Friday, May 31, 2013

The Amazing Worlds of Heather Hiestand

I've been a fan of Heather Hiestand, as both a person and an author, for about 7 years now.  I remember being in awe at the number of books she was writing and publishing every year. In addition, she always wrote in multiple genres, ranging from sweet to erotic and from SF/Fantasy to mystery, paranormal and straight contemporary romance.  At this date she has successfully published over 20 novels and novellas.  That is quite an accomplishment in any writer's career. In the last two years, like many traditionally published writers, she has also decided to jump into the Indie waters and put out some books through her Coffee on Sundays press label.

I have been extraordinarily remiss in keeping up with her books for the last few years. In fact, when I looked back at the blog posts and reviews I've done as a blogger, the last time I featured Heather was in December 2010 under her Ahn Leod name!  Yikes. Way too long and I'm not sure I've ever featured her as Heather  Hiestand.

Fortunately, she agreed to do an interview and get all of my readers up to date.  Not only did she say Yes to the interview, but she is also doing a giveaway.  So be sure to participate in the RaffleCopter at the bottom of the blog, along with leaving your comments.

I know I'm excited to go download many of her new Indie books and I can't wait to see her next Kensington book (which I will be part of a blog tour to review on July 9th). Please welcome Heather to the blog.

Contact Heather on the Web: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter |

Interview


Many people may not know you have more than 20 books/novellas published now. That’s quite an accomplishment.  I’ve noticed that you like to write in a number of different genres. Do you have a favorite?
I can find something to love in anything I write, but I’m a plotter at heart so I do like best the stories that don’t demand a large ratio of sex scenes to other scenes so I can complicate things for my characters. I’ve been writing pretty faithfully in the Victorian period the past few years, and I love it, but I did have one contemporary idea manage to jump the list a couple of months ago. It’s under consideration at publishers now.

I’ve known you primarily as a small press author with Ellora’s Cave, Cerridwen and Wild Rose Press though I know you’ve also published with others.  What brought you to putting some books out as an Indie author under your Coffee On Sundays press, and do you plan to do more books independently in the future?
I had a child in 2009. He had a lot of health issues and I found it crazy-making to deal with editorial deadlines when he was in the hospital and then at home needing a lot of care. Especially, after a bad experience, it was easier to do everything on my own timeline with my own professionals when my son needed me almost constantly. Also, everything I’ve self-published is steampunk, which is a do-it-yourself kind of movement, so it made sense for me to be open to that spirit. I’m open to self-publishing more, but these days I’m in the New York camp with an agent and major publisher, so we’ll see how it goes. Publishing rarely goes the way you expect it to.



 

You have three novellas in the Steampunk Smugglers universe that look really fun.  Can you tell us a little about those?
 
I do love my smugglers! An image of a girl at a garret window, an airship overhead dropping a ladder with an invitation to adventure, had been on my mind for quite some time before I started the series. I wrote the stories at a time when my attention was too scattered for novel-length fiction, but by August 2012, the third one was almost done, and I had my contract offer for the Redcakes series with Kensington. It was time to let the Smugglers go, for now, at least. All it takes is a bestseller to change my mind about ending a series.

To be more specific, the series is set in the United Kingdom in an alternate 1890s, where there are automatons, airships, and all sorts of steam-powered gadgets. The series follows a smuggling outfit that has fallen on hard times after the government caught most of them, as they struggle to rebuild and again take to the skies. Each story is a “sweet” romantic adventure. In other words, no sex scenes, so they are suitable for teens and up.
Wear Black Cover
Your most recent release, Wear Black, is a Victorian Vampire story you co-wrote with Eilis Flynn. This sounds like new ground for you both in terms of genre and writing with a partner.  Is this a one off or the beginning of a new adventure?

I am known for my werewolf stories as Anh Leod. I originally wrote werewolves and not vampires because back in 2006, vampires were getting saturated and werewolves were pretty fresh. (and boy were my werewolves fresh) But, don’t most writers want to tackle vampires at some point? Eilis and I thought adding vampires to a well thought out alternate 1880s London would be fun stuff. We had a blast writing it and would love to continue the stories about Lucas and Nellie, time permitting. We haven’t revealed what Nellie is, or who Jack the Ripper is yet! Lots of sales would, of course, grease our writerly brains. That’s really what it comes down to in self-publishing. Having said that, we do have a sequel started and completely plotted out.

