Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Road Show by Braden Bell

I always wanted to write a novel that included an original song, and Braden Bell has done it with his debute novel The Road Show.

I expected The Road Show to be about a corny road show, but it is no typical ward production with humorous lines. It is a story about the healing power of Jesus Christ, repentance, and understanding the true love of Christ. Bell wrote with such insight of Christ's love for us and our responsibility to care for each other that it brought tears to my eyes. He portrayed so well the incredible spiritual experience of the cast members.

Bell developed his characters well, made me feel uncomfortable enough with Scott's pornography addiction to feel the pain he was going through, but yet care enough about him to want to pull him away from his computer in his moments of weakness. I related to Eula and Ed, grew with Curtis and Stephanie as they come to understand the power of a loving Heavenly Father.

Here is the blurb:
Scott Jenson hates everything he knows about road shows especially the cheap costumes, silly songs, and bad acting. So when he finds himself agreeing to be the road show specialist, he wonders how he can do it without becoming the biggest fool in the ward. From miscues to missed practices, Scott directs his crew of amateur actors all while hoping that no one finds out about his secret.

Is there any way that this trivial road show can have a healing effect on the lives of five troubled souls? A pornography addict, a depressed young mother, a sick older woman, a lonely outcast, and a spiritually numb elder's quorum president are about to find out. Braden Bell gives a five-star performance with Road Show: Beauty for Ashes. With true-to-life characters, humorous situations, and tender realizations, this book is guaranteed to make you smile and applaud for more.

You can buy The Road Show here.
Hear the original song here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

First review of The Star Prophecy

Tina Scott has posted the first review of the Star Prophecy on her blog, "Totally Tina."

"Mrs. Sowards tells the account of Enoch and his friends as though intimately familiar with the era, and weaves her tale through both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament’s scriptural accounts of Christ’s birth in such a way that, as a reader, I was convinced it could have happened just as she told it."

Come and read her impressions of The Star Prophecy.

Thank you, Tina!

Buy The Star Prophecy at LDS bookstores and Amazon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Meg's Melody by Kaylee Baldwin (and Interview!)

Meg's Melody is Kaylee Baldwin first novel and is now available on Amazon. I very much enjoyed ready this compelling story of a young woman who shortly after her husband leaves her, discovers she is expecting her first child. Going through the ailments of the first trimester, facing the prospects of being a single parent, slowly becoming active in the Church again, Meg finds the strength to carry on . . . "and an unexpected friendship to see her through. This touching story combines romance with real conflicts to remind you it's never too late to find love - if you know where to look."

Back Cover blurb:
She paced the small confines of her bathroom as she waited the obligatory two minutes for the result. Yet, part of her sensed the truth. Not only did Austin take her self-esteem and plans for happiness, but he also took her get-out-of-this-marriage-free card.

The plus sign glared at Meg from the white plastic frame of the pregnancy test. The test fell from her hands and clattered into the bathtub as Meg’s back slid against the wall until she reached the floor.

“I’m pregnant,” she said into the quiet.

Meg never imagined she'd end up like this. With nowhere else to turn, she's forced to rely on the family she pushed away, the church she abandoned, and an unexpected friendship to help her find her forgotten melody. Meanwhile Matt is still mourning the loss of his wife. But determined to keep things together for his daughter's sake, he decides starting over in a new place might be just what his family needs.

This touching story combines romance with redemption and real conflict to remind you it's never too late to find joy. Kaylee Baldwin's capable hand renders a sincere, heartfelt story of rediscovery and hope. Perfect for romantics of all ages, this book will captivate your heart and rekindle your belief in the magic of music.

* * *

Joan: Hi, Kaylee, and thank you for visiting my blog today! I like that you set Meg's Melody in Arizona. It adds to its unique storyline. Please tell us how you came up with the idea for Meg's Melody, and about the process you went through to get published.

I started writing Meg’s Melody about three years ago. Not wanting to shave my legs. There was this one night, mid-winter, when I didn’t want to shave my legs because it can be a real time-eater. While moping about this, I started feeling the voice of a character build up inside of me. So I pulled out a pen and a spiral notebook and wrote down a whole story about my character going on a shaving strike after her husband leaves her. It went through all of the stages of hairy legs (from prickly to soft), until she finds out she’s pregnant and decides she should shave before going to the OB. Thus, Meg’s voice was born.

