Open Windows

I’m happy to welcome author Liese Sherwood-Fabre. Today, Liese shares her writing adventures and books.

Here’s Liese!

liesesherwood-1600-2My excursion into fiction writing began a little more than twenty years ago. While living in Mexico and after reading several issues of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, I thought, “I can do that,” and labored for several weeks to produce a 20-page short story quickly rejected by the publication. Regardless, I learned two things from that experience: it was possible for me to complete a story, and that I needed to learn more about how to write if I were to ever be published (not so easy when living abroad and before the Internet came into its current form).

Shortly after the rejection letter came, my husband was transferred to Moscow, Russia. Once the dust settled in our new location, the children were in school, and I took a job at the embassy, I tackled my next project, using my experience in a bi-cultural marriage as the backdrop for the story. It, too, never garnered much attention, and I started another book—this time set in Russia and inspired by a New Yorker article by Richard Preston: “Annals of Warfare: The Bioweaponeers.” He described the plight of Russian scientists following the fall of the Soviet Union and the Iranians’ efforts to recruit them for their own laboratories and weapons programs. What, I wondered, would push a scientist to agree to develop biological agents for a foreign, radical government? I gave my main character no job, a sick child, and friends with underworld connections—and Saving Hope was born.

Musa Publishing published the novel in 2012, hitting the market the same day as my oldest grandchild was born. Less than three years later, the organization folded and returned the book’s rights to me. I am finally at a stage where it will soon be in print (and digits) once again.

Any writer will tell you, as soon as you finish one book, start on the next. Shortly after Saving Hope came out, I moved on to another project: a novel involving Sherlock Holmes at age 13. This book landed me an agent. I recently completed its sequel, but so far, I haven’t found a publisher for these stories. But I have connected with a very organized Sherlock Holmes fan-base and have been sharing essays on Victorian England for publication in their newsletters. Through one contact, I heard of a call for alternate universe Sherlock Holmes stories, and submitted a story about a world inhabited by vampires, and Holmes must discover who is murdering them.

So far, 2017 has been an exceptional year for me with the release of one new book (a collection of the first two years’ of Victorian England essays), the imminent release of a second (Saving Hope) and a story appearing in the anthology Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures. And I just learned of plans by our local Sherlock Holmes society to publish their own anthology (sign up for my newsletter if you want to learn more about that as events develop!)

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If I were to identify one key word of advice for any writer, it would be perseverance. My mother always said, “When a door closes, a window opens.” When you get that rejection or learn that your publisher is no more, seek out the window. I’ve crawled through quite a few on my journey and know they always lead to new opportunities.

What about you? Have you face some difficulty, only to find opportunities opening as a result?

Where to find Liese…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon


A Second Act? At least.

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Caroline Warfield chatting about her multi-act life and her latest release, The Renegade Wife.

Here’s Caroline!

Carol Roddy - Author

By my reckoning, I am well into my fourth act, but I suspect a better analogy, is perhaps the bard’s Seven Ages of Man (As You Like It, Act II Scene 7) They prove to be as true for women as they are for men and as true now as they were in the sixteenth century.

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As Infant, I was an adored only child. As Schoolgirl, I was moved from place to place, doing what in an earlier age would have been called following the drum. I was an army brat, perpetually the new kid on the block. I found my refuge in books and in the tree shaded paths of my mind, seeking adventure and romance. You could call those two the first act.

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The third age is Lover, and I flung myself into that glorious stage of life with a vengeance, falling in love first with God—yes then and always. When He made it clear my path lay far from the cloister, he gave me Beloved, the other half of my soul. Children came into our life, some children of our body, some from afar, all beloved. This age of life is so all absorbing that those in it can think of little else, even story telling. However, like all life, it passes. Love remains.

Shakespeare called the fourth age of man, the Soldier, and it is an apt description. Career can feel like war, driving the Soldier out, sword in hand, to fight through the thickets of technology, office politics, and success criteria. In my case passionate involvement in libraries and information technology kept me at the top of my game, but left little room for those tree shaded paths. I began to write fiction fairly but, time was short and success limited. Failure and the wisdom of friends taught me hard earned skills anyway.

This fourth act seems to coincide with both the fourth and fifth ages of (wo)man. Old Will talks of Justice, all formal and “Full of wise saws…” and the slips into the foolish slippered Pantaloon “with spectacles on nose…turning toward childish treble pipes and whistles in his sound.”

When the warfare of the Soldier faded away, with some hard earned wisdom on my hide, the stories surfaced again. I had 4-5 books in various stages and condition on my laptop when Soul Mate Publishing accepted Dangerous Works for publication. Then I began to write in earnest—often in those slippers Will mentioned. In three years I have four published novels, one published novella, a fifth novel scheduled for April release, a novella for May, a novella and short story for the holidays and a sixth novel for October release! I fill them with love and family and I hope they teem with life and joy, tragedy and comedy. When Dangerous Secrets won the RONÉ award for “Best Post-Medieval Historical Novel” last year, I took it as a tribute to late-bloomers everywhere.

