Virtual Book Tour: Love, in Writing

I’m happy to welcome author Elsa Winckler. Today, Elsa shares her favorite books and new release: Love, in Writing.

My Ten Favorite Books

I was born and raised in a very small town in South Africa where at the time, the only entertainment were the movies and the library. So I read. A lot. And getting lost into a story is still something I can’t do without.

Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery.

It was lovely to discover the fanciful, imaginative and dramatic Anne – living mostly in my own imagination, I could relate on so many levels.

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I was very young when I read this the first time and although at the time I didn’t quite understand what it was about, there was something about the story of the little prince in space talking about loneliness, friendship and love that touched my heart. Years later, I bought myself a copy – it’s still one of my favourite reads.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

I’ve known about Jane Austen and I’ve read the stories and I’ve seen movie adaptations of most of them, but it was only while doing my Honours studies at the age of 45 that I really learnt to appreciate Austen’s gentle mockery of the world she lived in.

Middlemarch – George Eliot

I also discovered George Eliot during my studies and Middlemarch is one of those books I try to reread regularly. Such a rich, character-driven story with so many layers, I still discover some each time I pick up the book.

North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell

I fell in love with John Thornton the minute Margaret sees him for the first time. It looks at how the industrial revolution changed people’s everyday lives but for me it’s the love story that makes this a must-read.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Aaah – the passion, the story, Heathcliffe! He’s also one of the heroes I lost my heart to a long time ago. ‘Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same’ – how can you not fall in love with this story!

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

This book nearly destroyed me – I didn’t sleep for two nights! Brace yourself before you read it but do read it. The most challenging, upsetting but beautifully written story with no mercy for the reader, I’ve ever read. It follows the lives of four friends, but it’s Jude’s story that nearly ripped my heart out.

The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

Even the English translation of this beautiful story has the flow and the rhythm of the original version. Heart-wrenching but beautiful.

The Language of flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Another beautiful if heart-breaking story about a girl who was brought up in the system but who finds a connection to the rest of the world through flowers.

Happy Ever After – Nora Roberts

And my list cannot be complete without a love story! I love Nora Roberts’s writing and this one is my favorite, probably because of Malcalm Kavanaugh 

Blurb

A hardcore Science Fiction writer and a softhearted romance novelist clash on the sunny South African coast…

Margaret Parker is a hopeless romantic whose fantasies fuel her writing. For Graham Connelly, science fiction is the perfect genre to express his cynical worldview. A chance meeting in a lift leaves them both interested and aroused — with no clue as to the other’s identity.

Margaret has been looking for a face to match her new fictional hero — and Graham’s is it. Graham has been looking for proof that innocence and optimism still exist — and he’s found it in Margaret. But fantasy isn’t reality, and both Margaret and Graham are used to controlling their fictional worlds. Can they step off the pages long enough to find their own happy-ever-after?

Excerpt

Margaret gaped. His mouth was moving but it took a few minutes for her befuddled brain to process what he was saying. She was fascinated by his face, the movement of his lips, the taut skin of his cheeks. Her eyes couldn’t move away from him. He was really beautiful. What was he saying? Gradually, his questions penetrated her brain.

“What… Who are you? You must be mistaken. I was at a par—”

He nodded and put his hands into his pockets. “Is this how you’re going to play it? You’re going to pretend you don’t know who I am?” He was smiling, but it wasn’t a nice smile.

She had no idea what the man was talking about. All she knew was she had to get out of the elevator, and fast.

Margaret swallowed and shook her head. Breathing had become so difficult and for a minute, she worried she might faint. He was standing right in front of the door and she started to squeeze past him so she could get out as soon as the elevator stopped. He turned with her, his eyes never leaving hers.

“Like I said, I don’t mind taking you up to my flat…” His voice dropped to a whisper. “You really do have the most amazing eyes.”