What else is coming up for you this year?

My first two novels in the Redcakes series are out this year. July 4th is the release date for Marquess of Cake, and One Taste of Scandal is probably out December 5th. I’ve got book three with beta readers now, and I’m drafting a special novella as we speak. This series begins in 1886 and is centered around a family that owns a teashop in London. My first two heroines are cake designers, and the heroes are the aristocrats who love them. The series is traditional big-publisher Victorian romance, sexy but not erotic, and I just saw my first review today. Five stars! I was so excited.

Find all of Heather's Books at your favorite vendors: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Mark your calendar for July 9th when we get to learn all about Heather's realse, Marquess of Cake from Kensington! 


* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Heather is giving away three great prizes: A $5 Amazon Gift Card, An Amazon Gift Card for Marquess of Cake, and an Amazon Gift Card for Wear Black.  So, participate in the RaffleCopter below for your chances to win. She will draw a winner on August 1st, so no time to lose getting in on these prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Friendship


 Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver, the other, gold.  This was my favorite song, often song in a teary-eyed round at Girl Scout campfires as we left a wonderful weekend in the woods. I am very fortunate that I have always had both new friends and old friends.  I think it is very important to have friends who know you at different times in your life.  But it is the ones who stay with you, as you develop and change, make bad decisions and good decisions, and still love you who are the most precious of all.

This weekend I had an "old" friend visit. I've known her for 12 years. We met in Southern Oregon when I first moved back to Oregon from the east coast. This friend is someone I care for deeply, but we haven't actually seen each other face-to-face for about 4 years and, off and on during that time, there have been periods of no contact for several months at a time.  A combination of things kept us apart, health issues on her end, me moving to another state on my end. Tragedies or challenges around lost jobs, lost opportunities, lost money that we kept to ourselves for one reason or another, and certainly we both continued to have busy and challenging lives and careers.

Sometimes, when I haven't seen someone or heard from them for a long time, I wonder if that person has made a conscicous decision to let go.  I have had people tell me that I hang on too long, that all friendship is a give and take and when proximity is taken out of the equation there is nothing to take and that is why people let go. I don't buy that. I think people just go through tough things in life and, for whatever reason, they need to work it out on their own sometimes. I just need to wait patiently and see when there is an opportunity to reconnect.

I know that I have defined this crazy role for me in a friendship--it is called the make-everything-better role. Because of this definition, when I'm really busy or having a crazy time in my own life, I put off connecting because I feel I don't have anything wonderful, uplifting, amazing to offer.  I can put myself into the role of only being a friend if I'm 110% A-okay.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. As much as I know friendship is about loving each other for who we are, in all our flaws, I still feel that need to be something more--the "perfect" friend. Needless to say, this perfect-friend trait I try to exhibit is also the same trait that makes some of my friends not keep in contact with me because they feel they also need to be the "perfect" friend because I'm so damn perfect. Ah, what a web of deceit I weave.


I have long term friends from various parts of my life that I rarely, if ever see, yet I know we are still close friends. Probably the longest is someone I was very close to in Junior High School. And during High School she spent some time living with me and my family. She lives in Oklahoma. I live in Oregon.  We met in Southern California. I haven't seen her for probably 40 years. We keep in contact through Facebook now, and the occasional email or year-in-review letter. Yet, I know for certain that when we come face-to-face again it will be amazing. She knows the very young and idealistic me from so long ago. I love that she remembers that person and can still bring her back to me. And I can bring the same young and idealistic person I knew back to her.  Sure we've grown a little jaded as we've gotten older, but we still have that idealism deep inside us and value it in each other.

I have another friend from 12 years ago who is my age (near retirement) and has chosen to join the Peace Corps. In June, she's leaving to serve in Swaziland. I can't imagine her being so far away for two or more years. I'm truly happy for her, but Africa is so very far away. She's one of those people who grew up in a world completely different from my own, yet we speak the same language. I'm already missing her and she hasn't even left yet.


