Monday, January 28, 2013

The End of a Tour is Happy and Sad

This week is the final week in my virtual book tour for Healing Notes. with GoddessFish Book Tours. It's hard to believe it's been going on for three months, and that the coordinators at GoddessFish have been able to keep on top of over 80 tour stops for me across three tours.  They are remarkable!

I'd love for you to stop by and say your final goodbyes to me on tour, or to leave a comment about your experience with reading either Undertones or Healing Notes

The final stop is with Reader Girls. Drop by and say Hi and enter one last time in the drawing. The $25 gift card will be drawn on Friday. Each comment that has been made on a blog during the tour has received one entry.  So, you have three more days to get your final comments in.

Now that the end has come, it is with a combination of happiness and sadness that I will say goodbye. When I saw the pictureabove, it spoke to me about my book and about my tour.  I do believe that a happy ending is most satisfying when the journey of the protagonists has been especially difficult.  That is certainly the case for Rachel and Noel in Healing Notes.  In life, that is often the case for me too.

For me, my journey not only with writing and publishing the book, but with the virtual book tour has also been a story in itself. This is the first time I've written a second book in a series. I was truly afraid it wouldn't work out very well, and it tested me and my writing at every step.  I also knew I was tackling a difficult but important subject: rape recovery.  I was fearful that no one would pick up the book because of that topic. It is something every woman fears, and yet most of us avoid reading about it.  Because of my own experience with rape, it was a hard book to write. There were many days when I struggled with going into Rachel's emotions. I really didn't want to give her more pain, yet I knew I had to be honest in her journey or the happily ever after would not be as satisfying. In the end, it appears the book is being read, and even more than that it is being reviewed well. My energy through the three months of the tour has remained very high because of all the new readers I've met and how much they've shared their views with me and what the book has meant to them. 

Crossing the boundaries of romance and women's fiction, while exploring difficult themes is not something I set out to do. It just seems to come out of me naturally in all of my books, and my characters agree.  So, thank you to everyone who has made the journey with Rachel and Noel, AND me.

Though I will miss the attention to the book and to the Sweetwater Canyon series that the last three months have given me, I am also happy for the tour to be at an end so that my full concentration can go into writing my next books.  One of the amazing things about being a writer is that I learn new things about my craft with each book. It is exciting to be working on the next book and the next, because I know it is even better written than the last.

At a book signing recently, a reader asked: "Which one is your best book? That is the one I want to buy."  I shuddered a bit before giving my answer, knowing that she would only buy one and that my answer might lead her to believe my other books were not very good.  However, I had to answer honestly.  "My best book is always the last book I've written, because I learn with each one."  Looking back, I wish I would have added that I do believe that every book I've published is good or I wouldn't have published it. 

I do have four completed books that will never be published because they will never be good enough. That is why I feel confident in saying the books that have been published are good. I'm not saying they are amazing or the best thing ever written. That is for reader's to decide. So far, the reviews are good for each of my books.  I can only hope that continues to be the case.

I love the sentiment in the image here. It is true in my books and it is true in my life. Through every step of my journey in life there have been challenges when I thought I would never be happy again.  Every time I was wrong. With faith and hope, and the help of loving people around me, I moved forward.

I hope that is the case for my readers as well. Keep trying! Surround yourself with those people who reinforce how wonderful you are. Read those books that help you with your own journey and give you hope.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The 1920's Clash and Roar in Songbird with the Sapphire Eyes

Today I am interviewing Anna Brentwood and reviewing her historical novel, The Songbird with Sapphire Eyes.


In 1918, Kansas City is Sin City.     

Forced to leave home at age fourteen, beautiful Hannah Glidden struggles to survive. With help from her childhood friend, Meg--mistress to a wealthy married man-- and her roommate, the irrepressible, flapper extraordinaire, Rosie, Hannah thrives as a cabaret singer.

The early 20’s roared. Fortunes were made or lost in a single night, and criminals mingled with kings. Neither the government nor Prohibition could stop the flow of alcohol or the lure of the “good life.” Handsome rum runner Johnny Gallo is part of New York's large, growing criminal empire where the sky is the limit. The ruthless Gallo has a knack for knowing the right people, and a single-minded devotion to getting what he wants. And, he wants Hannah.