I tried to write a little bit every week, but life kept getting in the way. Finally, about two years ago, I got serious about writing, joined a critique group, and finished the bulk of Meg’s Melody in about six months. It took about ten months of submitting and revising to get accepted by a publisher. Now, seven months later I finally have a copy of my book!

Joan: Why did you choose Meg for your main character's name?

Kaylee: Meg is one of my all-time favorite girl names, but it is also the name of my husband’s ex-girlfriend (you know, the one right before me, that we don’t really talk about.) So, naming a child Meg was nixed, but I can name my characters whatever I want.

Joan: I understand. My son has the same name as one of my last boyfriends, but my husband chose it. :-)

How does “Melody” in the title fit into the story?

A: Music is a big part of Meg's life. For as long as she can remember, she has felt connected with music in a way that mirrors her moods. She is also a high school music teacher. When her life spirals downward after her husband leaves, she feels disconnected from everyone and everything, including the melodies that have shaped her life. Before she can heal, she needs to let her love of music back into her heart.

Joan: After reading Meg’s Melody, I can tell music is also a big part of your life. How so?

I enjoy most music, but I especially love the piano. Growing up, my family couldn't afford a piano until I was seventeen, but I used to love listening to my friends play or tinkling around on our electric one. When we did get our old upright, I immediately signed up for lessons. Even now, when I write, I love to have music in the background (Jim Brickman is my favorite), to help me to relax and focus. I also play the violin and love making up songs and melodies to sing to my children. I can't imagine life without music!

Joan: What advice would you give aspiring writers today?

Kaylee: Just keep writing! It can get really discouraging at times, but just keep revising, learning, growing, and trying. There were many times you may want to give up, but a walk around the block, a pep talk from someone who believes in you, a personal deadline, and rewards for meeting that deadline can give you a lot of motivation to keep pressing forward.

Joan: Okay. Something off the subject of writing. How about telling us your most embarrassing moment?

Kaylee: Oh, man. I thought I wouldn’t have to answer these questions anymore once I got out of school. I have too many moments to list! The most recent one, though, was the last time I went to get a massage. I took big, white granny panties with me to wear for the massage. When I left the spa, I threw them in the backseat of the car because I was going to a church activity and didn’t want granny panties to fall out of my purse. Well, about a week later, my husband comes in the house after being at a scout activity all morning, my granny panties dangling from his finger. Apparently, the boys (about 15 years old) found them in the backseat of the car on the way to the activity, and wanted to know why their leader had a pair of women’s underwear in the backseat of his car. *waggle eyebrows here* Oops.

Joan: That is embarrassing. What are you working on now?

Kaylee: I’m editing my 2nd novel right now, a contemporary YA. I’m also working on another LDS romance that follows a minor character from Meg’s Melody.

Joan: Oooo! I can't wait to find out who it is. Thank you for the interview and best wishes for the success of Meg's Melody.

Kaylee: Thank you!

To learn more, visit Kaylee's blog.

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Angel on Main Street by Kathi Oram Peterson

What a great Thanksgiving!--and now we can turn our thoughts to Christmas. I love a touching Christmas story and Kathi Oram Peterson's An Angel on Main Street is exactly that. I read it last Christmas and loved it so much that I plan to read it again this season.

Micah Connors promised his mother he would be good in their new town. But with Christmas only three days away, being escorted home by the sheriff does not bode well. Can the towering officer be trusted not to tell what happened? Perhaps the ramshackle stable that has appeared on Main Street will sidetrack him from spilling the day's events--or maybe his interest in Micah's widowed mother will do the trick. The last thing Dawn Connors needs is to hear her son is in trouble. She has enough to worry about with her husband gone and her daughter, Annie, ill.

Even though Micah has told his sister the rustic structure in the middle of town is simply part of the town's holiday decorations, Annie is sure the unseen angels are building the crude stable--which means baby jesus is coming, and He can make her better. Terrified that his little sister might die, Micah vows to find the baby Jesus for Annie, even if it is only a plastic doll. But as Micah gets nearer to his goal he finds that angels are closer than he ever would have believed.

Congratulations to Peterson for writing such a touching tale. I hope you all take the time to read this short novel, and have a great Christmas!

