Tag Archives: Reading

Deerbourne Inn Dates: Peggy Chambers

Today I’m talking to Peggy Chambers, author of 2 YA Fantasy Novels, 3 Adult Suspense Novels, 1 Adult Fantasy Novella, and 1 Adult Pulp Fiction novel. She is a contributing author to the Deerbourne Inn series and her book Witches’ Cliff  is out now.

What’s the first book you remember reading on your own as a child, or your favourite childhood read?

I remember the Dick and Jane books from grade school when I first started reading. I loved taking the newspaper my dad always read and picking out words I’d learned at school. My favourite books to read later in grade school were the Nancy Drew series.

What’s your favourite place to write?

I have an over-sized red leather recliner in the guest bedroom that used to belong to my father-in-law. It is too big for me, but immensely comfortable. In the room I am surrounded by family objects: my grandmother’s bed, a small table that belonged to my dad, pictures from my aunt, and a muse in the form of a drawn print from a friend I used to work with. All these things are comforting and inspiring.

What’s the most important lesson you have learned on your writing journey so far?

Keep learning. You can never learn all there is about writing. I love to learn what other writers do and try it in my own writing.

What do you do when you feel stuck?

Like most writers, I get stuck in the middle of the story. I always know how it starts and where it is going. The middle of the story is more difficult. When I get stuck, I write a different section of the story, leave it at the bottom of the manuscript and eventually it will go in the right place.

Writers are readers too. Please recommend a romance you recently read and enjoyed.

I love the Outlander series by Diana Gabledon, but I recently read three romance novellas in the Deerbourne Inn series, Hope’s Dream by Peggy Jaeger, Soul of the Storm by Jean M. Grant, and Lyrical Embrace by Amber Daulton. I highly recommend them – a short read with a powerful story.

What was it that appealed to you about the Deerbourne Inn series?

I love a quaint inn. I’ve never been to Vermont, though it is on my bucket list, but the setting at the inn on Halloween made me think of witches and then the Salem Witch Trials that took place near the area. It made for the perfect backdrop for a story. Also, the Wild Rose Press has some impressive authors in their stable. I wanted to get to know them and be associated with them as people and authors.

What was the inspiration behind Witches’ Cliff?

WitchesCliff_w13159_750I chose the holiday of Halloween because I thought most of the stories would be set at Christmas. As I said, Halloween made me think of witches and I started to research the Salem Witch Trails. The story took off from there.  I don’t write historical novels, so I set it in the present and included a visit from a ghost who knew about the witch trials of Willow Springs.

Tell us about Witches’ Cliff  in 150 words or less.

In 1692 Salem, Massachusetts held the witch trials and many innocent women died. During that same dark time the tiny town of Willow Springs, Vermont had their own slaughter at a local cliff. Penny Winter’s ancestor was one of those witches.

Years later Penny’s mother moved to Salem with her new baby to avoid the long memories of her neighbors. Penny learned the wiccan ways from her mother and became a professor of history at a local university. And then she met Jeff.

With no relatives to depend upon, Penny returns to the town where her grandmother died to seek her opinion of the man who has asked her to marry him. She once again encounters a Willow Springs witch. It’s Halloween and Penny desperately needs to talk to her ancestor before she marries, and it has to be at the cliff where grandma died. But she is not alone.

Do you have an extract you can share with us?

Appearing from nowhere, the elderly woman, in a tattered dark dress stood in the middle of the road.  Her wild hair strung with branches like she had fallen in the forest before stumbling onto the highway.

Swerving to a stop on the side of the road, Penny threw open the door. Jumping from the car she raced back where the woman had been – and stood in the middle of the road turning around.

No one was there.

She spun in a circle three times, searching the woods beside the road for the woman. Where could she have disappeared? The woman was there – Penny saw her. But no one could be found in the area, now.

A horn blasted behind her making Penny jump and twist around.  The semi barrelled down the highway and she leapt out of the way, running for her car.  That was real, and much too close.

“Go home.” The voice whispered in her ear. And once again Penny spun around.

Buy link: https://tinyurl.com/y3fktu44

Where can readers find you online? 

My website is located at http://peggylchambers.wordpress.com/ where I write a weekly blog. You can like me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BraWars, connect with me on Twitter at @ChambersPeggy, or on Instagram at champeggy.