This is a novel I would have never picked up on my own for three reasons: 1) It's a historical novel, and not necessarily a romance; 2) The cover, though lovely, didn't draw me in because of the cigar on the front. I hate cigars; and 3) It is the author's first novel and that is always a crapshoot of an investment.

However, I am soooooo glad I picked it up at a book signing.  Anna Brentwood has a true gift with dialog.  I could hear the accents, the slang, the differences between character's background from the first page. In addition, her ability to capture the sights, sounds, and smells of the city makes the story play like a movie in your head. To understand the clash of cultures, the disdain for tradition, and deep desire for freedom from the past, you need to see the 1920's from the perspective of the working woman (from farm women to entertainers, mistresses, and prostitutes). This book will provide that in heart-wrenching detail.

Haunting in the heroine's painful, tragic movement toward an inevitable end, The Songbird with Sapphire Eyes is a poignant tale of obsession set against the background of a changing world. This novel is both a gripping historical and a study of the juxtaposition of freedoms and constraints placed on women in the roaring 1920's as the country marched toward modernity while simultaneously holding tight to the past, and corruption warred with good intentions.

The reader experiences this turbulent time in American history through the eyes of Brentwood's main character, Hannah Glidden. From the age of 14, when she leaves home, to the young age of 24, Hannah navigates the changing culture and economics in a way that young women without means often did, sleeping her way to the top. We follow Hannah from the crushing indebtedness of a rural Missouri farm to the cities of newly minted millionaires who dance alongside gangsters and mob leaders in Kansas City, Chicago, and New York.

While Hannah's life represents all the excess and riches of the 1920's we read about and see in movies, it also represents the divisive contrast for the majority of Americans. The entire decade of the 1920s was a time of poverty and crushing indebtedness for most of rural America, leading to foreclosures of many family farms. More than 90% of American farms lacked electricity, and the proportion of farms with access to a telephone actually decreased over the course of the decade. This was Hannah's background--a harsh, unforgiving, upbringing that includes incest and thus a confused and jaded understanding of sex and love which puts her on her journey.

Running from her difficult childhood, Hannah embraces the modern urban culture of freedom—drinking illegally and in significant amounts, dancing provocatively, and singing to the sensuous rhythms of jazz, while searching for material things to show she has made it in the world. Like Daisy Buchannan for Gatsby, gangster Johnny Gallo invests Hannah with an idealistic perfection that she cannot possibly attain in reality. Despite major flaws in both of their characters, he pursues her with a passionate zeal that blinds both of them to their own limitations. Like Roxie Hart in Chicago, Hannah comes from nothing but wants everything. She barely thinks twice about hooking up with a known gangster and being in the presence of big mob bosses like Lucky Luciana, Al Capone, Bugs Moran, or Sam Maceo. She eschews love for sex, pursues material comforts in exchange for morality, and consistently chooses to put on blinders to what is happening around her in the name of freedom and independence.

This is the type of book you know cannot end well, but you can't put it down. It is so well written that I truly believe Hollywood would be remiss not to option it for a film.  Huge congratulations to Anna Brentwood's debut novel. She has penned an amazing and realistic story, where she did not once bow to sentiment, push for the happy ending, or try to make light of the choices some women made in that era.

Paperback Buy Links:  Jan's Paperbacks | Jacobsen's Books |Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ebook Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble 


What are your roots?

On my mother’s side, I am third generation American w/Russian, Rumanian, English, German and Jewish ancestors. On my father’s, I am second generation Russian/Ukraine. I grew up on the East Coast in West Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs before moving to Southern California in 1978. I was there until I moved to Oregon in 1995.

Has your own family story impacted your writing at all?