Other novels by this author:
The Stone Traveler
The Forgotten Warrior

Kathi Oram Peterson's blog.
Click here to watch the book trailer for An Angel on Main Street.

Monday, November 22, 2010

True Miracles With Genealogy by Anne Bradshaw

I admit I am a family history addict. There nothing more fulfilling than searching out those who have gone on, putting families together, and bringing those may never be remembered again, out of obscurity.

Anne Bradshaw's new book is titled True Miracles with Genealogy--Help From Beyond is a collection of inspiring research stories, about spiritual moments as help comes from beyond the veil. It is unique, comforting, and powerful. Each account can't help but touch hearts as readers come to the heady realization that there really is a world of spirits.

Anne says about her book, "I put out requests for stories on many social websites, including Facebook. Genealogists from all over the USA and from other countries responded. It amazed me to read so many unusual experiences—to learn of the many different ways researchers received the help they needed.

"I'm sure my book contains only a tiny portion of the vast number of stories that go unrecorded every year—even every day—thro

ughout the world. As someone says in the book, "Heaven is only a whisper away." It really is that close, but most times in the busy hours of our life, we're not in tune, or not ready to listen

and act.

"I began compiling seriously at the

beginning of 2010. The more stories I received the more fascinating, and compelling it was to keep going.

Once the initial call for stories went out, friends began telling others about the project and story gathering took on its own momentum.

"There was a lot of work involved in the initial story editing to make each one fit the book's style. I thought about putting different accounts into categories within the book, but as stories kept arriving, I they simply didn't fit neatly into any particular groups because each experience was unique, and as such, each one needed its own classification, which defeated any effort to make them match others."

Visit Anne's website here.

True Miracles with Genealogy is available as an ebook $2.99 and paperback from Amazon at for $8.99, shipping $3.99

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Star Prophecy by Joan Sowards

I just received my first copy of my novel, The Star Prophecy and it is beautiful. It is a tale of young Nephite men who set sail for Jerusalem to find the Christ Child.

The back cover blurb reads:

"You are crazy. No Nephite has ever returned."

Most people laugh when they hear of Enoch's dream of returning to Jerusalem to find the infant Messiah. Even Enoch's future father-in-law mocks him when he asks for a postponement of his long-awaited wedding to his beloved Rebekah. A few take Enoch seriously--the shipbuilder Omnihah, Enoch's teacher David, and the prophet Nephi.

Five Years before, a Lamanite named Samuel had stood on the wall of Zarahemla and prophesied that "five years more cometh" and the Christ would be born in Jerusalem. Time is running out! Enoch knows he must set sail across the great water in search of his dream--to see the face of the Messiah.

The Star Prophecy is a surprising story of courage and love, faith and fortitude. Sail with Enoch and his friends across the sea through hardship and adventure in search of the Christ child.

"I love Joan Sowards' inventive mind. She begins this adventurous tale with "what if?' and tells it so well that the reader closes the book thinking 'why not?' The Star Prophecy adds a surprising new dimension to the Christmas story." -Liz Adair, author of Counting the Cost

"Action-adventure, romance, inspirational, and historical fiction all rolled into one make the Star Prophecy an exciting page turner." -Margaret L Turley, author of Save the Child

Buy at Amazon and LDS Bookstores

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh Say Can You See? by Laurie C Lewis

Laurie C Lewis has added another great historical novel in her series Free Men and Dreamers. Oh Say Can You See? and tells of the dramatic events surrounding the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Volume 4 of this series, Oh Say Can You See? "This book is a magnificent love story—love between man and woman, love between friends, love between siblings, and ultimately, love between citizens and their country. While it tells the backstory of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” I found myself reflecting on the lyrics to another favorite song: “Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.”
Braden Bell, author of
The Road Show

Volumes 1-3 of the series include Dark Sky at Morning, Twilight's Last Gleaming, Dawn's Early Light.

Laurie's other novels include Awakening Avery and Unspoken. Visit her website.

Watch the trailer for Oh Say Can You See?
Read a great interview with Laurie C Lewis here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Today's Smile

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror,

and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

"Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today."

So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror

and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

"H-M-M," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today."

So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed

that she had only one hair on her head.

"Well," she said, "today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail."

So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and

noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.