Thanks for stopping by Peggy. I’m intrigued to read Witches’ Cliff and I LOVE your cover.

Deerbourne Inn Dates: Charlotte O’Shay

Today I’m talking to Charlotte O’Shay author of four contemporary romances. She is a contributing author to the Deerbourne Inn series, and her book Forever in a Moment is now available. Check Charlotte’s Events section on her website charlotteoshayauthor.com for all of the stops on her blog tour for this release and her upcoming May 29 release Their No-Strings Affair.

What’s the first book you remember reading on your own as a child?

I was raised on Dr. Seuss. One of my first as a new reader was Green Eggs and Ham which is actually mentioned by my heroine in Forever in a Moment, Samantha who is known as Sam. It was read to her by her father. Fiction and life collide in so many ways!

What is your favorite place to write?

At my desk which is in a cozy corner of the family room. I’ve never tried writing in a coffee shop type place since I need relative quiet.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?

I’ve learned two things that are related:

  1. Strive to stretch, grow and improve as a writer with every
  2. Once the book is out in the world, people may love it or hate it and strangely some people will love the exact thing others hate. No matter. It’s out of your control. Move on to the next and write the best book you can write. Because no one else can write the book you will write.

What do you do when you feel stuck?

I walk, mediate, sometimes I read or reread a book about process. I try to listen and be aware of life around me because the answer is there just waiting for me to notice it.

Please recommend a romance you recently read and enjoyed.

I am working my way through the Deerbourne Inn series. I love them all yet they are all so varied.

I recently read The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker. Wow does she have a way with words.

What was it that appealed to you about the Deerbourne Inn series?

I saw the series as a challenge. Could I write a good book at novella length? Could I write first person POV well? (that was a personal challenge) Could I give life to characters from the series bible and have them realistically interact with my created characters? Could I write a book in a rural setting? I hope I answered all of those in the affirmative.

What was the inspiration behind Forever in a Moment?

We were asked to set our story around a holiday. I chose the days leading up to New Year because I have always found New Year’s Eve and its celebrations have a lot of potential for awkward encounters but maybe also romance. I immediately thought of a fish out of water city woman stuck in small town Vermont for a holiday.

Tell us about Forever in a Moment in 150 words or less.

Here is the blurb:ForeverinaMoment_w13125_300 (2)

A stormy encounter…

Samantha DeMartino’s Christmas wedding is two weeks away when her fiancé calls the whole thing off. Word on the street: his cold feet are being heated by an old flame.

With her well-ordered world in complete disarray, Sam’s friends convince her to go on her honeymoon—alone. A week away from the city and her demanding corporate career at a charming Vermont inn, could be just what she needs to figure out next steps.

Between his twenty-four seven work schedule on his family’s dairy farm and teaching tourists to ski, Jed Armstrong’s too busy to think about how lonely he is…until Sam sings her way into his life during a Christmas snowstorm. Now he has to figure out a way to convince her to stay.

Can a vivacious city girl find forever with a reclusive farmer? Will her secret keep her from trying?

Do you have an extract you can share with us?

“Samantha.”

If his voice were angry or commanding I’d have kept going. But his voice is low and there’s an anguished, guttural quality to the way he says my name. And I won’t have it. I can’t have him thinking anything negative about me after I go.

When I turn, he takes a step toward me and I raise a hand. “Stop…I can’t think when you get too close.” My face heats as those damning words spill out and he chuckles, a genuine laugh and it’s the only one between us today.

“Glad I still amuse you.” I fold my arms across my chest.

“I feel the same way, Sam.”

“Jed, don’t make this tougher,” I say but he keeps speaking in that same harsh voice.

“When I’m near you everything fades away except the need to be closer. Close enough to watch your eyes cloud up when I’m about to kiss you, close enough to hear your breathing get ragged when my hands are on you.”

“Jed, we agreed…”

He shakes his head. “No, I gave in. Because you asked me to. If I had my way, I’d see you all day, every day and… sleep with you every night. I…”

“Stop,” I say. “This, us, whatever this is—can’t happen. I go back to New York in a couple of days.” “Sam, I…”

“No.” I slash my hand through the air. “I don’t know what’s happening to me.” I’m on edge, close to tears at the way I can’t control my response to him. And all my precious logic is eluding me.

He plows a hand through his hair then captures my gaze with his and I can’t look away.