 Growing up back East amongst a mix of ethnically diverse people: Jewish, Italian, Irish, African American, etc., in the early 60’s and 70’s, makes my life experience very rich and full of great material. It was almost by today’s standards an alternate Universe, but I was surrounded by close knit family, neighbors and friends, and that definitely adds to who I am. However, as far as influencing my writing, I would have to say it was my husband’s support early on when I decided I wanted to write professionally; and the fact that he made it possible for me to do so that made the most impact.  

How do you describe yourself as a writer?

Intense. I consider myself a method writer in that I immerse myself in my characters heads and world to the point in which it leaks over into my everyday life. Immersion plus research and historical detail is important to me both as a reader and a writer and I stick close to truth whenever possible. I spend an excessive amount of time on research, probably more than I need to but I love it. This passion allows me to totally understand my characters world. They become very real to me and, while I am writing fiction, the lines do blur but I always make an effort to stick as close to truth whenever possible. 

Though there was a romance of sorts in this book, from a genre perspective this would be considered a historical novel, similar to the types of novels Megan Chance writes.  Is this the genre you expect to write in moving forward?

Yes, for the present time, I am sticking with historical and I am already working on a sequel to The Songbird With Sapphire Eyes.  The sequel takes place in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
My goal as an author is to write bout interesting characters in real life situations where I, as well as readers, can always learn something new. I expect that to always remain the same. However, I probably will not lock myself into any one genre exclusively because part of the process and enjoyment of writing for me is the continual learning and the constant challenge to expand my own understanding.

Why was it important for you to write this particular novel?

Hannah's story was unique in that it came to me in a sequence of dreams that were so real they haunted me. Then, she did. Despite time and obstacles along the way, I remained compelled to explore and understand the dreams and experiences I was having and in doing so, finally after many years, wrote The Songbird with Sapphire Eyes. I think Hannah wanted her story told mostly because as human beings, though we all live unique lives, we all die and death troubles us. I learned a lot form her, but most importantly to believe in possibilities and to hope that death isn't necessarily an ending, but quite possibly a new beginning.


What was hard for you in writing this novel?
Everything! Taking this on and deciding I had to write it and get it published was probably the hardest thing I ever did. Also, one of the longest single projects I ever worked on. While writing and being creative always nurtures your soul, this particular book was my masters and doctorate all wrapped into one. The process of being a writer and then choosing to write a novel and have it published can only be likened to being kicked to the ground, getting up repeatedly and then hopping onto a roller coaster. The price of admission was vats of blood, sweat and tears, passion, heartache, desire, frustration and an ability to withstand high highs and low lows and still want to keep on going…otherwise called a masochist.
Are there themes that recur in your work?

Yes, the influence of society, family, friends and relationships and the importance of listening to your heart and having the courage to follow through with your ethics and your dreams no matter where they take you. 

What are you working on now?

The sequel to The Songbird With The Sapphire Eyes, which will take readers on a journey through the 1940’s with Johnny Gallo’s son; wartime hero, playboy and New York mobster, Anthony Gallo.

What would you like to write in the future?

I personally read a diverse amount of genres that predominantly include suspense, mystery, historical and paranormal and I always love a good romance so after I finish writing the sequel I am working on now, I am planning a book that will blend some modern history (70’s-80’s) with all or some of the different elements and genres listed above. So please stay tuned!  

If you had to give one piece of advice to women who are searching for something more in their relationships, what would it be?

Find someone who can be many things to you, for whom the good outweighs the bad, someone you can laugh with, cry with and curse with, Someone who can be kind but also a rock but mostly someone who will always be your friend no matter what. 

This is one heck of a book!  I truly recommend it to my readers and anyone who has a fascination with the roaring 20's and the complex, interwoven lives of the people who lived through it.

About Anna Brentwood

Anna (which is her real first name) was a bookworm almost since birth. She is inspired to write about interesting characters whose lives take them on journeys we can all enjoy and perhaps learn something meaningful from.  

Anna grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Philadelphia’s, University of the Arts where she majored in Illustration. She pursued a successful and versatile career in children’s book illustration, graphic arts, publications and public relations in Southern California before being lured to the Oregon wilderness by her desire to write and her former-Navy Seal husband. 