"YAY!" she exclaimed. "I don't have to fix my hair today!"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Winner of the Spooktacular Drawing!

Congratulations to Tammy of Salmon, Idaho, the winner of a copy of Haunts Haven!

Thank you all for entering. Happy Halloween. :-)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Family History

I admit it. I am totally addicted to family history research and I enjoy it as much as writing.

I actually attribute my love for writing to family history. Years ago, I found a name of a woman that possibly could be my ancestor’s mother. The impression repeatedly came to sit down at the computer and write how an interview with her would go. I did and it turned into a short story. Then it grew into a novel—my first novel (unpublished)—Bridges of the Heart. Through that experience, I discovered I love writing and crafting a story as much as I love doing family history research.

As everyone else, I had planned to start genealogy in my retirement years, but about twenty years ago a friend insisted I find a babysitter and go with her for an hour to the family history center. After that I was hooked.

I used to be like the girl I met one evening sitting in the back of the family history center as the other Young Women in her class attentively listened to the missionary sister giving a tour. I asked the girl why she didn’t join her friends. “My family has been in the church for generations and our genealogy is all done,” she said, leaning back in her chair with an air of smugness.

I had to hide a smirk. “I used to think that way too,” I told her. “But as I got into researching, I found that each of my ancestors had siblings, spouses, and in-laws that still needed finding. Outside of my direct line, very few had their temple work done.”

She shrugged and I knew that was my cue to leave her alone to bask in her all-is-well-in-Zion attitude, though I knew the joy she'd miss.

Sometimes I feel guilty spending time doing family history, but in the long run, I know it is not time wasted. Every name found goes on I feel warm all over finding a name that isn’t already recorded there. Making records public takes lost individuals out of

obscurity who may otherwise never be remembered.

Another good thing about researching, is that I can do it at home in my spare time, between loads of laundry, and grandchildren visits. I can do it when I’m burned out from writing on my novel. I can write my novel when I’m burned out doing family history research.

The bottom line—doing family history work brings happiness. :-)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Read Haunts Haven

October is a great month to read Haunts Haven. Besides that Halloween is coming up, Haunts Haven has a real a ghost--a handsome ghost. The synopsis is right here in the sidebar. Click and read the first chapter.

Happy reading and happy haunting!

Friday, September 24, 2010

How Do You Write a Smile?

Don't take me too seriously on this one, but I like my characters to be happy and I find it a challenge to write a smile. Yes, I know it’s all right to write he smiled, but sometimes it gets monotonous. In an 80,000-word novel it takes a lot of creative writing to keep your character creatively smiling.

The English language doesn’t have enough substitutes for the word smile.Grin, beam, and smirk is all my thesaurus offers. To avoid each smile from sounding like the last, the writer will sometimes use modifiers such as toothy, wide, lopsided, ridiculous, or that the ends of her mouth turn up. If the character’s eyes light up, her smile smiles differently than two pages ago.

Maybe someone should make a long list of smile descriptions, cut them in slips, put them in a jar and market it to writers. Whenever they need to write a smile, they can draw one out and, kazam! It’s done. (The inventor will probably make more money than from book royalties.)

Another word we English conversers got shorted on is laugh. There isn’t a word for an ordinary, boring huff. If it is an everyday grin—no emotion involved—there’s not a lot to choose from. Everyone laughs. If we don’t blow out our breath in a quiet laugh, we just smile, or there we go grinning again.

The best we can do is chuckle, and if you’re under sixteen you can giggle. If you are a little loony you may twitter and chortle. Boys snicker. Males hoot. Old women snort and cackle (may I never be that old.) And if you just lose it altogether, you are allowed a guffaw or two.

None of these offer what I’m looking for. Got laughs?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Double Life by Janette Rallison

Today's guest reviewer is Dylan.

My Double Life by Janette Rallison

Everyone wonders what it is like to be a celebrity for a day.

What a fun book! Any teen would love this story about Elexia, a witty honor student from a poor family, who is a dead ringer for pop star Kari
Kingsley. When Elexia's picture gets posted on the Internet, Kari's manager calls and offers her a job as Kari'
s double. Unbeknown to her fans, Kari is knee deep in debt for gambling and a shopping addiction. And to add into the mix, Kari's father happens to be Elexia's mother's celebrity i

This rags-to-riches story is fun, whimsical, and has a touch of sweet romance. MDL is a
laugh-out-loud ride that keeps you enthralled to the last page. Readers will relate easily to the realistic, likable characters, including the Nazi-ish manager. My Double Life's well thought-out plot is executed smoothl
y like a great movie.