“What’s happening is us. We’re happening. This is our beginning. You and me together. I’d started to think it would never happen. But it did. When I saw you that first night…I knew. And you did too.”

“No.” My denial is swift. “No. I didn’t. It’s not that simple. We hardly know each other…” I lift my chin in spite of the flush I know covers my cheeks. But it’s true, isn’t it? We don’t know each other. I surprise myself when a tear trickles down my cheek and I swipe it fast.

Buy Links

Charlotte O’Shay Social Media Links

 

Virtual Book Tour – Lion Dancing for Love

Fabulous roses Jean Grant and Peggy Jaeger helped me celebrate a publication day for Lion Dancing with Love, in Australian and America. If you’d like to read the posts, you can click on their names for the link. I’m now on tour for the month with Goddess Fish who have put together a fabulous lineup for me. I’d love to see you pop by and say hi if you have the time.

Please note the schedule is US Eastern Standard Time, starting very early in the morning! Thank you to all my hosts – I do hope you are all making use of your schedule buttons!

Here is my schedule:

April 1: Romance Novel Giveaways

April 2: Christine Young

April 3: Straight From the Library

April 4: Edgar’s Books

April 5: The Reading Addict

April 8: T’s Stuff

April 9: Romantic Reviews

April 10: Candrel’s Crafts, Cooks, and Characters

April 11: Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!

April 12: Fabulous and Brunette

April 15: BooksChatter

April 16: Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

April 17: Renee Wildes Weblog

April 18: All the Ups and Downs

April 19: Readeropolis

April 22: Joanne Guidoccio

April 22: Read Your Writes Book Reviews

April 23: Long and Short Reviews

April 24: Kimber Li

April 25: Locks, Hooks and Books

April 26: Viviana MacKade

I’ll update daily with the topic of discussion.

Our Five Favourite Winter Reads

Can you believe it’s July already? This year is running towards the finish at a crazy pace. However, I always make time to read. It’s my safe place, my fun place, and the way I refill my creative well. Here are five five-star romance reads I recommend. At the bottom of my post you’ll find links to the other, very different, recommendations from The Writers Dozen.

July books composite

First up is The Lingerie Wars by Janet Elizabeth Henderson. I fell across this delightful The Lingerie Warsromantic comedy in the best way – as a recommendation from an author newsletter. It’s the first in a new-to-me seven book series set in the small Scottish town of Invertary. Englishman Lake Benson, ex-special forces, is forced to take control of the lingerie shop he helped his sister buy – or watch his life savings go down the drain. The problem is the competition directly across the street run by former model Kirsty Campbell. Lake campaigns for victory with military precision. Kirsty takes a more creative approach. Aided and abetted by a cast of quirky characters, they are each determined to win the right to be the town’s sole lingerie shop. When the sparks fly, all bets are off. The Lingerie Warsis great escapism; funny and silly but with depth in all the right places. I’m slowly reading my way through the entire series.

Stand and DeliverStand and Deliver is the latest book in Rhenna Morgan’s Men of Haven series. I adore this family of self-proclaimed brothers, their two mums and the women they fall in love with. Stand and Deliveris Beckett and Gia’s story. Gia’s a kickass Southern belle who has built a reputation in Beckett’s male-dominated security industry. Beckett knows his brothers have his back. He wants Gia to know that he has hers; that she can let down her guard once in a while. Gia’s afraid of being overwhelmed by Beckett, but when it becomes clear someone is trying to sabotage her professional reputation, she needs to take a chance on letting Beckett guard her back – and her heart. As usual, there is an element of suspense to keep your heart racing. I love all the books in this series. They are dark and dirty but with heart and humour in all the right places. And the covers are drool-worthy.

OMG. I have to confess that before May this year, I had never read a Sarina Bowen novel. SpeakeasyThat’s the bad news. The good news is that there is a Sarina Bowen shaped hole on my bookshelf which I am rapidly filling up. Don’t you love it when you find an author you haven’t read with a great backlist?! Speakeasy is new, book five in her True North series. It’s filled with the fabulous vistas and great organic food of the series’ rural Vermont setting, the backdrop for May and Alec’s story. May Shipley is an alcoholic. Alec Rossi owns and runs a bar. Their families are intertwined on one level, competitors on another. On the surface it’s not a great combination, especially given that May is on the rebound, but Alec makes her feel good and she’s not ready to give him up just yet. Sarina Bowen explores tough contemporary issues such as sexuality and addiction, but she wraps it all up in the warmth and love that is the Shipley family, giving us a vision of what modern life should look like. And the covers are great too.