Moving to Oregon in 1995 with her spouse and two young children at that time, aged five and eight, she began pursuing her dreams to write  professionally while at the same time adjusting to "country" life. 

A wife, a mother, and doting grandmother of two,Anna lives in a log home on 45 wooded acres on Oregon’s coast range with her former Navy-Seal husband and a menagerie of animals that include one pug, one cat, one horse, two wolf-hybrids, a red-tailed hawk named Lucky and a feisty but lovable African grey parrot named Warlock.

Contact Anna:  website | facebook | twitter

Monday, January 21, 2013

Celtic Music Influences

Do you love Celtic music, even when it's not St. Patrick's Day?  Celtic Music is a part of my Sweetwater Canyon series of books and I am blogging about it at Harlie's Books today.  I am also being interviewed at Lisa Haselton's Reviews regarding the second book in the Sweetwater Canyon series, Healing Notes.

My husband and I were married at Castle House in Dunnon, Scotland and honeymooned in the highlands of Scotland and Ireland. During our time there, we attended many traditional music "sessions."  These are music events where a flyer is posted around town and email is sent to area locals for any musicians who wish to show up on a particular night and bring their instruments.

Though most of the instruments are traditional--guitar, fiddle, pipes, bohdran (celtic drum), etc. You are not limited to that. The sessions typically are scheduled on a weekday evening, as weekends are reserved for paid musicians. At one session we encountered a clarinet. At another a digiridoo.  It is amazing how the sounds still blend into the traditional Celtic music.

One of my favorite places in our journey was a small fishing and shipping town in the highlands of Scotland, called Ullapool.  Though the population was only about 1,000, (I'm not sure what it is now) it had music in every pub (4 or 5 places within walking distance of our B&B) ranging from traditional to rock and roll.  Some of my favorite Ceilidh's and sessions were in Ullapool.  As with the traditional sessions we found everywhere, anyone was welcome to join and the pub spotted at least one beer to each musician.

I'll also never forget the band playing Allman Brother's songs, with the lead guitarist and singer dressed in a kilt. The band was pretty faithful to the music, but the look of them made me think I had traveled to a parallel universe.

Do take a moment to stop by the two blogs hosting me today. 

After this week, there is only one more stop on the Healing Notes book tour.  So, I am hoping to close it out with lots of visitors.

A Day of Connections

Today our country celebrates the inauguration of President Barack Obama for a second term.  I hope you join me in holding him, his family, and our country in thought and prayer as he enters his second term of office.

Though I am not in Washington D.C. for the celebration I still feel a special connection to the events. I lived in the D.C. area (northern Virginia) for 8 years during the 1980's. My husband lived there even longer, before we met. Both of our grown sons live and work in D.C. now.  Our youngest is a Capital Police Officer and he is likely pulling duty on the mall today or late last night and into the morning hours.

In addition to the personal and family connections, I feel a connection to the events because every time a President is elected and inaugurated we show the world that we can pass leadership without bloodshed.  As I look at the difficulties around the world in countries where leadership is wrested from those in charge through military coups or keep those in charge through killing their own people, I am so very glad that I live in America where we uphold our elected officials even when not everyone in the country didn't vote for the winner.  That is the American way, the democratic way, and I am always proud of it.

Today, I am praying for insight for all of our leaders--from the local boards and city representatives to congress and the President. I am praying for a renewed commitment to find ways to work together for the good of all Americans. That work takes compromise on both sides. It's never easy but it is the only way we move forward. I hope you will join me.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Featuring TJ Brown and Summerset Abbey

Today I am featuring the FABULOUS T. J. Brown.  I've known Teri for about eight years and I am super proud of this new series she is releasing on January 15th, Summerset Abbey.  If you love Downton Abbey on TV, you will be crazy about Summerset Abbey. If you love historicals you will be crazy about Summerset Abbey.  Especially if you love the Edwardian period at the dawn of World War I, you will want to order the entire series as quickly as possible. Already it has done SO well that the publisher has gone back for a second printing before the book is even released!  So, you better get on the bandwagon and order your copy soon. I'm not sure there will be any left even after the second printing!