He walked closer, and she stepped back. And still he moved closer. She tried to step farther back, but was blocked by the side panel behind her. Their faces were about two centimeters apart. There were tiny flecks in his eyes. His musky male scent seeped through her entire being. She swallowed. He scowled but she didn’t feel threatened. His gaze dropped and a hiss escaped through his teeth.

Margaret looked down. The top of her lacy, red bra was clearly visible from this angle. Her eyes gaze flew back to his.

Leisurely, his gaze connected with hers again. The sudden flash of desire in his eyes robbed her of the last of her breath. As if in a trance, he lifted his hand and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. With a look of fierce concentration, he trailed his fingers down her cheek.

His eyes darkened; he cupped her face in his hand. Around them, the air sizzled with strange electricity. He had the palest of blue eyes, she thought. A sound penetrated her befuddled brain. It had come from her throat. His eyes mirrored the confusion she was experiencing. Then, as if stung, he dropped his hand and stepped back.

Buy Links

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

Author Bio and Links

Elsa has been reading love stories for as long as she can remember and when she ‘met’ the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James The Brontë sisters, etc. during her English Honours studies, she was hooked for life.

She married her college boyfriend and soul mate and after 45 years, 3 interesting and wonderful children and 4 beautiful grandchildren, they are now fortunate to live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty’s Bay, South Africa.

She likes the heroines in her stories to be beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong. And the heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity. They are of course, also gorgeous! Her stories typically incorporate the family background of the characters to better understand where they come from and who they are when we meet them in the story.

Website | Personal Facebook Page | Author Facebook Page | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub | Pinterest | Wattpad | Instagram | LinkedIn

Giveaway

Elsa Winckler will be awarding a copy of a short story (“Plan B”) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Elsa on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


What is the Difference Between Making Love to Someone and Making love with Them?

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Chrys Fey. Today, Chrys shares an intriguing post about making love and her new release, A Fighting Chance.

Here’s Chrys!

In A Fighting Chance, there’s a moment when Amanda talks about a romance book she read a long time. In that story, the hero told the heroine that he wouldn’t make love to her but rather with her. I took that from my real life. When I was a young teen, I was reading a romance and came across those lines spoken by the sexy hero to the beautiful heroine. (Don’t ask me what the title was, because I don’t remember. I couldn’t even tell you the author’s name, although I could guess a few authors I’d been reading at that time.) And those words, that emphasis struck me. In a good way. Yeah, I thought, there is a difference between making love to someone and making love with someone.

The wording “make love to someone,” which is the common phrasing known by many, sounds as though the other person is not a participant, that the person showing love and doing acts of love is the only one engaging. It sounds as though the receiver is doing just that…receiving and not giving. Maybe even being forced to receive when they don’t want to.

On the other hand, “make love with someone,” sounds as though both individuals are active participants, because you are doing this WITH another person, not TO another person. It’s like these phrasing: watch a movie with you, have dinner with you, play a board game with you. In all of those scenarios, you are doing something WITH a loved one. That’s why “make love with someone” is a beautiful and inclusive, accurate phrase for what is transpiring. You both are showing love and doing acts of love. You both are giving, as well as receiving.

Now, whenever I’m writing and have to talk about my characters making love for the first time, I always word it as “make love with.”

Read them slowly:

Make love to you.

Make love with you.

Can you see the difference now? 😊

Blurb

*A FIGHTING CHANCE is Book 6 in the Disaster Crimes series, but it’s a spin-off featuring a new couple, so it can be read as a standalone.*

Thorn has loved Amanda from afar, giving her whatever she needs as a survivor of abuse—space, protection, and stability. He yearns to give her more, though, to share his feelings, kiss her, love her, but he’s worried the truth will frighten her away.

And Amanda is afraid. She’s scared of her attraction for Thorn. Most of all, she’s terrified of her ex-boyfriend, who is lurking nearby where no one can find him. When she grows closer to Thorn, Damon retaliates, jeopardizing their happy ending.