Visit Janette's website.
Visit Dylan's blog.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Today's Smile

Today my young adult children were talking.
Ted: Do kids really believe there are monsters under their beds?
Rex: We always had so much food storage under there that we knew there wasn't room for monsters.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Editing Song

by Joan Sowards
(Tune: Christmas Bells are Ringing)

Editing, editing, here we go!
My manuscript needs shaping.
Finding typos like a pro—
None will be escaping.
Change the words that tell, not show,
Out of point of view, don’t go!
Slice, slice, cut, cut,
Anxious readers waiting!

Editing, editing to refine,
Hoping soon to publish.
Proofing carefully each line,
Delete all the rubbish.
Ousting passive verbs and such,
Adding taste and smell and touch.
Slice, slice, cut, cut,
Publishers are waiting!

Editing, editing page by page,
Ridding repetition,
So the reader will engage
To the tale’s completion.
Dialogue and tenses right,
Ditch the chitchat, make it tight.
Slice, slice, cut, cut,
Bookstore shelves are waiting!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chocolate Roses reviews

"If you haven't read [Jane Eyre], then no problem. It's still a very entertaining read." Valerie Ipson at Of Writerly Things

[This Jane Eyre adaptation is] "handled with a delightfully deft hand that makes this book very hard to put down." JDP News.

I also loved this review at Star Crossed.

"Chocolate Roses hits high marks for being a well-rounded tale with laughter and drama."
-Laurie C Lewis

"What she did right." The Write Blocks

"Chocolate Roses... is fresh and original." Parson's Posts

"Chocolate Roses is a fun read." Annie Speaks Her Mind

"Good Clean LDS romance with intrigue, humor and chocolate." Taffy's Candy

Tristi liked it at Tristi Pinkston

"I wondered, 'How would Joan take [Jane Eyre] and put it into a modern day story? Let's just say, she did a fantastic job.'" LDS Women's Book Review

"This is definitely one I will read again--perhaps on a stormy evening, wrapped up in my quilt, with a box of delicious chocolate close at hand! Kaylee Baldwin

"Mouth watering, and a sweet read." Anna Arnett

"What's not to like about this novel? Go buy it." Writer in the Pines

Joan Sowards "does a brilliant job of paralleling the two stories and making it completely believable." Arizona Forever

"Doesn't the name just tempt you to pick it up?" Tangled Words and Dreams

"It really is a quite creative and fun read." For the Love of the Written Word

"This book could be a chapter out of real life for many twenty-seven year-old single LDS girls." Anna Del C Dye's Blog

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blog Tour Chocolate Roses

Love chocolate?
Love Jane Eyre?
Then you're going to love the blog tour
(July 26-August 6)
for Chocolate Roses by Joan Sowards.

Janie Rose Whitaker’s world revolved around her chocolate shop until Roger Wentworth and his young daughter moved into the apartment across from Janie’s. Anyone would think Roger fit the mold of the “perfect” guy, but soon Janie discovers secrets that could keep them apart forever. Though she resists getting involved in Roger’s complicated life, they are drawn further into a bittersweet relationship.

You will laugh, cry, and crave chocolate as you read this LDS parody of the classic novel
Jane Eyre.

We have two great prizes up for grabs!
Win either a copy of Chocolate Roses (2 winners)
or this fabulous apron created by Joan!

All you have to do is leave a comment
(along with your email address if it isn't on your blog profile)
and answer the following question.

What's your favorite type of
chocolate: white, dark, or milk?

The more blogs you comment on the
more entries you'll receive.
All comments must be left by
midnight MST on August 8 to be eligible.