Here's her "official" bio:

TJ Brown is passionate about books, writing, history, dachshunds and mojitos. If she could go back in time, she would have traveled back to England 1910, Paris 1927 or Haight-Ashbury 1967. She resides in the burbs of Portlandia, where she appreciates the weirdness, the microbreweries, hoodies, Voodoo Donuts and the rain.

Now let's get down to the real TJ Brown and ask a few probing questions.


What are your roots?
On one hand I’m a Hines 57… My father’s family is all sorts of everything, including native American. My mother’s family  are  the American branch of the Peckhams from England and we can trace our family back to the twelfth century. My grandmother was an anglophile and whenever I went to see Grandma, I was treated to James Herriot,  Masterpiece Theater and  Lord Byron.

Has your own family story impacted your writing at all?
I believe it has.  My grandmother loved historicals set in England. The time didn’t matter and she read medievals  all the way up to WW1... as long as it was set in England. I would visit her for several weeks every summer and we spent hours reading together. I think this was definitely an influence on the Summerset Abbey series. Writing about England seems very natural to me.   

How do you describe yourself as a writer?
I’m an impatient writer! I tend to rush through scenes and then have to go back and dig deeper.  I always know when I have hurried a scene or an ending because my editors will come back and ask me to go deeper.

What do you think is the special power of the genres you write in?
Wow… that is a toughie. Do genres have different powers? Like in an X-man kind of way? Ha! No, I think that historical adult/new adult and historical YA have the same power that all genres have—the power of story. The power to take someone and transport them into another person’s world. That’s pretty powerful.  

Why was it important for you to write this particular novel?
I’m published in contemporary young adult and recently sold a historical young adult.  I loved writing my YA historical, but I think once I started writing the adult historical, I realized that historical fiction is really where I’m supposed to be. It felt right and convinced me that I’m on the right track.

What was hard for you in writing this novel?
So many things! I was very ill while writing Summerset Abbey and that made day to day writing very challenging.  I didn’t have a lot of time to write it which made research a bit difficult, so I hired a fact checker and research guru. When things get hard, you just roll with the punches and figure out how to work through it.

Are there themes that recur in your work?
Definitely. My main theme is always fish out of water. This surprises no one who knows me!

What are you working on now?
I am working on Summerset Three, my second historical YA, and I just pitched a novella that I hope I get a chance to write.

What would you like to write in the future?
More historicals! I have an idea for another Edwardian series set in India as well as a historical YA series set in France. Ideas aren’t the problem… time is!

If you had to give one piece of advice to women who are searching for something more in their relationships, what would it be? 
Don’t sweat the small stuff. No, really.  When it comes right down to it, relationships are everything and the little things that bug you really aren’t worth dwelling on. So often we find ourselves focusing on minutia, instead of focusing on the good stuff.  Every day we spend with our loved ones is a day we can be grateful for.

TJ Brown on the Internet: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

I can tell you that TJ is a special person. You will want to spend lots of time getting to know her and her books.

* * * Contest and Giveaway * * *

Teri  is running a Preorder Contest! In celebration of the launch of SUMMERSET ABBEY, the first in a trilogy, Teri  is holding a book lovers contest.  And get this; the prize is your choice of one of the following: a  Kindle Fire, A Nook HD, or a Kobo Vox!

All you have to do to enter is pre-order SUMMSERSET ABBEY through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, or through your local independent bookstore and then forward the e-receipt to: Teri(at)

Contest runs from January 3rd through January 14th.

Winner will be chosen at random and announced on January 15th, the day Summerset Abbey comes out!

Is that an awesome way to celebrate or what?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Come On Everybody Here We Go!

My favorite ride at Disneyland as a kid was the Peter Pan Ride and it always started with a light (I think it was Tinkerbell) leading the way as Peter Pan said: "Come on everybody here we gooooooo." Then the boat magically lifts into the air and you view the lights of the city below.

That is how I feel on this final day of our RESOLVE 2013 tour.  I am ready to take off and fly!