Up against an abusive ex and Mother Nature, do Thorn and Amanda have a fighting chance?

Book Links

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

Excerpt

Amanda looked up from the current list of up-to-date payments for classes. A movement outside the glass storefront caught her eye. She tilted her head to see a man coming up the sidewalk from the side where the picnic bench sat. Through the vertical blinds, she glimpsed a square face—a short, rugged beard and long, dark hair pulled into a man bun. Her breath fled from her lungs. Her body went from icy cold to flaming hot in the span of a millisecond. She dropped to the floor and slid under the counter, beneath the ledge where they put their purses and cell phones.

“What—” Beth peeked at the windows. Then she snapped her fingers at April and pointed at the stools.

April jumped into action. She pushed the stools in so they blocked Amanda. The bell attached to the door jingled as April removed the jacket she wore and draped it across the stools, creating a curtain to shield Amanda.

From a crack, Amanda watched Beth move to stand in front of the twins, who were in their walkers playing peacefully. “I’m sorry, but we’re going to be closing.”

“I don’t give a shit. I’m here for Amanda.”

The sound of Damon’s voice had her heart beating even harder. That voice had haunted her nightmares, had come back to life in her memories.
Beth cocked her head to the side. “Who? There’s no one by that name here.”

“Don’t bullshit me. I know she works here.”

His voice was closer now.

Book Links

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

Author’s Note: I wrote The Disaster Curse to answer a few lingering questions readers may have after reading A Fighting Chance, and to tie the whole series together with a neat, shiny, perfect little bow. Plus, there was one disaster that I hadn’t written about yet. *wink*

The Disaster Crimes Series:

*The Crime Before the Storm (prequel)
Hurricane Crimes (novella, #1)
Seismic Crimes (#2)
Lightning Crimes (free short, #2.5)
Tsunami Crimes (#3)
Flaming Crimes (#4)
Frozen Crimes (#5)
A Fighting Chance (spin-off, #6)
The Disaster Curse (short story, #7)

*Free exclusive story to newsletter subscribers.

***LAUNCHING A WEBSITE***

TheFightingChance.org is a website dedicated to domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. Inspired by the Disaster Crimes series.

***Giveaway***

Prizes: Hurricane Crimes (Disaster Crimes 1) and Seismic Crimes (Disaster Crimes 2) eBooks (mobi or epub), Hurricane Crimes Playing Cards, Girl Boss Sign, and a Volcanic Blast Scented Candle

Enter here.

About the Author

Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press.

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon


Become the Lake

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In his bestselling book, Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty shares the following story about the importance of perspective.

“What brings you to me?” asked an old, wise woman of the young man who stood before her.

“I see joy and beauty around me, but from a distance,” the young man said. “My own life is full of pain.

The wise woman was silent. She poured a cup of water for the sad young man and handed it to him. Then she held out a bowl of salt.

“Put some in the water,” she said.

The young man hesitated, then took a small pinch of salt.

“More. A handful,” the old man said.

Looking skeptical, the young man put a scoop of salt in his cup. The old woman gestured with her head, instructing the young man to drink. He took a sip of water, made a face, and spat it on the dirt floor.

“How was it?” the old woman asked.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” said the young man rather glumly.

The old woman smiled knowingly, then handed the young man the bowl of salt and led him to a nearby lake. The water was clear and cold. “Now put a handful of salt in the lake,” she said.

The young man did as he was instructed, and the salt dissolved into the water. “Have a drink,” the old woman said.

The young man knelt at the water’s edge and slurped from his hands.

When he looked up, the old woman again asked, “How was it?”

“Refreshing,” said the young man.

“Could you taste the salt?” asked the old woman.

The young man smiled sheepishly. “Not at all,” he said.

The old woman knelt next to the man, helped herself to some water and said, “The salt is the pain of life. It is constant, but if you put it in a small glass, it tastes bitter. If you put it in a lake, you can’t taste it. Expand your senses, expand your world, and the pain will diminish. Don’t be the glass. Become the lake.”

