Thursday, 30 May 2013

Charlene Raddon: The Scent of Roses

We're always pleased to welcome back Charlene to Heart of Fiction. Today we have a treat for our readers. As Charlene has already given us reviews in the past, she has graciously given us an article revolving around a sub-theme in her newly released book, The Scent of Roses -- The Mormon Church and Polygamy.

This article comes at an apt time, for me that is, as I've been watching the PBS 1996 mini-series, The West, and they've just aired the episode about the founding of the Mormon church and 'plural wives.' All interesting stuff, to be sure.

 You may be scratching your head, wondering how polygamy fits into a romance. I can assure you the main story is strictly between Whip and Rosalyn. As a historical, Charlene takes us back in time to when the Mormon church was founded. This was a tumultuous and, dare I say opportunistic, time in American history and the founding of the American West. This topic may seem unusual to include into a romance story, but I can assure you, as with all other sensitive topics Charlene has written about in her romances, The Scent of Roses deals with the subject of polygamy in thoughtful and factual manner. The back story in this book takes the reader into the mid 19th century, to a time when the American west was reaching a pinnacle, when religious freedoms were being expanded, and setting a tone for future generations.

Of course, at it's heart, The Scent of Roses is a rich and lively romance that many twists and turns, including a haunted house with a charming ghost. Dastardly villains add their evil into the mix. And a n unforgettable romance between two people that will leave you sighing by the end. Hey, no spoilers here, but this IS romance so we know the hero and heroine get together. It's this colorful tapestry of the American West which Charlene weaves for us, each page a thread in what will eventually become a stunning piece of art.

Before we get to the excerpt for The Scent of Roses, grab yourself a cookie and settle back for an interesting period of American history which continues to this day.

• • • 


Some of the questions I am most often asked about my book, The Scent of Roses, concern polygamy.

Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, claimed to have received many revelations from God telling him how to set up the church, and how the Saints should live their lives. Smith may have received the infamous revelation about plural marriage in the 1830s, shortly before he married his first plural wife, Fanny Alger. But polygamy at this time was reserved for church leaders and not openly practiced until 1852.

Few Saints actually lived the principle. Those who did rarely exceeded two wives. There were no harems as shocked non-Mormons (Gentiles) imagined. Wives often lived separately, sometimes in different towns. Families set up their own routines and rules. Of course, there were problems.

Mormons believed they were protected by the freedom of religion clause in the Bill of Rights and continued to practice polygamy despite laws established to stop them. In 1882 amendments added to the Morrill Act made polygamy a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $500 fine. But the practice was almost impossible to prove, so those sentenced to prison were indicted under the easier to prove law against “unlawful cohabitation”.

Church leaders and other prominent members went into hiding. Church President John Taylor died. His successor, Wilford Woodruff, eventually knuckled under to the constant pressure to ban plural marriage. In 1890 he issued a press release, the Manifesto, which read, “I publicly declare that my advice to the Latter day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the land.” The vague stipulations contained therein not only failed to discourage polygamy, but seemed to encourage it. Many plural husbands and wives continued to cohabit until their deaths in the 1940s and 1950s.

The first church to break off from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This Sect, under the leadership of Joseph Smith III, backed by the first, legal wife of Joseph Smith Sr, Emma Smith, separated from the Mother Church in the 1850s and stayed in the Midwest. Basically, Reorganized members believed in the doctrine as Joseph Smith Sr. first established it, which did not include plural marriage.

For other groups, unhappy with the current leadership of their church, the breaking off and establishing of their own churches was inevitable.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the largest and best known of the religious groups in Utah who practice polygamy, even today. The FLDS, as they are often called, are not to be confused with the Reorganized Church which stayed in the Midwest. The FLDS came into being soon after the turn of the 20th century, but they were not alone. Many groups relocated to Utah, hoping they and their polygamist beliefs would be accepted here. For the most part, they were right.

Overall, in Utah today, polygamists number about 40,000 people, or about 1.4 percent of the population. Those living in their own communities tend to seek additional spouses from within or though networks of like communities. Often this involves daughters of polygamous families who enter into arranged marriages with older men already having a number of wives. This is commonly called daughter swapping. New brides are sometimes below the legal age limit. They may also be fairly close relatives, leading to inbreeding.

Small groups of from a few hundred to about 10,000 are reported to be located in various communities of the Western United States, Canada, and Mexico including:

Bountiful, British Columbia           
Ozumba, State of Mexico           
Colorado City, Arizona
Centennial Park, Arizona
Mancos, Colorado
Pringle, South Dakota
Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Pinesdale, Montana
Lund, Nevada
Eldorado, Texas   
Cedar City, Utah
Davis County, Utah
Hanna, Utah
Hildale, Utah
Manti, Utah
Modena, Utah   
Motaqua, Utah
Rocky Ridge, Utah
Salt Lake County, Utah
Sanpete Valley, Utah
Tooele County, Utah
Utah County, Utah               
Lovell, Wyoming

• • •

Wow! That's some incredible information. Thanks, Charlene! For anyone looking for more information about this topic, I highly recommend watching The West Series from PBS. It may be an old series, but the history hasn't changed.

So, now onto that great excerpt from The Scent of Roses. I'm sure you'll enjoy this story as much as I did.

• • •

A woman's smile . . .