I have friends I knew as men who are now women, and women who have married other women. I have friends who have been married and divorced many times, and others who are celebrating 30+ years of marriage. I have friends who have given up their children for a number of reasons, and others who have adopted children or fostered children, and many friends who very purposefully chose not to have children. I have friends who have made more money than I ever will, and others who are poor but still powerful. I don't always understand what my friends have done in the intervening years, or why they made particular choices.  And I'm sure there are many things we haven't shared with each other because it is still too painful to face. We don't always agree with each other's politics, religion, or life choices. Yet, I always know that person loves me, thinks about me, would move mountains to come to me if I asked (though I probably never would ask).  I know that person is a phone call away and will always take my call. And each of my friends knows the same about me.

Nothing can replace that kind of friendship, that kind of knowing who another person really is and still loving them anyway. The kind of friendship that allows you to grow and change, even if it isn't always in the same direction, and still care about you enough to be willing to listen at any time day or night. That is special and something I will always treasure.

How about you? Do you have any long term friends? What is special about those relationships for you?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Decoupling Google+ from Blogger

UPDATED POST WITH SCREEN SHOT AT THE END OF THE POST: 8-13-2013

I've decided to decouple Google+ from all my blogs.  I like Google+ in many ways as a means to communicate. I like the idea of circles. I like the easy exchange and conversational tone. I like that it can come to my email or phone.  It is all of these likes that when I learned I could use it instead of "regular" comments on Blogger, it made sense to me.  How cool that I could automatically choose to send my blog link to Google+. How cool, that people could have conversations with me from that link and their email as easily as coming to my blog.  However, no technology comes without a price.  In this case the price is limiting who can comment to Google+ members only.

Here are the reasons I've chosen to go back to the old commenting system.

  1. I have friends and readers who can't comment because they are not Google+ members and do not want to be Google+ members.  They are already members of too many things.
  2. Google+ does not keep track of the number of response. This means even if there has been 20 comments to a post, it still shows "no comments" on the blog line.  This is really a pain for me to track comments and for my guests to see if anyone has commented and they need to check in.
  3. Google+ catalogs all comments and makes them a part of rankings and indexed feedback.  On the one hand, I like that feature. On the other hand, a lot of people don't like that their comments are so easily indexed, tracked, tagged, and a part of rankings across the web.

I've never been someone who believes in limiting access (except when it comes to spammers). Already Blogger allows you to respond (when not using Google+ comments) through Gmail ID, Blogger ID, OpenID, or anonymously. No matter how hard I've tried to make sure access is good for everyone, it seems that Google+ only provides limits.

My payment for decoupling now is the loss of all comments associated with previous posts where Google+ was in place.

So, I apologize if you left comments previously and can no longer find them. For me, it is a small price to pay, to make sure that anyone who wants to leave comments can without being forced to sign up for yet one more account or ID with a social media entity. So, try it out.

8-13-2013 UPDATE

A couple of people still had problems finding the correct place to unclick. So, I've decided to put a screen shot here in case others find this old post in the future and are still confused. I hope it helps.




Monday, May 20, 2013

Highlander's Hope with Collette Cameron

Today I am interviewing Historical Romance author, Collette Cameron. I've only known Collette for about six months, but in that time she has bowled me over with her sweet and caring personality. Not only that, she has the most amazingly decorated "shabby-chic" writing space that absolutely matches her and the Historicals she loves to write (see pics below in the About Collette section).

Today Collette is talking about her new release, Highlander's Hope, now available from Soul Mate Publishing and most booksellers on the web.

Blurb

She was an independent heiress, disdainful of marriage.
He was the nobleman who vowed to make her his own.  

Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He’s determined to win her heart and make her his own.

Heiress, Yvette Stapleton, is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but Lord Sethwick’s passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony.

On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.” Will Ewan’s manipulation cost him her new found love?

Interview


What are your roots? 
I'm from a small town along the northern Oregon coast.  I still love the beach—especially walking along the shore in the early morning hours and hearing the call of the seagulls overhead.  I like the pounding waves and billowing wind of a winter storm too—as long as I’m snuggled up inside with a cup of piping hot coffee or tea and a good book to read.  Oh, and a few fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Has your own family story impacted your writing
at all? 


 There are a few tidbits of my family story interspersed throughout my books. I had a cousin I was extremely close to. We were best friends our entire lives until she died of brain cancer.  Yvette, the heroine in Highlander’s Hope, has a cousin, Vangie, she’s best friends with. I’ve used a few family names for characters, mostly middle names, and there’s a fire in my third story. I lost my grandparents and a foster brother in two separate house fires, both of suspicious origins. I name a character in my second book the same name as my puppy, and I have a dachshund named Kiki in my third book to commemorate a favorite pet that died last October after I fed her a dog treat that contained tainted chicken jerky. 