I owe a huge debt of thanks to my eight wonderful author friends who provided their advice and their own resolutions around taking a vacation, I am now as resolute as ever to make this work in 2013.  I also thank every one who followed the blogs and offered their experience as well.  I feel truly supported in this resolution.

I began my resolution to take a vacation because over the past two years my husband and I have not managed to take a vacation just for us.  That doesn't mean we haven't gone anywhere because we have.  In 2011 our oldest son got married and we traveled back east to Virginia to celebrate with him. In 2012 our oldest son graduated from law school and again we traveled back east to celebrate with him.  Though we enjoyed both trips, connecting with friends and family, celebrating these wonderful life events with our son, they weren't really vacations just for the two of us where we could escape our daily life and responsibilities.

For the past two years I've been hoping to go to Hawaii.  Though I have been there on business four or five times in the past two decades, I have never taken the time to really explore the islands like I would like. In addition, my husband--who has seen must of Europe and Africa--has never been to Hawaii. It is on his bucket list, both for the history of the native Hawaiians and the WWII museums. He also wants to see the many variations of each island.

Both 2011 and 2012 found us in job and home moving transitions. Coupled with traveling east for family celebrations, both money and time were in short supply to take that Hawaiian vacation over the past two years.So, here it is 2013 and I'm still unsure if we will make it happen.

This year our youngest son is getting married in Pennsylvania.  Yay!!! As in 2012, money and job opportunities continue to be tight. It is unlikely our 2-3 week vacation in Hawaii is in the cards this year either.  However, I will certainly take the advice of my author friends and still "take a vacation" in 2013.  I will:

  • Take advantage of the beautiful free and low cost opportunities right here in the great state of Oregon
  • Make time for frequent weekend holidays together--whether at home with the computer and TV off or for a day trip hiking on the coast or in the mountains.

In the mean time, I'll keep dreaming and planning for when we can get to Hawaii in 2014 or maybe 2015. I am confident we will get there, and when we do it will be magnificent!

I'm dreaming of hiking the volcanoes, dancing in the sunrise or sunset, diving with the fish and swimming with other sea life, and breathing in all the beauty each island has to offer. 


Thank you for sticking with us for nine days and participating in the Resolution Tour. I hope you have had the opportunity to get to know each of the authors better, and perhaps you have gained some useful advice for your own New Year's Resolutions.

I ask that you would visit each blog one more time (see the links below).  If you haven't already, please consider becoming a GoodReads FAN of each of the wonderful authors who have been part of this tour.  Becoming a FAN is different from simply being a FRIEND in GoodReads.  Friends get to see the books the authors are reading and reviewing.  But a FAN means you will always get their updates, blog posts, be the first to learn about giveaways, contests, and new opportunities to get advance review copies of books.  None of us are spammers, so do consider becoming a FAN.

Special Secret Prize

The $25 gift card will be drawn Friday night from all the commenters. As a reward for anyone who has commented here on my blog each of the nine days of the 2013 Resolution Tour, you have a special secret prize coming your way. Watch your email for a gift option.  I REALLY do appreciate you and your support!

Happy New Year! See you around the web!

Maggie on the Web: Maggie Jaimeson | Maggie Faire | GoodReads | Facebook | Twitter

THE RESOLUTION TOUR - January 1 - 9, 2013

Away from the Spotlight by Tamara Carlisle

Today I'm featuring and doing a review of the book Away from the Spotlight by Tamara Carlisle. This is a sweet romance with a lot of interesting life challenges along the way.


In the closing weeks of law school, Shannon Sutherland meets handsome and charming Englishman Will MacKenzie. Initially swept off her feet, Shannon finds that Will has a secret that, once discovered and the consequences realized, could destroy their fledgling relationship. Will and Shannon take great pains to have a normal relationship but, ultimately, find it impossible to do so. Will the pressures of their careers and the temptations of others drive Will and Shannon apart? Can Will and Shannon live a happy life away from the spotlight?


“What was that in there?  You know those are Will’s friends.”

“I know.”

“Will is my boyfriend.  You shouldn’t be doing things like that and particularly not in front of his friends.”