Rosalyn Delaney's husband, Josiah, vanished six years ago. Following a private detective's lead, Rosalyn leaves Salt Lake City and boards a train heading to the mining town of Whiskey Ridge, Arizona. She arrives at Rose House, an old mansion reputed to be haunted, only to discover that her missing husband has been killed, and his business partner, Whip Kincaid, is wanted for his murder. Determined to uncover the secrets surrounding Josiah and his death, Rosalyn decides to stay--even though she begins to receive nightly visits from a charming "ghost" . . .

A ghost's kiss . . .

Escaping a troubled past, Whip Kincaid had hoped he could make a fresh start in Whiskey Ridge and open a saloon with his friend Josiah. Now, as a murder suspect hiding in his own house, Whip's future looks bleak indeed . . . unless he can find the real culprit. But the unexpected intrusion of Rosalyn ruins his plan to sneak out at night to investigate. Scaring her away is his first step in clearing his name, but Rosalyn doesn't rattle easily. And Whip isn't sure he wants the lovely widow to walk out of his life -- especially when she'll take his heart with her.

Rose House, Long Ago

The big house brooded on its lonely hill. Inside, the walls echoed with stillness. A breeze whispered through tiny crevices to lift dust, swirl it through abandoned rooms and down hidden passageways no guest had ever seen. Then, like a phantom, the breeze vanished in slanted rays of sunlight. The dust settled, the stillness returned, and the house heaved a sigh of boredom and regret.

Once, the walls had sung with cheerful sounds, with the chatter of women, and the laughter of children. Hopes. Dreams. Plans for the future.

Dashed forever by the crack of a bullet.

After that, years of silence . . . 

Outside, valiant roses scented the air. Virginia creeper and trumpet vines choked the house’s proud facade, almost obliterating doors and dust-caked windows. Hummingbirds whirred and hovered and supped from blazing blossoms. Bees sought their own nectar, and birds tended nests, ignoring the midnight-black cat skulking below. Masses of dangling green tendrils screened the empty porch swing, as if to shelter young lovers stealing a kiss.

Years had passed since the walls last quivered with passion or sung with ecstasy. Gone were the pleasant sounds, the peaceful, happy sounds the house yearned to hear again. Sounds now relegated to the past, as well as to some future day the house knew would come.

And so the house brooded, and waited.

April 1889, Arizona Territory 

Three buildings down, she came to a restaurant. Inside, a man in a long, greasy apron cleared dirty dishes off a table. The only other occupant, a gaunt, bearded miner, slurped coffee in a corner. A bell jangled when she opened the door.

“Something to eat, miss?” asked the man in the apron.

“Actually, I came for directions.” She told him who she needed to find.

“Ol’ Josiah’s most likely at his saloon across the street at The B&K House of Billiards.”

The thin miner put down his cup. “She cain’t go there, Clell. She’s a lady.”

“Well, you don’t want me sending her to the house, do you, Henry?”

Henry frowned. “No, you sure don’t want to be going there, miss.”

She ignored the unease that shimmied over her skin. “Why not? Are you speaking of Mr. Bullock’s home?”

“Yeah,” Clell said, “and a miracle it is them folks up there haven’t had something awful happen to them yet. Rose House, they call the place, cause of the rose bushes out front. Spook House would be more apt, if you was to ask me.”

“It’s haunted,” Henry explained in an awed tone.

“That there’s Rose House.” Clell pointed out the front window. “Up there on the hill.”

She peered through the dirty glass, the rain and growing darkness. The land beyond town rose gradually to form a curving ridge jutting out from the rugged bluffs that embraced the town. The house sat on a flat spot partway up the ridge, shaded by the only trees to be seen for miles, other than the twisted junipers atop the hills. A jagged line of willows, indicative of a rare spring, curved from above, around the house, and down to the flat land where the town sat.

“You cut ‘tween Dodd’s barber shop and Hop Sing’s laundry, you’ll come to a bridge over Drunkard’s Wash,” Henry said.

“That’s the name o’ the stream. Path leads from there up to the house. But like Clell here said, you don’t want to be going there, specially not with it stormin’ and night coming on. Best go to the hotel an’ have a boy sent to fetch Bullock.” 

Clell nodded. “That’d be the thing to do, all right.”

“Thank you.” She continued to squint at the house through the gray sheets of rain. 

The glare from a sudden burst of lightning did give the house a sinister appearance, squatting there alone on the hillside like a great gargoyle watching over the town below. But haunted? No, there was such thing as ghosts.

• • •

Charlene began her writing life at an early age, often penning stories where she cast herself as the heroine. It was after college when she dug out her old college typewriter and started her first novel, which came from a spirited dream she'd had the previous night.

While that book never sold, her second novel did. Tender Touch became a Golden Heart finalist and earned her an agent who signed the book, and two others, in a three book contract with Kensington Publishing. Kensington went onto publish five of Charlene's western historical romances: Taming Jenna (1994); Tender Touch (1994 Golden Heart Finalist); Forever Mine (1996 Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer's Choice Award Nominee and Affaire de Coeur Reader/Writer Poll finalist); To Have and To Hold (1997 Affaire de Coeur Reader/Writer Poll finalist); and as Rachel Summers, The Scent of Roses (1999).