Who, knows I may have a Shakespearean fifth act in me in me, but whether the whole will resemble on of his tragedies or comedies remains to be seen. I can guarantee you when I slip into his final age “mere oblivion…sans everything” I will have left it all on the floor with no regrets.

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Blurb

Desperate and afraid, Meggy Blair will do whatever it takes to protect her children. She’d hoped to find sanctuary from her abusive husband with her Ojibwa grandmother, but can’t locate her. When her children fall ill, she seeks shelter in an isolated cabin in Upper Canada. But when the owner unexpectedly returns, he’s furious to find squatters disrupting his self-imposed solitude.

Reclusive businessman Rand Wheatly had good reason to put an ocean between himself and the family that deceived him. He just wants the intrusive woman gone, but it isn’t long before Meggy and the start breaking down the defensive walls he’s built. But their fragile interlude is shattered when Meggy’s husband appears to claim his children, threatening to have Rand jailed.

The only way for Meggy to protect Rand is to leave him. But when her husband takes her and the children to England, Meggy discovers he’s far more than an abuser; what he’s involved in endangers all their lives. To rescue the woman who has stolen his heart, Rand must follow her and do what he swore he’d never do: reconcile with his aristocratic family and finally uncover the truth behind all the lies. But time is running out for them all.

A Quick Excerpt

She pushed away from the door. “If you’re finished, I’ll clear up your dishes.

“Damn it woman, I fend for myself here.” He looked her up and down. He noticed her deep blue eyes, midnight black hair, and dusky skin. “What are you? Gypsy? Is that where you learned how to diddle a man out of his belongings?”

She drew her back up straight and squared her shoulders. The gesture pulled her dress tight across obviously ample breasts.

There’s a practiced enticement. She’s in for a surprise if she thinks that trick will work on me.

Chin high, she met his eyes without flinching. “My grandmother is Ojibwa, my father was French, and my husband was a Scot. You can despise whichever one of those your English heart chooses, or all of them, but I am not a thief.”

She grabbed her skirt and took a step toward the door. “Do fend for yourself. We’ll leave as soon as we can.”

“I’ll decide when you’re a thief,” he snarled, bringing her to a halt. “It’s my house.”

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Bio

Caroline Warfield writes in an office in the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart. Her most recent novel is The Renegade Wife.

Where to find Caroline…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

Joanne here!

Caroline, Thanks for the entertaining and inspiring post! Best of luck with all your literary endeavors.


Spotlight on Perfectly Together

I’m happy to feature Linda O’Connor’s new release.

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I’m very excited to release Book 6 in the Perfectly series, Perfectly Together. I wrote Perfectly Together as the final book in the series. But I also said that after the third book, haha, so we’ll see if it sticks.

Genre: Contemporary romantic comedy

Blurb

Newly graduated naturopathic doctor Jayden Locke has a dream – start a practice in small-town Emerson and never move again. She’s found the perfect office building to buy. It passes an inspection, design plans are drawn up, and the bank okays the loan. Only one problem.

Dr. Cole Cameron scoops it before she has a chance to submit an offer. What?

It’s a good investment. Cole isn’t interested in settling down. He works three jobs in three different towns and would just as soon keep moving. But something about Jayden’s defiant eyes and sexy smile makes him pause and reconsider.

What are the chances that a heart filled with wanderlust and a soul longing for a home fit Perfectly Together?

Book Hook

She’s putting down roots. He’s reaching for the sky. How’s that going to work?

Excerpt

The weight of disappointment settled on her shoulders and an ache filled her chest. Her dream tumbled like a collapsing house of cards. She couldn’t bear it, and turned to go.

“Wait, maybe we could work something out.”

She looked back.

His eyes lit up and the green flecks glowed. “I planned on renting it out. We can renovate the interior to suit. Sounds like it would work out perfectly.”

For you, maybe. She longed to own. The thought of renting, of living at the whim of someone else, made her stomach twist in knots. She couldn’t do it. She wanted stability and needed permanency.

She blinked back tears. It had been so close.

“You’re thinking of a clinic? Are you a doctor?” he asked.

“I’m a naturopath – a doctor of naturopathy.”

Cole’s eyes widened and he smirked. “A naturopath? Interesting. What exactly do you do? Hand out herbs? Read a crystal ball?” He grinned. “Voodoo?”

Jayden put her hands on her hips. “Naturopaths follow the same curriculum as medical doctors and then get additional training in natural medicine,” she said stiffly.

He held up his hands. “Sounds very . . . important.”

She narrowed her eyes. Was he mocking her? “I don’t think renting would work. I was really looking to buy.” She couldn’t keep the disappointment from her voice. “Good luck to you, though.” She glanced around one last time and walked to the front door.