“Which is it that bothers you: that I was holding your hand or that Will’s friends might see?”


“I’m not sorry.  I need your friendship right now.  Anyway, isn’t that what friends do?”

“We’re not five-years-old.  At our age, no, it’s not what friends do.”

“Don’t be mad.  I’m sorry.  I can behave myself.”

“Can you?  Because I don’t know if we can be friends if you can’t.”

A pained look crossed John’s face.  “Yes, I can behave myself.  Please.”  We were silent as we continued to walk to my car.  As we approached my car, John asked, “Uh, can you give me a ride back to Max’s?  Because my car’s there and I’m kind of stranded.”

I rolled by eyes and grimaced.  “Get in.”


This book caught my eye because it had two things that always interest me: 1) a protagonist in law school or who has been an attorney; and 2) an Englishman. My eldest son is an attorney, and every Englishman I've known has been a wonderful gentleman and a friend. How could I go wrong with the book?

This is a sweet romance written primarily for what I would call the "new adult" market.  It follows the overwhelming romance of Shannon and Will from the time they meet, when she is in her last year of law school, through both of their deaths.  I have mixed feelings about the book.  On the one hand, it is sweet and kind and I liked the idea of finding a soul mate that is truly a part of your life forever.  On the other hand, much of the story is told as a combination of travel journal, diary, and phone texts. There were many parts of the story I felt could have been left out, and other places I felt needed to be more developed. I didn't personally care for the development of the story in the last 40 pages or so. But that is more of a personal preference. Some will probably like the fact that the author chose to play out Shannon's entire life.

In the end what kept me going was the love story between Shannon and Will and the cast of supporting characters in their friends on both sides. If you are looking for a more traditional novel with tight action and emotion and a more typical demarcation of the romance story, then you will probably feel this goes on too long and doesn't provide enough to keep you satisfied.  However, if you want something sweet, kind, and in a format that is more akin to your best friend writing you of her travels and life over about 50 years, particularly the all consuming love of her life, then you will like this book and finish it with a big smile.

Buy the book:  Barnes & Noble | Amazon


Tamara Carlisle is a former attorney and business consultant.  Away from the Spotlight is her first published work of fiction.  She currently is working on two additional novels:  one is about love in the music industry and the other is a work of paranormal fiction.  Tamara currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her British husband and daughter.  

Contact Tamara: * Website * Facebook * Twitter * GoodReads *
Shelfari * Library Thing *

* * *  GIVEAWAY * * *

 Tamara will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  So, do take a moment to say Hi and make a comment. You will also want to follow the tour in order to have more opportunities to comment and get more entries to win the prize. 

Tour Stops

January 7:  DanaSquare
January 8:  SnifferWalk
January 8:  STOP 2  Harlie's Book Blog
January 9:  Maggie's Meanderings (You are Here!)
January 10:  My Reading Obsession
January 10:  STOP 2  Journey with Books
January 11:  The Bunny's Review
January 14:  Kate Patrick...unlock your fantasies
January 15:  My Devotional Thoughts
January 16:  Wicked Readings By Tawania
January 17:  The Brunette Librarian

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Resolve 2013: My Great Escape

We are 8 days into the 2013 Resolution Tour.  Today I'm guest blogging for Jamie Brazil on how to shrink her closet.  So, please welcome Jessa Slade to my blog today to help me take a vacation in 2013.

Jessa Slade writes paranormal romance and SF romance. Her most popular series is the Marked Souls series she did with NY Publisher Signet.  Currently, she has a novella she wrote for Christmas, The Darkest Night, that relates to the Marked Souls world.  If you haven't already read this new part of the series, be sure to check it out. It's excellent.