Charlene took a break from publishing, but not from writing. A Kiss and A Dare is Charlene's first paranormal romance.

Divine Gamble is Charlene's most recently completed work and earned her first place at the 2010 Romance Through The Ages contest in their western historical romance category. Currently, she's reworking that first book she wrote that resulted from a spirited dream.

When Charlene isn't writing, she loves to travel, research genealogy, create digital scrapbooks and dye eggs in the Ukrainian style. She also enjoys camping and fishing with her husband in the Utah wilderness.

Find Charlene Online --

• • •

Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of The Scent of Roses today to one lucky commenter. Leave Charlene a message with your email address, or ask her a question, and be automatically entered into the random drawing.

Or grab a copy of The Scent of Roses here.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Romy Gemmell: The Aphrodite Touch

Joining us today is the lovely Romy Gemmell. She's not a new author, but she is knew to Tirgearr Publishing.

Romy is a career freelance writer who decided to turn her attention to fiction in recent years. She calls herself a 'butterfly writer' because she flits between genres. To date, she has published historical romance, Dangerous Deceit with Champagne Books; paranormal romance, Mischief at Mulberry Manor; and her recent 'tween' novels as Ros Gemmell, Summer of Eagles and The Jigsaw Puzzle with MuseItUp Publishing.

Today sees another release in Romy's collection, the first book in the Aphrodite and Adonis Series . . . The Aphrodite Touch.This is a charming story about two people who haven't quite made the ultimate connection in their relationship. Carla hopes the time she shares with Jamie on the exotic island of Cyprus will help them to finally make the connection she so desperately desires. But when they arrive into their hotel, all seems lost when she steps into their shared suite to find Jamie has booked single beds and not one big bed for the both of them.

Oh, my!

Unbeknownst to Carla and Jamie, the goddess of love, Aphrodite, and her own lover, Adonis, will play a hand in getting these two humans together. No better setting than Cyrpus.

Before we get to the excerpt, we had some time to chat with this busy author. Grab a cup of PG Tips, Typhoo, Brehaha, or whatever your favorite tea is, and settle in to meet Romy.

Welcome, Romy!

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to have a wee chat with us. I know how busy you are at the moment.

Rather than ask the same questions you'll, no doubt, be fielding about where you get your ideas and do you write to music and all that, our readers love to hear about their favorite author outside the writing process. With that in minds, please describe your writing space.

My house is in a pretty, quiet village at the top of a hill in the west coast of Scotland, within sight of the river and countryside. I’m lucky enough to have the use of a study in the extension we added to the house when the children were at home. Visitors call it the library as one wall is lined with books of all kinds. 

Although I do all my computer work in here, I go to my favourite coffee shop once a week at the nearest mall where I write for about half an hour with pen and paper while enjoying the Italian coffee and a cake. Most of the staff know me now and are really interested in my writing – the lovely young female boss bought my first book right away. I also love writing on trains when going into the city – can’t decide if it’s the change of work place or using a pen and paper that produces more words!

My window looks out onto our back garden that slopes up towards the fields and hillside. Beyond the fence, we often have sheep and cows passing by and one year a couple of lambs got through the fence onto the tasty grassy bank of the garden!  Now and then a pheasant will wander across the grass to forage around the trees – it probably thinks our garden is part of the countryside, and the woods are nearby!

Coffee AND cake? Nice!

I know what you mean about working in different spaces and the pen and paper thing. Sometimes I find I can write better when I take the laptop into another room, away from the office. But your work space sounds lovely, too. All the wildlife just outside the window. Sounds like it comes to you when you don't have time to go to it!

When you can pull yourself away from that stunning view, what is your daily writing routine like? As they say in writing, are you a planner or a panster? ;-)

Hmm...I’d love to say it’s very organised (it’s not), but every so often I try and keep to some kind of schedule. If possible, I stay around the home space two days of each week to catch up on everything. Monday and Thursdays are normally writing days, though I spend far too much time on blogs, forums, and other social networking. I sometimes have to fit in talks or competition adjudications for other writing groups, which I love doing.

Writing at the coffee shop on a Wednesday morning lets me do some food shopping afterwards, so it’s a very satisfying and enjoyable day. Tuesday afternoon is my local writing group which I’ve been part of for many, many years but I wouldn’t be without. Other days are taken up with necessary chores, meeting friends or family, excercise – the usual, although my husband has always been great at helping with housework!

Sounds like you're a bit of both the planner and panster . . . a nice balance though. Having a routine but allowing flexibility in it will keep you sane! But let's not talk about social media LOL

OK, so when you're not stuck online, not writing, not doing household chores, what do you get up to for fun? I imagine living in Scotland you have all kinds of interesting things on your doorstep.

Husband and I enjoy  walking at the weekends, especially down the coast beside the river or over at Loch Lomond – we both love the water. I also love to dance! I’ve tried belly dancing, salsa, and tap, as well as zumba exercises, but I’m now looking for a new class of some kind. Meanwhile, I put music on in the house and dance if I’ve been sitting too long  - as long as nobody can see me! I also like swimming but need to get back to it again.

I’ve always enjoyed film and TV dramas, reading of all kinds and I travel quite a lot – I don’t always enjoy the travelling part but I adore seeing new, interesting places around the world. Photography is fast becoming a favourite hobby.

