," and address people as "Sugar" or "Sweetheart", and cross my legs and swing one foot. Drats.

There you are - now you see why I think Celia is one of the sweetest, kindest, thoughtful and most inspiring people I know. Her latest publication is The Stars at Night a contemporary love story - set in Texas, of course - and you can find out more about it, read some reviews and enjoy an excerpt - as well as reading more about Celia herself - here at Desert Breeze Publishing.

And last but not least, can you believe Celia's fib was No. 1 - she wasn't Homecoming Queen in her senior year. Ah, well - you're still a princess to me, dear chum! Good luck with The Stars at Night, and with all your future projects.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The One-Link Lowdown on...Starla Kaye.

My guest today is writer Starla Kaye. A woman who has travelled the world, she says that 'all of my many adventures and observations of people and places help my writer’s imagination. I’m filled with ‘what ifs’ and ideas for yet more characters.' Read on to find out more about this writer with 19 novels, 22 novellas and 5 anthologies to her name. Welcome, Starla!

If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

I want the small Coke bottle back that came with the Coca Cola Santa I got when they first came out a gazillion years ago. I know it is a stupid thing, but I still would like to have it. My sister and I go antiquing a lot and I’m always looking for one. I’ve seen Santas like mine, in near perfect condition and with their attached Coke bottle. But I don’t want a new one…just the bottle. MY Santa is well-worn and had been well loved during his early years.

What would be your perfect day?

My perfect day would be 48 hours long so I could manage to accomplish everything on my TO DO list. I would have time to sit outside in the early morning and watch the sunrise while eating a blueberry muffin and drinking coffee. After that I would whip through answering emails, checking Facebook, and Tweeting…instead of spending half a morning like I normally do on those things. Then I could actually spend several focused hours writing on whatever current project, followed by meeting my sister for lunch and catching up on our lives. Or I could blink myself to California and have lunch with my daughter (my best buddy). Refreshed now, I would return to my writing until my husband came home. Then we’d take a walk around our housing area or go to the Botanical Gardens and walk and talk. Okay, now I’m getting tired. Guess 48 hours would be too much to handle. I’ll just stick with 24 and not getting everything done, continue shoving some of those To Dos on to the next day.

What’s on your bedside table/nightstand?

My nightstand is in a constant state of chaos with a stack of paperbacks, my Nook, my Kindle (yes, I have both and I know that’s crazy), my iPad, a small notepad (that I never can seem to locate when I want to write something down), a pen (that never seems to work), a highlighter (who knows why), two pairs of glasses (neither pair really right). Need I go on….

Which household chore would you happily give up forever?

I would happily give up forever almost any kind of housecleaning chores. Except then I wouldn’t have those to fall back on when I’m stuck for the moment on some writing project…or avoiding a deadline. Those are the times when my house can get an emergency cleaning job.

What drives you seriously nuts?

People anywhere who complain that there is nothing to do drive me nuts. Really? Look around you. I’ve lived in large cities (Seattle, Denver), medium cities (Wichita, Alamagordo NM), and blink-quick-size towns (Strong City KS). There is always something to do, people to meet, things to experience. You just can’t go around wearing blinders.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

I love to travel and it is so hard to pinpoint just one place that I would like to go. But my long-time favourite place is the UK, especially Scotland. I’ve been there, but didn’t get to spend nearly as much time there as I wanted to.

What's your guilty pleasure?

Just ONE guilty pleasure? How about I combine some of them into one giant guilty pleasure...I love taking my Kindle with me to a chaise lounge chair around a resort pool in Kauai, having a Funky Monkey to drink, some chocolate to nibble on, and sneaking peeks at the hunky studs deliciously on display in the area. (Can you guess that I took such a vacation in late September?)

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I could stay focused better. My problem is that everything interests me and I want to try many more things than I should. Along with this I have a serious problem with saying NO. If someone needs my help, I’m there...even if I already have commitments that I should be working on. If an opportunity to travel comes up out of the blue, my bag is packed within in seconds.

What single invention would change your life for the better?

I would dearly like to have a universal charger cord to work on all of my various electronics: iPhone, iPad, Kindle, and Nook. I travel a lot and having to tote a bag of various cords is a real hassle. Why can’t these companies play well with each other and give their customers a real treat?

Aside from writing achievements, family, etc - what are you most proud of?

I’m proud that I had the determination to stick to my goal of getting my college degree. It took me 4 decades (1969-1996), of which my husband loves to tease me about. But it was HIS fault, because we moved so much for his career. I did it, though! I’m a gerontologist (I work with senior adults) by degree now…although I only volunteer in the field.

Starla's latest release is Maggie’s Secret Wish, a contemporary erotic romance. Find out more and buy it HERE from Decadent Publishing.

Thanks for being my guest, Starla. I so agree with you about people who complain 'there's nothing to do.' There's always something and somewhere to explore! Congratulations on all your achievements so far, and lots of luck with all your future projects!