Resolve 2013: My Great Escape

Jessa Slade
The Darkest Night (A Marked Souls Christmas novella) 

I didn't go camping last year and the lack of dirt time makes me sad. Years ago, I actually took a two-week vacation with my XY and dog, camping our way through Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Nevada. Oh wow… If you’ve never done a full two weeks off (despite the fact that the “two-week vacation” is an American stereotype, I think most people never get to experience it) I highly recommend it. It took about three days to turn off my brain, but by the second week, I realized I hadn’t had a coherent thought in days. It was wonderful! I also hadn’t bathed in days, but whatever :)

As a writer, I live a very active life…in my head. The chance to get out of my head and into my body isn’t just a luxury; I believe it’s a necessity. I NEED the opportunity to reconnect with the real world so that I can bring worlds to life on the page. Even for non-writers, I believe getting out into nature, breathing fresh air, and chewing on some sand reminds us what is important in life. Like hot showers! So I am making a commitment this year to going camping at least once. I might not have time to truly sink into a full two weeks away, but even just a few days will make a difference.

Sadly, one of my guilty pleasures when I camp will no longer be available. The only time I ever ate Hostess Chocolate Donettes was on vacation and now Donettes are gone forever. I should’ve camped more when I had the chance! This is why we make resolutions. Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to double up on the bottles of red wine ;)

Do you have a favorite camping place or camping story? Please share in comments.

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Thank you for guest posting today and providing me some ideas form my "Take a Vacation" resolution.  Please be sure to support Jessa by becoming her FAN at Goodreads.
Follow Jessa's A LITTLE NIGHT MUSE blog tour for a chance to win goodies!

About the Book

Possessed by a divine entity, Cyril Fane fought rampant evil and the pain of more private losses with a fiery golden sword…until he was beaten and left for dead by a malevolent force. Now exiled from his angelic brethren, he reluctantly joins the Chicago league of talyan—immortal warriors possessed by repentant demons—as his only chance to reclaim his sword and his place in the holy sphericanum.

Bella McGreay, mysterious mistress of the Mortal Coil night club, has also danced around an uneasy affiliation with the talyan. She has secrets of her own to keep, and as the days shorten toward the winter solstice, shadows are deepening all around. Even as she barricades herself against the joys—and terrors—of the Christmas season, she’ll have to decide whether the shadows or her secrets are more dangerous.

Bella and Cyril have good reason to fear evil when an old enemy returns to torment them and the Chicago league. But only together will they find a way to the light after the darkest night.

Buy Links for The Darkest Night:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

THE RESOLUTION TOUR - January 1 - 9, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Resolution 2013: Take Mini-Vacations

Today I'm at Susan Lute's blog talking about her resolution to reduce stress.  So, please welcome the wonderful Paty Jager to my blog with  great advice for me and everyone else about how to take a vacation this year. Paty lives in Eastern Oregon and is a true rancher and horsewoman.  I have to say I admire her lifestyle and her writing.

My Mini-Vacations

To me a vacation is a meal when we eat out and I don’t have to cook or clean up. After thirty-three years of marriage, keeping house, and cooking, I don’t need to travel to feel like I’m on a vacation. I just need a night out, my husband or a family member to do a load of laundry, or a few hours to ride my horse. Those moments or hours when I’m not in charge of taking care of anyone or having to finish a deadline are golden to me. When I don’t feel rushed, harried, or having to do something it’s as good as being on a beach and reading a good book. Short periods of time to do what I want without the burden of others are my vacations. 

If you take a little time for yourself, going out to dinner, reading a book, taking a walk, treat it like a mini vacation and you’ll find yourself making more of those stress-free small moments and your attitude toward everything around you will brighten.

Connect with Paty:  Website | Blog  | Goodreads  |  Facebook  | TwitterPinterest           

Thank you for guest posting today and providing me some ideas form my "Take a Vacation" resolution.  Please be sure to support Paty by becoming her FAN at  Goodreads.

About the Book

I just have to plug Patty and her books here too.  I've read Secrets of a Mayan Moon and ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT.  If you want romance, adventure, and learning something about Mayan culture through the main character, who is an anthropologist, you will want to read this book!


Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.

DEA Agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He's deep undercover as a jaguar track and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy, anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.

Buy Links:  SmashwordsBarnes & Noble | Amazon | Sony Reader

THE RESOLUTION TOUR - January 1 - 9, 2013