Sounds like we'd be a deadly pair if we ever had an afternoon together! Loch Lomand is stunning--I love the water too. I dance when no one's looking . . . or to get a laugh out of the hubs. And photography is a great past time, for sure.

Thanks so much for having a chat with us.

Now, let's get to that excerpt.

• • •

Carla hopes that ten days on the romantic island of Cyprus will finally progress her relationship with reserved Scottish boyfriend, Jamie, to a full physical commitment. Or prove that they have no future together. But they had not counted on the intervention of the goddess Aphrodite and her lover, Adonis.

Will Aphrodite awaken Jamie’s hidden depths and allow him to return the passion that Adonis senses in Carla?

• • •

“They’re late.” Aphrodite flounced down in the wicker chair and propped her sandaled feet on the coffee table between them. A petal dropped from the sweetly fragranced lisianthus flowers making a pretty centrepiece, their delicate white petals tinged with pink.

Adonis smiled, and shook his head. “We don’t even know who they are, my love.”

Aphrodite waved off his remark and glanced at the hotel’s reception desk. “I’ll know them when I see them.” She studied the group of tourists now checking in for a week or two of paradise before returning to their boring, everyday lives. None warranted the Greek goddess of love’s attention.

“How about those two?” Adonis nodded to his right, displaying his fine profile.

Aphrodite smiled. Thousands of years, and she had yet to tire of her lover’s fabulous face. She glanced beyond him to where two marble statues angled slightly to face each other. Chiselled names identified the busts as Aphrodite and Adonis. She grimaced and reached across to touch his hand. “I am so glad you don’t look like that.”

Adonis laughed out loud. Several people in the lobby turned in their direction, and each smiled as though in appreciation. He took Aphrodite’s hand. “I never tire of your beauty and delightful presence, my love. Even after these thousands of years.”

Aphrodite’s smile faltered for a moment as she remembered their time was now limited each year, then her gaze shifted to the couple now approaching the reception desk.

“Ah, now they are more worthy of our attention, Adonis. Look at that girl with such fiery hair. If I am not mistaken, and you know that seldom happens, her heart beats with passion. But see how the man by her side acts toward her. He is solicitous but even from here I sense his hesitation.”

Adonis followed her gaze. “Repression. It is in every movement. You are right. I think we have found our new project. This man has great need of your loving touch, my Aphrodite.”

With one graceful, synchronised movement, Aphrodite and Adonis stood up and watched discreetly as the couple took their room key and turned toward the lift around the corner. Adonis quickly slipped a flower from the vase and followed Aphrodite.

They found the couple waiting for the lift and smiled their greeting.

“Welcome to our beautiful island, fair lady,” Adonis said, as he held out the fragrant bloom to the girl.

At the sight of the girl’s pleasure in the flower, Aphrodite stepped up to the man and briefly touched his cheek. “Enjoy your stay on this island of love.”

Before the couple could find words to reply, Aphrodite took her lover’s hand and they walked through the hotel lobby without a glance at anyone.

“Let our fun begin,” she said, once they were some distance from the hotel.

Adonis kissed her hand. “And may those young people know such love as we enjoy, beloved Aphrodite.”

• • •

A freelance writer for many years, Romy Gemmell’s short stories and articles are published in UK magazines, in the US, and Online and she has won a few short story prizes over the years. Her first historical novel, Dangerous Deceit, was published by Champagne Books in Canada in May 2011 (as Romy), and Victorian novella, Mischief at Mulberry Manor, was published on kindle in December 2012.

First tween novel, Summer of the Eagles, was published by MuseItUp Publishing in Canada in March 2012 (as Ros) and The Jigsaw Puzzle is now released in April 2013. She describes herself as a butterfly writer, as she writes in so many different genres and different styles. Rosemary is a member of the Society of Authors, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She indulged her love of literature and history by achieving a BA hons followed by a Masters in Humanities degree as a mature student. Happily married with two grown-up children, she loves to dance!

Find Romy online --

 • • •

Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of The Aphrodite Touch today to one lucky commenter. Leave Romy a message with your email address, or ask her a question, and be automatically entered into the random drawing.

Or grab a copy of The Aphrodite Touch here.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Valentine Williams: Losing It

Please welcome author, Valentine Williams, to the blog today. Poet and novelist, Valentine releases her third novel today, Losing It.

Losing It is unlike anything Tirgearr Publishing has put out before. This is a heart-gripping story. Part psychological thriller, part drama, part self-help, part inspirational in its own way, this story is not for the faint-hearted reader. There is some serious reading in this story.

Inspired by her work in the mental health field, Valentine pens a story of a woman who's lost touch with reality, Jane. She's been institutionalized for a crime she knows nothing about until Dr. Bruce enrolls her in a program to bring about her memories. Emotionally tortured, Jane escapes when she's allowed to attend her sister's funeral and returns to Belgium, and the scene where it all happened. Memories flood back in intense floods. How can she cope with what she's done? Is there only one solution for it?

Losing It will have you sitting forward in your seat as you read. It will have you clutching your throat to hold back your own emotions. It will send you through a whirlwind of your own, battling between feeling sorry for Jane and wanting to see her get what she deserves. Gripping stuff. I love books which make me think, and this one gave my mind a real workout.

Before we get to the excerpt, we had a chance to chat with Valentine, and asked her about her life when she's not writing.

Welcome, Valentine!

You're one busy lady . . . novel writing, poetry, teaching . . . so we really appreciate you've had a moment to speak with us.

I have it in my mind that I want to know more about where you got the idea for this story and what your research was like, but I'll save that for the next interview. Today, let's concentrate on *you*, the author, and how you work. Please, describe your writing space for our readers.

I work in a small room upstairs in my cottage, surrounded by reference books and assorted stuff (vinyl LPs of obscure Heavy Metal bands, discarded artwork and unwanted camping equipment left over from when our fourth son lived with us) and although cluttered, it is at least quiet. There is a small guest bedroom next door. I have a small china ornament next to my desk, a bearded Chinese sage resting by a barrel, which I love because he looks so contented, and a small wooden handmade toy of pecking chickens, a favourite of my grandaughter, that I bought in Poland. The door to my room, being old, is warped and has a latch, which I like because it reminds me of the house I was born in. I work on an old  PC and one day when I have some money I'll update it, but it does for now. Although I can see out of the window in front of my desk, I often draw the curtains across in case it distracts me. Just now the garden is coming alive with blossom – very distracting!

There are shelves full of my own books to the left of my desk – poetry, self help, two fiction novels I published with Immanion, anthologies with my stories in them, dictionaries, a thesaurus and box files with notes for future work. Oh yes, there's also a small filing cabinet for contracts and correspondance.  I promise to tidy it all up soon!

Heavy metal? Really?? It's always the quiet ones you have to watch out for. We'll have to talk bands one day. That could be an interview in itself {she says, turning up the volume on Pink Floyd}

So, tell us what your writing routine is like. Do you have a set schedule, like a {gulp} real job, or do you just see what the day has planned for you?

I get up early, attend to various chores and sit down to write  at around eight thirty, armed with a coffee and a note about what needs doing. Revisions? Website? Contact publishers? Check emails? That done, I work on whatever the current project is. At present I'm working on a murder mystery set in Italy, so I'm spending time researching 'Ndrangheda, the Mafia offshoot. At around midday I go down to the kitchen and get some lunch and chat to Mr W., then I go out for exercise and return to my writing late afternoon or early evening. Last week my routine was interrupted by a radio interview, a poetry open mic event and a reading by three poets. I collect a poetry prize next month, and preparing for that has been time consuming too. Sometimes I'm surprised I manage to finish anything, but deadlines keep me focused. 

Congratulations on the poetry prize! You do sound busy, but it also sounds very productive, which is a good busy. Your mafia story sounds interesting. Will be have another Mario Puzo in the future? I'm thinking, maybe!

What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?

Mostly what I do when I'm not writing is to join my husband or friends and visit art galleries, flea markets or music events, and as many of our friends are artists, musicians or poets, this is  always interesting and comes under the heading of FUN in my life. We both love world cinema and have recently seen Untouchable for the second time, with the remarkable Omar Cy. Having cooked for six hungry people every night for years, I now take every opportunity to eat out and somehow we usually end up in a curry house, or a pub. Keeping in touch with family and friends means we travel quite a lot, but I've become adept at using our trips away to take notes and get ideas for stories. I really love listening to the stories told to me by people we meet, and usually find a way to incorporate them into the plot, with their permission of course! Because I need time by myself to reconnect with the natural world, I sometimes go wandering along the shore, or in the hills, finding a quiet space to inhabit. It always refreshes my spirit. Writing can fill you up and drain you at the same time, I find, so for me this occasional solitude is essential.

Sounds like empty-nesting is agreeing with you. I love flea markets, too. So much junk in one place! I haven't seen Untouchable, but on your recommendation, I'll look for it.

Thanks so much for taking time out of your obviously very busy day to chat with us. And best of luck with Losing It.

Now, for that excerpt -- 

• • •

Jane has been locked up in a high security hospital for killing her children. Well meaning intervention by Dr. Townsend begins to uncover early events in Jane's life. While attending her sister's funeral, Jane escapes and goes back to the Belgian caravan site where the murders took place. She connects in a real way with her past, is brought back to the hospital but being fully aware of her own actions now, feels she cannot go on living.

 • • •

Once there was a girl who grew up knowing that the choices she would make as an adult would be bad choices.
Sometimes there are no good choices.

Keep quiet and out of sight and pretend it's all right; that's one choice. Make a scene and fight and kick and scream all you want; that's another choice, but you'll only end up getting banged up or beaten. You see what I mean about choices?

I once made a choice about my children. I forget what it was now, but it's why I'm here.

Back to this girl. She was all right, this girl. Took care of her mother and her younger sister. Tried her best to behave and be good; even her teacher praised her for trying her best. She liked her teacher. But even her teacher couldn't always see how tired the girl was, or how much she worried.

Her grandmother was kind, and this girl loved her, though she wasn't around for long enough to make a real difference. When she grew up, after all the bad things happened, it was another older woman who understood her and took care of her. This older woman's name was Elsie, and she was a grandmother too.

She wasn't an orphan, or in care; this girl lived with her parents. But her mother couldn’t help. She should have been able to but she drank too much and the girl had to find food and cook for the family even when there was no money. Her father left when she was only ten, and her mother’s drinking got worse. No wonder she and her sister clung together.

My name is Jane, by the way.

After they took her sister Michelle away, the girl just wanted to escape, so when she met Fedo it seemed like a dream come true. Good–looking and strong, he knew how to take care of himself. He attracted this girl because he came from somewhere else and he paid attention to her; that was the main thing. He made her feel like someone special. Everyone needs that. She had to make a choice, to go with him or to stay with her mother. She was sixteen. You have to understand that. She was sixteen, so she chose to go with Fedo.

This girl I'm telling you about, she tried her best, but some things can't be mended. See, I'm crying now.
For the first time ever I'm making the right choice. This is my witness.

• • •

Valentine is a writer and poet who gained a late MA in Creative Writing at Edge Hill and was then commissioned to write two self-help books for Sheldon (SPCK). Trained in psychotherapy, she has worked in Mental Health and allied fields most of her life, having failed to keep order as a teacher and bored to tears by banking, her first two career choices.

Published in many poetry anthologies and winner of several prizes last year, Mary keeps tabs on the Liverpool poets she met while on her MA, and helps run a writers’ and poets’ group in her home town. She is a member of the Keele Poets at Silverdale. When not at her computer or kitchen sink, she can be found on her allotment or in the local flea market. Married with four adult sons, she lives in Shropshire in an inconvenient cottage full of paintings by friends and family members with her art-therapist husband and tries to stop the garden getting into the house.

Find Valentine online --

• • •

Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of Losing It today to one lucky commenter. Leave Valentine a message with your email address, or ask her a question, and be automatically entered into the random drawing.

Or grab a copy of Losing It here.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Kristi Ahlers: The Trouble with Beaches

What I love most about series stories is that there is an endless scope of story possibilities. And Kristi Ahlers' Trouble Series is an excellent example of this.

One reading this story will not find the same doldrum reads as with some other series work. Starting with (and I'll just use the main part of the title, because it's trouble with everything, apparently ;-) ) French Kisses, Ms Ahlers crafts a cute story set in Paris where there is a law on the books about not kissing on train platforms in the city. Why? Missed trains, late trains . . . who wants to interrupt a couple so obviously in love that their goodbye kiss seemingly goes on forever? Such passion!

Then we had Pilots. Not your average Mile High story, but it starts with one heck of a kiss.

Next is Voodoo. In this story, Ms Ahlers ventures down the path where ghosts roam the halls, and apparently bookstores. Set in New Orleans, the heroine appeals for advice from the local voodoo queen!

Just down the road, the heroine is making Cupcakes in her little shop in the French Quarter. Ooh la la, this book also includes one HUMDINGER of a recipe.

Over the holidays our hero and heroine were caught kissing under the Mistletoe.

And today, we're in San Francisco where our heroine is a tour guide. Oh my! If you thought the previous five stories curls your toes, Beaches will curl everything else. Besides writing some really lovely little stories in this series, Ms Ahlers can also write a kiss like no one's business.

In The Trouble with Beaches, Anne has just opened her own business--tour guides of San Francisco. her first tour is booked quickly with four lovely elderly ladies who want to see the top attractions. Easy, right? Well, when Anne and her stuck-in-the-60s driver, Gunther, arrive to collect the bitties, Anne learns several lessons rather quickly, including: never judge a book by its cover, never underestimate the elderly, and maybe love at first sight is a real thing.

Dean, an architect from the Windy City, thinks this tour will be a great way to spend some quality time with his dear old grandmother. The moment he sets eyes on Anne, something gets him going. It's not long before he realizes what that something is. He pushes her buttons every chance he gets, playing a fine line between totally ticking her off and getting her to melt into him. It's not long before both realize what's really happening here. And leave it to the bitties to stir the proverbial!

I loved the side attraction between Gunther and Cora, too. Remember, a retiree today was a rockin' hipster back in 1969 ;-)

To painfully use a tired cliche, The Trouble Series has something for everyone. And Beaches is no exception. Take a tour around San Francisco and learn some fascinating history of the city and its people, meet some incredible not-so-old ladies with some of their own stories to tell, and watch love bloom in an instant. Some people may think a meaningful relationship can't develop so quickly, but I beg to differ. Love finds its own way and in its own time. One either goes with it or struggles for eternity. Like Stephen Stills sang in his 1970 hit song . . . Love the one you're with!

I caught up with Kristi as her book was going to press, literally at the last minute (sorry Kristi!). She was gracious enough to take time out of her schedule for a quick chat about her life on the real world side of her screen.

Congratulations, Kristi, on your new release. Every Trouble story gets better and better. And welcome to Heart of Fiction. Our readers are very nosey people. They love your stories, but they want to know about YOU. For example: What is my writing space like?

It's a wonderful little room with all of my treasures surrounding me. I have printed pictures of all my covers on a inspiration board directly in front of my desk. My desk is in front of a window and when I look out I see a lake and tall pines surrounding the water. I have all sorts of knick knacks surrounding me, that inspire the writing.

Wow! Sounds idyllic. Can I move in with you? :-)

I know you recently moved. What is my daily routine like nowadays?

Once I get moving, the first stop is the coffee maker where I get a pot of Pumpkin Spice coffee brewing (yes year long, I buy and freeze it when it's available) then I pick up the house real quick before I sit down at the computer to either post blogs or start writing. I have my "write my blog days" and my "post my blog days" I set aside time for social media in between writing.

Mmm . . . pumpkin. I'm a firm believer that as with puppies, pumpkin anything is not just for Christmas ;-) Makes me want to break out some Libby's to make a pie!

Oh, wait! We were talking about you. It's not hard to get distracted by food, especially around you. I'm still having dreams about those cupcakes in New Orleans . . .

So, when you're not doing the cupcake thing or the writing thing, what do you like doing? Any special hobbies?

I love to read, and when I'm not reading, I relax by doing cross stitch. I'm also a huge fan of going to the beach when I can. :)

Yes, you do love the beach, and that comes through loud and clear in The Trouble with Beaches. I just know readers will love this one.

Thanks for the last minute chat. As you know, you RAWK!

Without further delay, check out The Trouble with Beaches for yourself, Readers, and see this one doesn't make you hanker for a tour of San Francisco, some great sourdough bread, a 'trip' through the Haight, and of course, a visit to the beach.

• • •

Anne is starting her own tour business and her first tour is made up of four retired ladies. How hard could this tour be? Well, Anne isn’t counting on one lady getting flirty with her 60’s retro driver, one lady having an unusual love of sharks, or the grandson of the leader of the pack not only being sexy as heck, but also being a teasing thorn in her side. Her attraction to Dean is instant and hot, and suddenly when the tour comes to an end, Anne wonders if a new chapter in her life is about to begin. Or is it going to be bon voyage to her heart?

Dean has agreed to join his grandmother on her vacation as a way of spending some time with her. Since he’s so busy with his architectural firm, he hasn’t spent time with her like he normally had. This trip to California is exactly what he needs. He’s prepared to have a great time. What he’s not prepared for is the instant burning attraction to the sexy little tour guide. Dean wants Anne more than he wants his next breath, and although the attraction is mutual, he realizes he needs to talk Anne into giving him a chance. Well, nothing worth having ever came easy, and he’s going to make sure Anne realizes they’re meant to be together.

Anne was screwed.

Yup, there was no way to sugar coat it. She was going to jack this up in a big way—after all if you were going to do something, you might as well do it right. And Anne believed in excelling at everything she did, even if it was screwing up. Well, it couldn’t be said that she wasn’t going to be memorable.

“Are you sure you’re ready to do this?” Meredith asked with a laugh.

Meredith was Anne’s best friend and she was currently home in Napa trying to run her family’s winery. “No, but I’ve got to start sometime and this shouldn’t be too hard. I hope.”

Anne had quit the rat race. Well, in so far as she didn’t go to an office and sit in a cubical all day and watch the world pass her by, that is. With help from her eccentric grandma, she was able to fulfill her dream of owning her own tour company and be a tour guide in her favorite city—San Francisco.

Her first tour group was arriving later that afternoon and she was at once both sick and excited. It was a horrible feeling. Since she really wanted Tours by Anne to succeed, she was putting an awful lot of stress on herself, and she parked that stress in her stomach.

Meredith patted her on the shoulder, “You know exactly what the group wants to see. You’ve made all the arrangements, paid for the fees where needed . . . things are going to be fine.”

Gunther, her van driver—a suggestion by Grammy and one Anne couldn’t say no to—strolled into the office and made his way over to the dorm fridge. He hadn’t left the 60s behind like everyone else. He was currently wearing a tie-died shirt sporting yellows, oranges and greens—bold colors to be sure—and his graying hair was pulled back in a ponytail. “Ya know, Annie girl, you’ve just got to let things roll, ya dig? Life is too short, man, to get all bent over the small stuff.”

Intellectually, Anne knew this and so far her dealing with Martha Bryant had been perfectly normal. Blissfully normal, actually. Anne really had no reason to feel so unsettled but she did. Like first day of school kind of nervous. No, it was not that. It was a sense that she was missing something, maybe didn’t have the facts kinda thing. She hated that. Really, really hated that.

Despite her misgivings, she was as ready as she could be. With the help of Martha it was determined the first day of the tour would be spent at the famous Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, and if time allowed, they would do a driving tour of local  tourist sites before they would go their separate ways for dinner. The second day would be spent at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose and then they’d have free time for the few hours left before the group departed for Los Angeles—without Anne of course.

Before Anne could respond to Gunther, her grandmother came into the kitchen. “Good morning, dear.”
Anne walked around the butcher block table island to her grandmother. “Morning, Grammy.” She kissed her papery cheek. “What are you doing over here so early?”

Anne grabbed a mug and filled it with her favorite pumpkin spice coffee. She didn’t understand why it had to be a seasonal flavor, so when it was available she hoarded it and kept it in the freezer to drink throughout the year.

“Just wanted to be here before you left to wish you luck.”

“Thanks, Gram.” Anne turned to Gunther, “Are you ready?”

“Born ready, dude.”

• • •

Kristi Ahlers is a California girl! She grew up in Northern California in a small city called Yuba City. Since then she's lived in Brussels, Belgium, and England along with a myriad of other locations. A former flight attendant, she was able to continue to feed her love of travel. This has greatly influenced her writing, allowing her to pen stories about places she's managed to visit and things she's experienced.

Kristi loves to hear from her readers.