The Right TrackOn The Right Track is Penelope Janu’s follow up to In at the Deep End. The books can be read as stand-alone novels but are linked by Per and Tor Amundsen, twin Norwegian brothers destined to fall in love with complicated Australian girls. Tor is the hero of On The Right Track. He’s a diplomat (read spy) investigating murky dealings in the world of horse racing, which brings him into Golden Saunders orbit. Tor is casting aspersions on the reputation of her grandfather, and Golden doesn’t want anything to do with him – or the chaos his appearance creates in her small but manageable circle. However, Tor falls fast for the combination of fragility and fierceness that is Golden. Can Tor persuade her to extend her boundaries? Can Golden take another risk on the world? Penelope Janu’s books are funny, heartfelt, tender and beautifully descriptive. I love them.

I didn’t however, love the cover for On the Right Track. It’s pretty enough but it’s deceptive. A large property two hours from the heart of Sydney does not a rural/country romance make, especially when fifty percent of the action takes place in the city suburbs. It is also so different to the cover for In at The Deep Endthat readers would be forgiven for thinking that there is no connection between the two books and that, indeed, they are in different genres. Nothing could be further from the truth. The publisher has done their author a disservice. Hopefully readers will not be distracted. I recommend both books.

Shadow Keeper is book three in my favourite Christine Feehan paranormal series, The Shadow KeeperShadow Riders. The Ferraro family of Chicago dispenses justice when the law cannot. However, business and family cannot be separated, making it hard for the Ferraros to find love, especially when their life partner must also be a shadow rider, someone with the potential to both read and ride shadows. Giovanni is on the Ferraro equivalent of desk duty, forbidden to ride the shadows until his leg is healed. He’s sick of his role as a playboy, but then he meets Sasha, a warm-hearted, smart and sassy country girl with a shadow that reaches out and touches his. She thinks she’s tough. She thinks she can look after her brother and herself. But the predators in Chicago are not as easy to fight off as the ones on the family farm. Giovanni must overcome the initial bad impression he made and persuade Sasha to trust him – and love him. Gritty, edgy and magical romance.

For more recommendations:

 

Diversity in Romance: US report finds only 7.8% of romance titles by people of colour

Diversity in romance is a hot topic at the moment. It’s fuelled by questions around cultural identity and sales.

Who has the right to create characters from different backgrounds? On the one hand, no one is better positioned to write a character with, say, an African American background than an African American. On the other hand, taken to extremes, that argument would mean no Othello, no Ophelia and no romance heroes with their own POV, at least not when written by female writers. And does this mean that a writer from an Asian background can’t write Regency Romance, even if she wants to? And what does it mean about aliens and shape-shifters? The world would be a much duller place if writers only wrote what they knew.

There is also, of course, the issue of unrepresented minorities in history. We think of medieval Britain as an island predominantly populated by white people, but what of the descendants of the African Roman soldiers stationed along Hadrian’s Wall before the collapse of the Roman Empire?

Then there is the thorny issue of sales. Which comes first, the demand or the story? I’m inclined to favour the perspective that the way forward is to ensure diversity within publishing houses. If editors and publishers have diverse interests and backgrounds, they will find those great books which have universal appeal regardless of the cultural identity, nationality or race of the characters.

The publishing industry certainly isn’t there yet. Bookseller and Publisher covered an 2rippedbodicereport2016Entertainment Weekly story on The Ripped Bodice’s report on the racial diversity of romance publishing in the US during 2016. The Ripped Bodice is a romance specialist bookstore. They found that only 7.8% of romance titles published were written by people of colour. ‘People of colour’ is a broadly descriptive term that not all writers of non-Anglo Saxon heritage will identify with. However, given that US census figures indicate that up to 28% of the American population identifies as either black or Hispanic, the diversity book is clearly not balanced.

Half of the 20 publishers surveyed had fewer than five percent of their books authored by people of colour, and only three publishers had at least 10% of their books authored by people of colour.

The report co-authors and owners of The Ripped Bodice, Leah and Bea Koch, said they were motivated to conduct the study ‘because they often found themselves short of options when customers come in looking for traditionally published books by authors of color’.