How do you describe yourself as a writer? 
 I’ve changed my writing style since I began writing two years ago. In the beginning, I just sat down and wrote whatever came to mind. There was a lot of unnecessary back story, flashbacks, and irrelevant scenes.  I tended to be wordy too.  And talk about flowery prose.  The adverbs and adjectives I cut—sometimes two or three in a single sentence. Ugh 


I still am more of a linear pantser (Borrowed that term from you Maggie!) than a plotter, but now I complete a Goal, Motivation, and Conflict table for my hero and heroine. I also fill out a questionnaire for each of them. It’s over 50 questions, but it really helps me develop them as a character by completing it. I make a list of basic plot points and important details and facts I want to include in the story. 

I tried sitting down and creating an entire outline for my current WIP. It didn’t work for me because my stories write themselves as I go along. My characters take me places I didn’t know I was going and introduce me to concepts I hadn’t expected.  Just this morning while taking the dogs out I had an insight on the scene I’m writing.  The doxie’s came in, and I added the new bit. I love the sudden inspirations that come from out of nowhere.

It’s ironic that, as a writer, I’m more of a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” kind of person; because in all other areas of my life, I am a highly organized planner. Maybe writing is how I express the carefree me.
I’ve only written Regency so far, but I think there’s something magical about creating a story and developing characters based on an authentic time period. I can tap into the history, culture, and customs as if they occurred yesterday. The Regency era was a tumultuous time, a time of tremendous transition and change, and it appeals to the historian and romantic in me. 

I think the Regency era (Georgian and Victorian too) tap into the romantic gene that most women have. I liken it to when girls are little, many of them dream of being princesses.  Regency lets us grown up girls be a “princess” in our imaginations for a brief moment in time.   

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

Highlander’s Hope is my debut novel. The whole concept of writing a book was overwhelming to me. Add the steep learning curve necessary to get acquainted with the industry, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it; to write a novel, and then actually get it published.

The sense of exaltation I felt when I typed “The End” is something I’ll never forget. Never mind that it wasn’t really the end. There were months of rewriting, editing, and polishing ahead of me.  Still, I proved to myself I could write a book.  It was the beginning of a new adventure for me. I’m middle-aged and I do see myself writing for the rest of my life.

What was hard for you in writing this novel? 

Having to cut half of the original manuscript was a nightmare . The novel I finished had 156,000 words.  (All those adverbs and adjectives, you know.) The published novel will be approximately 83,000 words.

I jumped in and started writing  Highlander’s Hope before I knew what I was doing. My writing was too flowery, too wordy, point-of-view was all over the place, and back flashes? Let’s not even go there. We’ll never get back here—

I’m much more ruthless now with cutting.  One of my critique partners is fabulous at pointing out my flowery prose and suggesting cuts. She’s my writing equivalent to a personal trainer, but instead of making me do another set of sit ups, she makes me cut words and phrases.  And yes it’s hard sometimes, and a whine a bit about it, but if it will strengthen my story I’ll do it.


Are there themes that recur in your work?

Dogs, birds, flowers, blue roses in this trilogy, and my quirky sense of humor.  I always have a subtle inspirational theme too. With the expected external and internal conflict and dark moments, I want my hero and heroine to be people of strong moral character.


What are you working on now? 

I’ve started the third book in my Blue Rose Series, The Earl’s Enticement.  The second book, The Viscount’s Vow will be coming from Soul Mate Publishing too.
What would you like to write in the future? 

I have a six book highland saga that I’m anxious to start.  I’m toying with a historical paranormal trilogy, and I even have an idea for a couple of contemporary romances.  I think before I do any of those though, I’ll have to write a stand-alone novel. That story I  actually know from beginning to end.
If you had to give one piece of advice to women who are searching for something more in their relationships, what would it be? 

Well, after thirty years of marriage, I can honestly say you can’t rely on someone else to make you happy. They can only enhance your happiness and give your life a deeper dimension of meaning. So, don’t focus on what you don’t like about yourself or your circumstances, or even your relationship. Instead, embrace the good, what you do like, what is working— And ignore the little stuff. It really doesn’t matter. 