Find Kristi online at --

Kristi Ahlers
Kristi's Blog
Tirgearr Publishing

• • •

Stay tuned for the Trouble Duets collections --

The Trouble with Paris includes French Kisses and Pilots
The Trouble with New Orleans includes Voodoo and Cupcakes
The Trouble with California includes Beaches and the soon to come, Vineyards

• • •

Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of The Trouble with Beaches today to one lucky commenter. Leave Kristi a message with your email address, or ask her a question, and be automatically entered into the random drawing.

Or grab a copy of Beaches here

Be sure to check out Kristi's main page at Tirgearr Publishing for her Trouble backlist, as well as her novel, His Heart's Desire.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Buyer Habits: Poll Results

Thank you to everyone who participated in our recent poll at Heart of Fiction --

-- The poll is now closed --

We asked readers where they found the books they bought. This poll came on the foot of a similar poll asked at Teleread --

Here are our results:

• Our placements (their placement)

1(3) – Book Reviews and/or Author Endorsements – 20 votes (78 votes)
2 (1) – Social Networking (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) – 14 votes (89 votes)
3 (2) – Blogs (author’s personal blogs, guest blogger, virtual blog tours, etc.) – 10 votes (85 votes)

4 (9) – Feemiums (free books, giveaways, contests, etc.) – 9 votes (48 votes)
5 (7) – Radio and/or TV Talk Shows – 8 votes (53 votes)
6 (8) – Author Talks (seminars, conferences, etc.) – 6 votes (50 votes)
7 (6) – Book Signings (local bookstores, conferences, etc.) – 5 votes (57 votes)
8 (4) – Press Releases – 4 votes (68 votes)
9 (5) – eZines and/or email marketing (newsletters) – 2 votes (59 votes)
10 (11) – Video Promotions (video book trailers) – 0 votes (48 votes)
0 (10) – Articles (48 votes) (we did not include this on our poll as articles usually fall under blogging)

78 Total Votes (633 Total Votes)

For the sake of the poll, we listed the same items the original article listed, with the exception of Articles, as we felt these almost always were on blogs.

Very interesting results, as you can see.

I should add to this, commenters suggested adding Personal Referrals/Word of Mouth. Some also relied on the recommendations from their preferred vendor (Amazon, Nook, Apple, etc).

Thank you again to everyone who participated and who've been following our results.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

C. Margery Kempe: Man City: Lizzie

Score another win for the home team!

C. Margery Kempe's latest in the Man City Series is now available. Book one was Shai's story. Now we meet Lizzie.

Styled after the pre-Raphaelite model, Elizabeth Siddal, Lizzie is a red-haired beauty with a serious dilemma on her hands - chef boyfriend, Nigel, wants to take Lizzie off the dating menu. But her lover Jake offers some side dish excitement.

What's a girl to do? Our Lizzie finds a creative way to compare the meals before her in a side-by-side taste test.

Will the boys be up for the challenge? Hopefully, and in more ways than one.

In the spirit of Man City; Shai, readers are dropped into Lizzie's life and feel her anxiety over being forced to chose between two men she loves, while also feeling the excitement of what's to come.

• • •

Lizzie had been grateful for the impromptu docent duties that morning as it had mostly kept her from thinking about her own potential trap. Seated behind her desk once more with a lot of paperwork waiting, it became impossible not to ruminate on 'the Nigel problem' as she had begun to think of it.
Six little words.

"I want us to be exclusive," he had said to her last night, taking her hand across the table. She hoped the dismay didn't show too clearly on her face, but he had at least recognized surprise. Studying his earnest face, Lizzie had to admit not many women would say no to that offer.

Nigel was tall, dark and handsome for sure. He cooked like a dream and he had a laugh that warmed like a stove on a winter's afternoon. Lizzie enjoyed the strength of his arms and the concentration in his face when they made love. Nigel made sure she was satisfied, whether he was preparing dinner or eating her out.

So why in the world wouldn't she want to have that all to herself?

Her phone buzzed and Lizzie saw the number she had been half-expecting to flash there. 

He was why.

"Hello, Jake," Lizzie could almost hear herself purr.

"Can you meet for lunch?" His tone was casual, but that didn't fool her.


"My place."

She snorted. "Will I get any food out of this?"

"You could pick something up on the way!" He rang off without even saying good-bye.

That was Jake: impetuous, fun-filled, demanding and unpredictable.

And that was why she didn't immediately agree to Nigel's proposal. She had strong feelings for both of them; why did she have to choose? A gorgeous guy who cooks? A life-of-the-party guy who thrilled her? She had three favourite restaurants and at least a dozen favourite artists. Why only one boyfriend? It made her want to stomp her foot and cry in her best two-year-old voice, "It's not fair!"

 • • •

C. Margery Kempe is a writer of erotic romance distinguished by its humour, intelligence, and fearless
sensual pleasures. Her stories range from contemporary thrillers to medieval era fairy tales.

An English professor by day, she also writes on medieval literature, film, creative writing and New Media, as well as humor, drama, mainstream and genre fiction under her real name and non-explicit romance as Kit Marlowe.

She's a weekly blogger at Nights of Passion on Sundays.

 Find C. Margery online at --

Nights of Passion
The Pop Culture Divas
Tirgearr Publishing

 • • •

Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of Man City: Lizzie today to one lucky commenter. Leave C. Margery a message with your email address, or ask her a question, and be automatically entered into the random drawing.