Source: Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty, p. 218


Book Blast: First Light in Morning Star

I’m happy to welcome author Charlotte Hubbard. Today, Charlotte shares her new release, First Light In Morning Star.

Blurb

Founded by five enterprising Amish maidels, the new Morning Star Marketplace is a joyous success. What’s even more remarkable is the gift the business bestows upon each of these unmarried women—the unexpected blessing of love . . .

Leaving Flaud’s Furniture to teach at the community’s new school is a joy for Lydianne Christner. Old Order Amish, but new to Morning Star, she’s grateful that the congregation trusts her with the position—but she panics when handsome Bishop Jeremiah Shetler asks about the life she left behind. If anyone discovers the secret she’s hiding, she would, quite rightly, be shunned.

A widower, Bishop Jeremiah admires young Lydianne’s youthful energy and skill with the children. He’s also curious about her past, and the burden he senses on her heart. When his request to court her is refused, he’s stung, and lonelier than ever. It isn’t until a crisis prompts a tearful Lydianne to confess to him that Jeremiah is faced with a choice that requires all of his faith—and teaches them both that love and forgiveness go hand in hand.

Excerpt

Hope fluttered like a butterfly in Lydianne Christner’s heart as she parked her rig in the pole barn just north of the new white schoolhouse. It was barely dawn and she was more than an hour early for her interview with the members of Morning Star’s school board, but she needed time to collect her thoughts and plan her answers to the questions she anticipated from the five men who would decide her future. It had been a spur-of-the-moment decision when she’d blurted out her wish to apply for the teaching position at the members’ meeting after church a week ago—but in the days since, Lydianne’s soul had reconfirmed her impulsive outburst.

She really wanted this position. The trick would be replying to the school board’s questions without hinting at the very personal reason she wished to become Teacher Lydianne. Did she stand a chance?

Sighing nervously, Lydianne stepped onto the front stoop of the schoolhouse and opened the front door.

Her heart fluttered at the sight of fresh white walls, low-maintenance tan flooring, and rows of new metal desks and chairs—the front row filled with shorter desks for the youngest scholars. The white board that covered most of the wall behind her awaited whatever instructions she would write with a variety of colored markers, and the built-in bookcases at the back of the classroom would soon hold a small library as well as a collection of textbooks. Sturdy tables along the side walls would provide space for class projects. A stairway led to the lower level, where the scholars would hang their coats and store their lunch buckets when they came in each morning.

The prospect of beginning a new job—a new life—in this fresh setting filled Lydianne with an even greater excitement than she recalled from when she was a scholar, buying paper and supplies as she anticipated each new school year. Even at twenty-three, she loved learning new things and she eagerly looked forward to passing on her enthusiasm for reading, writing, and arithmetic to—

“Ah—gut morning, Lydianne,” a familiar male voice pulled her from her musings. “Somehow I’m not surprised that you arrived early.”

Buy links

Ebook

Kindle | Kindle UK | Kindle Canada | Kindle Australia | Apple Books | Apple Books UK | Apple Books Canada | Apple Books Australia | Apple Books New Zealand | Nook | Google Play

Print

Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Amazon Australia | Barnes & Noble | Indigo | IndieBound | BAM! Books-A-Million Mass Market Paperback | The Book Repository

Author Bio and Links

In 1983, Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. She wrote around 70 of those confession stories, and she’s sold more than 50 books to traditional or online publishers. A longtime resident of Missouri, she’s currently writing Amish romances set in imaginary Missouri towns for Kensington. She now lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of 40+ years and their Border collie, Vera.

Website | Facebook

Giveaway

Charlotte Hubbard will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Charlotte on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


Fail Trying, Don’t Fail Watching

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

This year, I decided to read daily inspirations from Bob Goff’s devotional, Live in Grace, Walk in Love. I found yesterday’s reflection inspirational and a call to action.