Excerpt

Peeking at him from beneath her lashes, she reached up to straighten her bonnet. It hung askew off the side of her head, like a giant drooping peony. She shoved it back into place but the moment she removed her hand, it flopped over once more.

The stranger's unrestrained laughter filled the carriage.


“Oh, bother it all.” Yvette’s patience with both her rescuer and the silly bonnet were at an end. She had no choice but to remove the dratted thing to reaffix it. Several strands of hair tumbled to her shoulders when she removed the cap from her head. Suppressing a shriek of annoyance, she placed the hat beside her. She then set about securing the wayward curls. Pinning the last strand in place, her eyes met those of her companion.


Momentarily forgetting her unanswered questions, she stilled, as did the world around her. The air hung suspended in her lungs. Her eyes widened in disbelief, her stunned gaze riveted on his face. “You exist?” Her voice was husky with awe.


Raising an ebony eyebrow, a flicker of humor softened the nobleman’s features. “So it would appear.”


A voice, deep and dark, caressed Yvette’s heightened senses. She stared. Her gaze roved across his handsome features returning, as if compelled by some unseen force, to his eyes.


Those eyes. Fringed by thick lashes, the mesmerizing turquoise pools gazing back at her sent her senses reeling in recognition. Her mouth dropped open. No, it couldn’t be. 


“Am I dreaming?” Giving a quick shake of her head, she lowered her eyelids for a moment. Lud, but she was befuddled. "Who are you?
 

My Review


This book surprised me on several levels.  Though it takes an approach that appears typical for many historical romances these days—Scottish Hero, Regency Historical, and Virgin Heroine—  nothing is completely as it seems. This very independent heroine is escaping a determined and violent suitor, and she has had persistent and sensual dreams of the hero for years. Both of these elements play into a nice mystery plot for the reader to unravel.  Bravo to author Collette Cameron for carrying this off.

There is a lot to love about this book.  The descriptions provide good detail about the era, the dress, and the landscape through the heroine’s eyes. This helps build a welcome and expansive picture in the readers mind. The addition of the mystery plot adds a wonderful twist to villain Edgar’s motivations, while providing plenty of external tension to keep the reader turning the pages.  From the midpoint of the novel to the end, I couldn’t put it down wondering who would die and how the HEA would be fashioned. I stayed up way past my usual 1am to 2am time and dearly paid in lost sleep the next day. But it was worth it!

What makes this book really work, however, are the characterizations Ms. Cameron provides throughout her story, including secondary characters like the caustic Mrs. Pettigrove and the many individual men who are loyal to the hero and both teasing and protective toward the heroine.  Most of all I fell in love with the hero and heroine, in all their complexity. From silly missteps to serious consequences, and from individual insecurities to assured self-confidence, I willingly went on their relationship journey with them.

The heroine, American Yvette Stapleton, is independent and prepared. Not only is she well-educated and speaks several languages, but she is also physically prepared to fend off rogues and ruffians with a combination of knives, guns, and her martial arts training.  That is definitely unusual for a Regency novel and the way the author introduces and uses these skills throughout the novel is excellent.  The hero, Scottish Lord Ewan McTavish, is the perfect combination of Regency Lord and bad boy rogue.  I fell in love with Ewan from their first meeting and was pulling for Yvette and Ewan to get together permanently. Learning, along with the heroine, exactly who Ewan is and why she has dreamed of him all these years is a journey well worth taking.

This is not your average love story, nor your average hero and heroine. The characters’ flaws offer many opportunities for smiles and giggles, as well as a tear or two for lost opportunities.  The love story builds on strong independence for each character, as well as intelligence and loyalty to family. This book stands up to the publisher’s moniker. Yvette and Ewan are definitely soul mates. This book was time well-spent as I followed this couple on their journey of building trust, discovering loyalty, and finding friendship. In the end, all of these qualities ensured a fulfilling forever love. 


Buy Links:  Amazon  Currently this title is only available at Amazon.

About Collette

A life-long Oregonian, Collette Cameron was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast. Today she makes her home in a rural community, 30 minutes west of Portland. Her Victorian farmhouse sits on a one-acre certified wildlife habit, interspersed with a plethora of gardens: English, rose, butterfly, rock, water, and of course, vegetable.

A voracious reader of romance since her teens, she even named her daughter after a heroine in her favorite romance novel. An enthusiast of times gone by, and anything related to romance, she writes Historical Romance, with a dash of inspiration, a pinch of humor, and a liberal portion of suspense.