July 26
Margaret Turley
Nichole Giles--
Joyce DiPastena--JDP News

July 27
Deanne Blackhurst--Annie Speaks Her Mind
Tristi Pinkston--*Tristi Pinkston

July 28
Taffy Lovell--Taffy's Candy
Alison Palmer--Tangled Words and Dreams

July 29
Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen--The Write Blocks
C.S. Bezas--For the Love of the Written Word

July 30
Sheila Stayley--Why Not? Because I Said So!
LDSWomen's Book Review

August 2
Kerry Blair--Now & Here
Marsha Ward--Writer in the Pines

August 3
Kaylee Baldwin--Kaylee Baldwin
Amy Orton--Amesbury Reads

August 4
Anna del C.--Anna del C. Dye's Blog
Laurie Lewis--A View from the Other Side

August 5
Valerie Ipson--Of Writerly Things
Anna Arnett--Insights and Ramblings from Anna Arnett

August 6
Lynn Parsons
Danyelle Ferguson--Queen of the Clan

Chocolate Roses can be purchased
from Deseret Book, Amazon, and of
course your local LDS bookstore.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Author interview!

Walnut Springs Press published an author interview with me on their webpage. Please come visit. There are three photos of my family through the years.

I'm still sad about my music website not working. The problem/glitch has still not been detected. If there is a song you need, email and ask for it (using the address to the
right) and I will email the pdf to you.

Chocolate Rose's blog tour will be starting in two weeks. I am excited! We will give away a copy of the novel and one of my cute homecrafted aprons.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Redemption by Susan Dayley

My guest reviewer today is Kristy Stapley

I loved reading The Story of Jonah, Redemption, or subtitled The Terrible City by Susan Dayley. It captured my attention from the beginning, telling Jonah's life from his childhood to his later years when he met the big fish. It is obvious that Dayley did her research about the cities, travel, geographic layout, and ancient customs.. The story is entertaining, is a good pace, never dragged, and was just the right length.

Honestly, I found Redemption intriguing, yet still an easy read. The author gives believable explanations why Jonah made the choices he did.

This is Susan Dayley's first published novel. I recommend it and look forward to seeing what she will publish in the future.

It is the eighth century BC. No Hebrew will purposely venture into the Assyrian Empire, whose practice of barbarous slaughter casts a shadow of fear over all of Israel. But God calls Jonah, an Israelite prophet, to cry repentance to the evil empire’s capital—the great and terrible city of Nineveh. Fearing the Assyrians and doubting the wisdom of the divine call, Jonah flees in the opposite direction. But in a series of miracles, God gives Jonah a second chance to obey. Journey with Jonah in a wealth-laden ship of Tarshish, hear his prayers inside the belly of a great fish, witness his struggles working in a desert caravan, and feel his terror as he finally arrives in Nineveh. And while Jonah does eventually preach in the great city, the prophet still has some lessons to learn . . . With historically accurate details, Redemption is a story of repentance, trust, and God’s love for all his children.

To learn more about Redemption, and Susan Dayley, visit her blog.

Enter a drawing on June 16, 2010 at Walnut Springs Press to win a free copy of Redemption.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A fun video chock full of good advice for writers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review of Chocolate Roses

Check out this book review of Chocolate Roses on Queen of the Clan.

"I was pleasantly surprised with how well done th
e story was. I loved the quotes from the original Jane Eyre at the beginning of each chapter - it lent a feeling of connection between the classic and the new, and you could see how the modern day Janie felt connected to her
favorite heroine, Jane." -Danyelle Ferguson

I hope you all will read and enjoy Chocolate Roses!

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Arizona Haunted Inn--The Gadsden Hotel

Haunts Haven is about a haunted hotel in southern Arizona. I will be featuring a few in case anyone is traveling through Arizona and would like to visit a real haunted hotel. :-)

The Gadsden Hotel in Douglas has been a favorite destination for ghost hunters for many years. It is one of the last grand hotels. Originally built in 1907, a fire leveled the hotel, but was rebuilt in 1929. The solid white Italian marble stairs pictured on the right survived the fire--the ones that history claims Poncho Villa rode his horse up during the Mexican Revolutionary War.
Tiffany stained glass windows light the second story at the top of these beautiful stairs. This cute furry fellow greats visitors on the landing.
This is a fun hotel to visit, though the ghost aspect hangs heavy on the first time visitors. The hotel has the "quaint" feeling of the past. It has restaurants and beauty parlor.

In one of the banquet rooms, I found this enchanting old Story and Clark piano.