Before Bill Gates was one of the richest men n the world, he was a Harvard dropout with a failed business. He cofounded a business called Traf-O-Data. Have you ever heard of it? Of course not. Me neither. It was started in the 1970s, and this company generated reports about roadway traffic to help cities know where to put traffic lights or which roads need improving. It was far from a head turner. Here’s why it’s interesting. The company and its ideas crashed and burned.

Bill Gates was born with a gift, though, and he didn’t bury the gift just because his first attempt was a failure. He and his business partner learned from their mistakes, started Microsoft, and changed the world.

Failure tops the list of greatest fears for most of us. It’s vulnerable to put our passions into action because we can’t play it cool if it crumbles. If others see us go all in, they’ll certainly see us if we fail. We’ll be embarrassed, broke, and our friends might be awkward in the way they handle it all. What if they see that our best wasn’t enough? What if we hear that dark voice inside us again that says, You’re not enough?

We can’t win the game from the bleachers. We’ll never succeed unless we get out on the field and go for it. Whether it’s starting a business, putting music to your poems, or braving rejection from the girl who makes you lose your words, you won’t get the gold if you’re too scared to work the mine. God created you with unique gifts and ignited the passions He put in your heart for a reason—don’t let fear steal your opportunities and leave you on the sidelines wishing you’d tried. Do what you believe you were created to do. Is it possible it won’t work? You bet. Fail trying, don’t fail watching.

Source: Live in Grace, Walk in Love by Bob Goff, p. 6


What Will You Do When Your Characters Misbehave?

When I first heard this question at a creative writing workshop, I was tempted to say that I intended to firmly hold onto the reins. A neophyte with no literary credits to my name, I couldn’t imagine characters actually misbehaving on the page. Thankfully, I paused and waited for more seasoned writers to respond.

What followed was an animated discussion about a ghostly character who suddenly appeared and replaced the original protagonist, new characters who emerged out of a conversation, and a male character who decided to change gender. In each case, the writers allowed the disruptors to alter the course of the narrative.

A bit woo-woo for my taste, but I concluded that writers—for the most part—were a motley bunch.

Continue reading on Debra Goldstein’s blog.


Five Daily Reminders That Will Calm Your Life in 2021

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I receive a daily dose of inspiration from bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. In yesterday’s email, they shared this advice:

NOTE TO SELF: It’s not what you say to everyone else that determines your life; it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the greatest power.

You know this is true. The happiness of your life greatly depends on the quality of your thoughts.

The mind is indeed your battleground. It’s the place where the greatest conflict resides. It’s where half of the chaos you thought was real, was completely fabricated. There’s no escaping the fact that you are what you think—that you can’t change anything if you can’t change your thinking.

The key, of course, is calming your mind…

As you begin each day in 2021, be mindful and take a second to think about what a privilege it is to simply be alive and healthy. Breathe onto the bathroom mirror just to see how amazing your breath looks. When you start a day in a mindful state like this, you can focus more effectively, step into the day on the right foot and carry the momentum forward.

Easier said than done on most days, but practice always helps. So, practice reminding yourself…

1. The problem is rarely the problem—the problem is the incredible amount of over-thinking and over-analyzing you’re doing with the problem.

2. Many people make themselves unhappy simply by finding it impossible to accept life just as it is presenting itself right now. You don’t have to be one of them.

3. Never force anything. Do your best, then let it be. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Don’t hold yourself down with things that are out of your control.

4. Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it. Sometimes what you never wanted or expected turns out to be what you need.

5. RELAX. You are enough. You have enough. You do enough. Inhale. Exhale… let go, and just live right now in the moment.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.


On Tour with Goddess Fish – Day 11

It’s my last Monday on tour with Goddess Fish.

I’m visiting the Novels Alive blog and chatting about my writing journey and No More Secrets.

Stop by and visit for a while. Remember to scroll down and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Find out more here.