Having dabbled in interior decorating in her youth, Collette returned to school, graduating summa cum laude from Oregon State University, and going on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Teaching. She is member of Romance Writers of America, Rose City Romance Writers, The Beau Monde, and Love Faith and Hope, Inc.

Some of Collette’s favorite things include unique blends of coffees and teas, Cadbury Milk Chocolate, inspirational quotes, and scented candles. Her Christian faith, husband, three adult children, and five miniature dachshunds round out her life quite nicely! When she’s not teaching or writing, she enjoys amateur photography, bird watching, gardening, interior decorating, rock-hunting, boating or fishing on the Columbia River, and reading.

Contact Collette on the Web: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Linked-In | GoodReads | SoulMate Author Page | Pinterest

* * * Giveaway * * *



Collette will be awarding a gift basket that includes a gift card, blue rose tea cup, blue rose soap, vintage looking cameo pendant, shortbread, tea, and other yummy goodies to a randomly drawn commenter during the tours.

Follow the Rest of the Tour


I am the first stop on this tour, so you have lots of chances to follow the rest of the tour and get to know Collette better.  Also the more places you visit and comment, the better your chance at winning her wonderful gift basket.

5/20/2013 Maggie's Meanderings
5/20/2013 SECOND STOP Book 'Em North Carolina
5/27/2013 Christine Young Romance Writer
6/3/2013 Sharing Links and Wisdom
6/10/2013 Andi's Book Reviews
6/17/2013 JM Stewart, Contemporary Romance Author
6/24/2013 Samantha Holt
7/1/2013 Bunny's Review
7/8/2013 Krystal Shannan - Where Love and Destiny Collide
7/15/2013 Jianne Carlo
7/22/2013 Musings From An Addicted Reader
7/29/2013 Straight from the Library
8/5/2013 Romantic Historical Lovers



Monday, May 13, 2013

Chapter 6 - Return to the Forest

I meant to get this up this weekend, but...time got away from me with all my anniversary celebrations. :)  You can see my post all about my anniversary at the Windtree Press blog today.

So, here's the next chapter in the saga. By the way, someone asked if all these pictures at the beginning of each chapter are going to be in the print book. The answer is No. These are pics I chose or put together just to add some interest to your advanced reading.  I didn't do anything past Chapter 8, and the publisher does not have the time or inclination to hire someone to do all the chapters.  So enjoy them while you can!

If you are just finding this blog, you may want to go back and read the book from the start. Here are links to each posting. These sample chapters are from the eARC, which means it is an uncorrected copy.Typos and such are still going through copy-editing and will be corrected in the final book released June 8, 2013!

Enjoy!





Mother's Day for Those Without Children


 As I celebrated Mother's Day at church yesterday, I really valued the service which had music and readings about all kinds of mothers--not just the type who have birthed or adopted children and raised them to adulthood.  In addition to the traditional motherhood role we all associate with Mother's Day, We celebrated mother earth, a spiritual mother, and the mother nurturing spirit inside all of us (men and women).

I am one of those women who could never have biological children. A variety of medical events and surgeries, when I was young, conspired to make sure I could never have children. At least I knew this for sure before I got married and never went through the trials and disappointments of trying to get pregnant.  Though I was sad not to have children, I always figured I would adopt. After all there are hundreds of thousands of children in the world who need a permanent family. I am the oldest of nine children and loved being part of a large family, so having a family (though not as large) was always a part of my plan.

Around age 26, I thought my then husband and I would begin the long and arduous adoption process. We had discussed it as a given since our marriage five years previously. Unfortunately, we  instead got divorced. Time passed, my career goals became my children, and when I married my current husband I was beyond the age of adopting babies or young children. In addition, my husband came with two teenaged sons.  I am fortunate that those two young men became a part of my life and that I had some small amount of mothering to invest--shared with their biological mother.  I am also doubly fortunate because the eldest son is now married and expecting a baby. This means I will actually get to be a grandmother. Something I never imagined would happen to me.