Visit the Gadsden Hotel website and read about their many ghost visitors.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Interview with Laurie Lewis, author of Awakening Avery

Last month, I reviewed Awakening Avery (here) and I am happy to to have this opportunity to interview author Laurie C Lewis today as part of her novel's blog tour. Read yesterday's post below to learn how to win a copy of Awakening Avery.

I love the ocean and am a collector of shells. To honor Awakening Avery's therapeutic tale by the sea, I will be giving away four shells from my collection (separate from the book drawing). To win the shells, leave a comment on this post and become a follower. Winner will be announced on my wedding anniversary, June 12.

Joan: Welcome Laurie! I loved reading Awakening Avery. I found it refreshing and therapeutic. You have several previous novels to your credit. Is there one person in your life that has had the most influence on you to become a writer?

Laurie: I really did it to make my children proud of me and to inspire them to reach for their own dreams. I was a housewife who had to go back to work when my husband lost his job some years ago. Since I never completed my college degree, the jobs I could get were limited. My writing lifted my spirits and reminded me that we are all so much more than the sum of what we do everyday. I wanted my children to know that as well.

Joan: What ideas prompted you to write Awakening Avery?

Laurie: My husband, Tom, suffered a heart-attack seven years ago, (He's fine now!) While riding to the hospital in the ambulance, so many thoughts flooded over me--Who would I be? Where would I go? What would I do if something happened to him? And what would I say to the children? It's every spouse's worst nightmare. That's where the seeds of "Awakening Avery" were sown.

Joan: There are so many fun and touching scenes in Awakening Avery. I laughed out loud in places, and cried in others. What is your favorite part of Avery’s story?

Laurie: I have several favorites--I love the breakfast scene with Avery, Teddie, Rider a
nd Gabriel. It still cracks me up. And I laugh over every scene with Emilia and Gia and the flamingo rug. My favorite tender scenes are probably the letters. I really wanted them to feel real. And I'm partial to George's lines. He's priceless.

Joan: I loved those scenes too. Why did you choose Maryland and Florida for the setting of your story?

Laurie: Wow, good questions! These are two important sites I love and know. I live near Baltimore, and the Inner Harbor area is very familiar. We go there frequently. I fell in love with Anna Maria Island and the Ca d 'Zan over a four year period when we went to Florida each spring to watch our youngest son pitch for Indiana University in an annual tournament at Bradenton. I went back to tour the Ca D'Zan with a notebook and pen to capture the details. I always knew I would set a book in those places.

Joan: I love the ocean and appreciated that you set the story by the sea. What are your feelings about the ocean? Calming? Healing?

Laurie: Yes, both. The sound and smell of water takes me back to my childhood. We camped on a river and we boated in the bay. I feel at peace by flowing water. Anna Maria was a healing place for me. I explain below.

Joan: What advice would you give to unpublished authors desiring to be published?

Laurie: 1. See who is publishing books like the one you want to write and submit or query to them.
2. Strengthen your core skills--vocabulary, grammar, punctuation.
3. Get a notebook and jot down great words, great characters, settings, ideas, dress, etc. Pull from here when you write.
4. Write about something you know or at least love enough to get the details right

Joan: What is something about you that most people don’t know, that you’d like to share?

Laurie: I was a kidney donor for my daughter five years ago. We started the process a year earlier but we ran into a lot of snags as we worked to get me cleared to donate. It was a very emotionally trying time, and it coincided with our trip to Florida. Tom had to return home for work, and I spent most of that week walking the beaches of Anna Maria alone, praying for a miracle, and calling doctors to see if I had been cleared yet. Clearance didn't come during that week, but Anna Maria calmed me and brought me peace at a time when I needed peace desperately.

Amanda gave birth to a beautiful baby boy last year, and she and her husband are expecting a baby girl on July 29th, the fifth anniversary of her transplant. Poetic, isn't it?

Joan: And how good it is to hear she is doing well. What a gift you gave her! Thank you, Laurie, for a great interview.

Visit Laurie's blog and website, .
Laurie is also the author of the Free Men and Dreamers Series Featuring
Volume One: "Dark Sky at Dawn",
Volume Two: "Twilight's Last Gleaming", and
Volume Three: "Dawn's Early Light", due October 2009.
Double Finalist in the National Best Books 2008 Competition
Read the following post to learn how to enter to win a copy of Awakening Avery.