‘We have found it difficult to continue the conversation about diversity in romance without hard data,’ said the Kochs. ‘For many years the common refrain from publishers has been “we’re working on it.” Every year we will track industry growth and see if that promise rings true.’

The report notes that all of the publishers mentioned were invited to contribute statistics to the study. More than half engaged directly, with the missing data gathered from publisher and distributor websites.

I think this is an excellent initiative by The Ripped Bodice. I’m also giving a shout-out to all those publishers who participated willingly and all the indie authors who publish diverse romance but weren’t covered by this study. The more we talk, the more answers and solutions we’ll create and the more great romances we will have to read.

Australia has a very diverse, multicultural society. It would be interesting to see a similar study done here. I suspect the numbers would not look much better although I do know many publishers who actively hunt for and publish magnificent stories by individuals from marginalised or misunderstood groups, whether because of their cultural background, sexual preferences or other factors.

If you’re looking for a reading list of diverse authors and characters, try one of these four books, or have a browse on GoodReads, where there are many recommended book lists complete with comments.

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The history and practice of bibliotherapy

Novelist Ceridwen Dovey has written a fascinating article on bibliotherapy for The New Yorker. She asks Can Reading Make You Happier (of course) and then talks us through the science of why the answer is ‘of course’.

It starts:

Several years ago, I was given as a gift a remote session with a bibliotherapist at the London headquarters of the School of Life, which offers innovative courses to help people deal with the daily emotional challenges of existence. I have to admit that at first I didn’t really like the idea of being given a reading “prescription.” I’ve generally preferred to mimic Virginia Woolf’s passionate commitment to serendipity in my personal reading discoveries, delighting not only in the books themselves but in the randomly meaningful nature of how I came upon them (on the bus after a breakup, in a backpackers’ hostel in Damascus, or in the dark library stacks at graduate school, while browsing instead of studying). I’ve long been wary of the peculiar evangelism of certain readers: You must read this, they say, thrusting a book into your hands with a beatific gleam in their eyes, with no allowance for the fact that books mean different things to people—or different things to the same person—at various points in our lives. I loved John Updike’s stories about the Maples in my twenties, for example, and hate them in my thirties, and I’m not even exactly sure why.

Read the full article here

SPEED-READING INEFFICIENT

I call them ‘Well, duh’ studies. The research academics have to undertake to prove what anyone with a grain of knowledge and a sprinkling of common sense knew already. This one is about the benefits of speed-reading.

With the information overload that we now all suffer from, the appeal of speed-reading is understandable. Traditionally, it promises faster reading times and greater recall and understanding of the text. However, according to a recent review of the actual science published in Psychology Science in the Public Interest, speed-reading is not the answer the panacea it is sold as.

Elizabeth Schotter, a psychologist at the University of California-San Diego, and one of the study’s authors, says, ‘The available scientific evidence demonstrates that there is a trade-off between speed and accuracy—as readers spend less time on the material, they necessarily will have a poorer understanding of it.’ (well, duh moment #1).

According to the Association for Psychological Science, it’s not about reading faster, but about learning to figure out what’s important to read (well, duh moment #2). In reviewing the scientific research, they said that it proves that the biggest obstacle isn’t our vision but rather our ability to recognize words and process how they combine to make meaningful sentences

In their article they say, ‘Reading is a complex dance among various visual and mental processes, and research shows that skilled readers already read quickly, averaging 200 to 400 words per minute. Some speed-reading technologies claim to offer an additional boost by eliminating the need to make eye movements by presenting words rapidly in the center of a computer screen or mobile device, with each new word replacing the previous word. The problem, Schotter and her colleagues find, is eye movements account for no more than ten percent of the overall time we spend reading. Eliminating the ability to go back and reread previous words and sentences tends to make overall comprehension worse, not better.’

Ms Schotter says there is no quick fix. She and her team agree that the one thing that can help boost overall reading ability, science shows, is practicing reading for comprehension. Greater exposure to writing in all its different forms provides us with a larger and richer vocabulary, as well as the contextual experience that can help us anticipate upcoming words and make inferences regarding the meaning of words or phrases we don’t immediately recognize.

So, keep reading. It’s good for you. But you already knew that. J

You can read the full report at your own pace – if you have the time.