Even though I have been blessed, through marriage, to participate in some small way in the traditional mother and grandmother roles, I admit I still occasionally yearn to have been a "real" mother. I occasionally yearn to move across country and be a "real" grandmother--one who lives close enough that she can babysit regularly and be a part of the daily life of a growing child.  It's not that I am unable to move, it's that other needs/desires/economics trump that yearning to live near our grandchild and future grandchildren. Sometimes, when I look at the newspaper and see a child or a sibling group looking for a permanent home (particularly children around age 10-14) I often have a moment when I think. We could adopt these children. We could give them a loving home. Note, these are my personal thoughts, not my husband's who rightfully feels he has already raised children and is ready for a different stage in life.

I also realize that many women have not been as fortunate as I in marrying someone with a built in family to be part of, and that some of these women have a very difficult time with Mother's Day as they look back and yearn for that role.  In my church congregation I know of several women who have difficulty on Mother's Day. The celebration, no matter how open and encompassing, reignites that yearning for something that will never be.

I have not learned to stop the yearning, so I have no easy answer to help with that other than accept it is and will always be a part of my life. I think it is forever with you in some way, just like grief for someone who has died. It is, for me, a grieving for a life I will never know and wanted very much.

However, I have learned to accept that I am a mother in many ways beyond raising a child or being a part of the daily life of a child because I am a nurturer and I enjoy being a nurturer.  Through different times in my life, I have nurtured children in Sunday School. I have nurtured teenagers when I was a foster parent. I have nurtured young college students as a professor and an administrator. In addition to my wonderful step-sons, I continue to nurture friends and, in turn, their children whenever asked. My need to "mother" comes out every day in some way, and I have embraced it as my calling and a way to live my daily life without raising children or being near them all the time.

I believe that those of us who have that nurturing/mothering need inside of us (men as well as women) have always expressed it. We just can't help ourselves. We may not be aware of how it has manifested to help others, and we may not be aware of how it can help us to temper the yearning we may still have. I wish for all those who yearn to be mothers, for all those who are natural nurturers, that you find some peace in the gifts you have and in sharing them in whatever way you can. You are a mother in the true sense of the word. You are a person who nurtures.

Outside of raising children, how have you been a mother in your life?


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Coupons Gone But Sale Still On

In a previous post I talked about using a coupon code to pre-order the first two books in my YA Fantasy series about the Forest People and get a 78% discount.  Well, the coupons are no longer available. 

But never fear! Windtree Press is keeping the books on sale at 99 cents each through June 30th.  Instead of having to enter a coupon, you simply click on the title and you can purchase it for only 99 cents. Much easier, right?

Windtree Press offers ebooks in all reader formats, MOBI for Kindle, PDF for tablets and desktop computers, and EPUB for all other readers (e.g., Kobo, Nook, Sony, etc.) and tablets and computers.  Never downloaded a file that wasn't at Amazon or Nook or Kobo originally.  Not a problem.  Windtree Press also offers a handy FAQ (frequently asked questions) section to help you load the file onto your reader.

The next chapter of Chameleon: The Awakening will be posted at the end of the week. Enjoy the sale!



Friday, May 3, 2013

Chapter 5 - The Escape AND Cover Reveal for Book 2

It's here! It's here!  Another amazing cover from Christy Caughie.  This one is for the second book in the Forest People series, Chameleon: The Choosing.  Are you wondering about the dead guy covered in lichen? If so, you need to pick up the book ASAP.

Here's the short version of the blurb:

Having survived the Kintala, Camryn knows two things: 1) her feelings about Ohar or Dagger can't be trusted; and 2) her newly found magical powers are darn scary and out of control.  The first step is to bond with the most powerful creature in the universe, a thunder dragon.  The choosing is never easy, and only the worthy are chosen. In her first battle with the Agnoses, Camryn must first face her own inner demons in order to save the Forest People. She must learn to resist the call of the Abaddon, or risk the price of letting it take her. Death.

For those who are reading along, this week I'm also posting Chapter 5 of the first book, Chameleon: The Awakening.  If you've been following my posts, with this chapter you now have 126 free pages you've read. You are nearing the half way point of the book.  Only two more chapters and it will be release time.  Stay tuned for some special deals for people who read my blog or visit me on Facebook.  OR, for those who want to be the first to find out about deals, check out the Windtree Press Sales and Coupons page.  You won't believe the deal on these two books during May and June if you use the coupon code there.

If you are just finding this blog, you may want to go back and read the book from the start. Here are links to each posting. These sample chapters are from the eARC, which means it is an uncorrected copy.Typos and such are still going through copy-editing and will be corrected in the final book released June 8, 2013!

Enjoy!