A hand on her arm stopped her. “Take my card,” Cole said, offering it to her. “Think about it. If you change your mind, give me a call. I’m hoping to get underway in the next couple of weeks.” He tilted his head, the green flecks twinkling. “You know, you don’t look like a naturopath.”

She rolled her eyes. Should she even bother taking his card? She glanced at the open expanse out the window, the sunlight streaming in, and the view of the mountain.

Would it be worth it? Her dream property, at what cost?

He raised his eyebrows, and her heart stumbled at the interest in his dark blue eyes, the green specks mocking her with a dare.

She plucked the card out of his hand. Hopefully it had a picture on it. It might be a useful target for dart practice.

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Bio

linda-oconnor-author-copy-2Linda O’Connor started writing a few years ago when she needed a creative outlet other than subtly rearranging the displays at the local home décor store. It turns out she loves writing romantic comedies and has a few more stories to tell. When not writing, she’s a physician at an Urgent Care Clinic (well, even when she is writing she’s a physician, and it shows up in her stories).

Laugh every day. Love every minute.

Where to find Linda…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Blog


Movie Review: Queen of Katwe

When I first heard of this movie, I assumed it would receive several Oscar nominations. That buzz was apparent at the Toronto International Film Festival this past fall. Unfortunately, the Academy chose to bypass the movie.

Disappointing but not discouraging enough to prevent millions of people worldwide from seeing the movie on the big screen and now on DVD.

Set in Africa, the movie has an entirely black-speaking cast and focuses on a five-year period in the life of Phiona Mutesi (brilliantly played by Madina Nalwanga), an illiterate Ugandan girl living a hardscrabble life in a Kampala slum.

The trajectory of Phiona’s life changes when she walks into a small classroom, enticed by an offer of free porridge. There, she discovers the game of chess and a mentor in Robert Katende (played by David Oyelowo). She demonstrates an extraordinary talent for the game and easily learns the rules and strategies.

Throughout the film, many life lessons are imparted, some from Katende, others from the colorful cast of characters.

In his first encounter with Phiona, Katende watches the newcomer physically attack the chess kids who mock her. Instead of reprimanding her, he comments, “This is a place for fighters.” Other chess/life lessons include believing in yourself, accepting challenges, “resetting the pieces,” and overcoming defeat.

The tiny girl assigned to teach Phiona the basics shares her love of the game: “In chess, the small one can become the big one. That’s why I like it.”

In five short years, Phiona achieves what many consider an impossible dream for an impoverished African child: Flying to international chess tournaments, enrolling in higher education, and buying a house for her mother (played by Lupita Nyong’o).

Director Mira Nair has succeeded in recreating Phiona Mutesi’s empowering journey while skillfully capturing the intensity of life in Katwe.

A must-see film that will inspire and motivate.


Spotlight on I Love You More

I’m happy to feature USA Today bestselling author Josie Riviera and her Valentine-themed novella, I Love You More.

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Blurb

A billionaire and a single mother have more in common than they know.

He’s a billionaire businessman …

Luciano Donati, entrepreneur and eligible bachelor, lost his first wife to cancer. So though he lives in romantic Charleston, SC, he has every intention of ignoring the upcoming holiday for lovers … at least until he sets eyes again on his younger sister’s best friend.

He remembers Anastasia as a teenager who idolized him, not this lovely, fragile woman with heartbreak in her eyes. Heartbreak that he finds himself wanting to cure. Her smile warms his soul, her touch ignites his desire, and her little girl Soo-Min melts his frozen heart. Adopted internationally himself at a young age, Luciano understands all too well the strong need to belong somewhere.

She’s a single mom …

Anastasia Markow, cancer survivor and divorced mother, didn’t come to Charleston, SC, for romance. She’s here to make sure she has custody of her adopted daughter, Soo-Min. But when she encounters the first man she ever loved, here in the city of horse-drawn carriages and candlelight, her battered heart can’t help but bloom again. And when Luciano and Soo-Min take to each other, resisting his charm becomes even harder.

Handsome, self-assured, every inch the successful billionaire, Luciano is out of Anastasia’s reach. But when a hurricane strands them together and they must trust each other to survive … things heat up despite the driving rain and gale winds.

Can Valentine’s Day bring this unlikely pair together … this time for good?

Don’t miss this poignant story of love, loss and renewed hope—get your copy of the novella today!


Trailer


Buy Links

Amazon (ebook) | Amazon (paperback) | Universal Buy Link (iTunes, Nook, etc.)


Bio

josierivieraJosie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations.


Author’s Note

Thousands of families around the world have opened their homes and hearts through international adoption. Soo-Min is the embodiment of many, many fortunate adoptive children and parents who’ve together created forever families. This book is close to my heart as my husband and I adopted our daughter from South Career 22 years ago.


Where to find Josie…


Website | Facebook (Author Page) | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube