Spotlight on Susan Van Kirk

I’m happy to welcome author Susan Van Kirk. Today, Susan shares two amazing days in her creative journey.

Here’s Susan!

Hi, Everyone, and thank you Joanne for inviting me to your blog!

When I began writing mysteries eleven years ago, I always thought the most amazing day in my future would be the day my first box of books with my name on it arrived on my front porch. And it was. But recently, I had another most amazing day, one that I hadn’t imagined back then.

After writing a series called the Endurance Mysteries, I decided to go in a new direction and begin a mystery series about a younger protagonist, one who would have a dream job. She’d be a historical researcher whom famous authors paid to do their digging, and she’d explore amateur genealogy on the side. Beth Russell appeared in my head, the woman who would have the job I’d love.

Leaving her home on Long Island, Beth ventured to Illinois when an investigator told her he thought she was the lost daughter of a wealthy family named Tippitt. Here she was, a genealogist, who didn’t even know who she was. Soon, the little town of Sweet Iron materialized, and Beth discovered a family she didn’t know she had, and the murder of a mother she’d never met. Well, as they say, the story now twists and turns with a murder case from 1971, a group of suspects still around, and the same people interested in Beth’s speedy departure from Sweet Iron…one way or another. Then we have her missing biological father, someone watching the Tippitt house from the woods, and the ghostly smell of Chantilly perfume, the scent her mother wore.

But then there’s the #2 best day of my life, which I mentioned at the beginning of this twisty tale. In late March, my publisher, Encircle Publications, joined with Orange Sky Audio by Findaway to do an audiobook of A Death at Tippitt Pond. Seriously? My words in an audiobook for all the world to hear. And even better, the professional narrator they hired was Patricia Santomasso, who lives in New York City and has done 150 audiobooks prior to mine. I loved her voice.

So, the second-best day of my book-writing life began with a download of my own words, previously typed in my little office on my laptop in downstate Illinois and now read by a professional. When I heard the first paragraph, I must confess to a few tears of joy, and then the few became many. How amazing—my words read aloud for all the world to hear.

Blurb

Everyone in the small town of Sweet Iron knew the teenage daughter of Judge Tippitt and his wife, Jolene. Melanie Tippitt’s exotic green eyes sprinkled with gold flecks only added to her haunting beauty. That is why her shocking murder in the summer of 1971 shattered the innocence of the town. Soon, the inhabitants sighed with relief when the murderer was sent to prison. Case closed. Four decades later, historical researcher and genealogist, Elizabeth Russell, arrives in Sweet Iron with plans for a brief visit. She extends her stay when she discovers reasons to research the Tippitt family genealogy and the disturbing tragedy of their daughter’s murder. Her decision cracks the tranquility of the town and challenges the truth of what happened that day at Tippitt Pond … Case closed. Or was it?

About the Author

Susan Van Kirk is a Midwest writer, living in downstate Illinois. Her writings include the Endurance Mysteries: Three May Keep a Secret, The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney, Marry in Haste, and Death Takes No Bribes. Harlequin Worldwide Mystery is currently republishing her entire series. Her latest mystery is A Death at Tippitt Pond. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and is President of the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Her website and blog are at http://www.susanvankirk.com

Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page

Inspired to Write the Donovan Family Saga

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Gifford MacShane. Today, Gifford shares interesting tidbits about her historical fiction series.

Here’s Gifford!

Thanks so much, Joanne, for inviting me to share ten interesting things about my Historical Fiction Series, THE DONOVAN FAMILY SAGA, as a guest on your blog today! Childhood and history came together, inspiring me to create these books.

1. From the beginning, as a member of a large Irish-American clan, I wondered how other families interacted. I was one of seven siblings, and had a hard time understanding what girls with only one brother or sister did for fun, and if they could understand how close we were.

2. When I was a kid, station wagons ruled the roads. There were no DVDs playing on trips to my grandparents, so my father encouraged singing, as it was the least physical activity—with 7 siblings crammed together, “Punch Bug” could soon become a free-for-all! He taught us songs that were easy to remember; as a result, I’m addicted to traditional folk music and there are many snippets of traditional lyrics contained in my works.

3. At the same time, cowboys rode the airwaves, and I really, really wanted to grow up to be a cowboy. Not a cowgirl—they wore silly skirts and sat sideways on horses. I even had a cowboy name—it included “Junior”, as that was the only way I knew to designate myself as a boy. When asked in school (I think I was 8) who the greatest hero in history was, I answered “Roy Rogers”. When the teacher told me he wasn’t a “real hero”, I burst into tears.

4. My first library was a BookMobile. My grandparents lived in a tiny hamlet in Ocean County NJ. The Bookmobile would park at the local grocery store for several hours every week. Tired of kids’ books by the time I was 10, I asked the librarian to recommend something, and she gave me The Virginian by Owen Wister. Slam! Bam!! hooked on Westerns as a literary form. As a result, I read through my father’s entire collection of Zane Grey novels by the end of that summer, and still have and re-read those wonderful books.

Most of the heroes of Grey’s books lived by a code of honor. They may have stumbled from time to time, but they always came back to that moral center. I think that appealed to me so much because I knew the men I looked up to (my father, grandfather and uncle) lived by the same code. And they subsequently became the heroes in my books.

5. I was also influenced by my grandfather in another way. He was stricken with emphysema in his 40s, spent the last 20 years of his life confined to bed, but seldom complained. I learned from him that one must go on, no matter how challenging life might become.

6. Now my family history steps in: my father’s family were Irish immigrants. According to family history, my Great-uncle Sean was chased out of Ireland by the English, escaping by the skin of his teeth. The injustice of that hit me first: a man fighting for freedom from the overlords who invaded his country hundreds of years ago just shouldn’t have been hounded out of the only home he’d known.

7. More recently, I read about a memorial sculpture installed in County Cork that celebrated the aid the Choctaw Tribe in America gave to the Irish during the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1852. My mother has a smidgen of native blood, so the article caught my eye.

The beautiful sculpture, titled Kindred Spirits, was created by Alex Pentek at the Sculpture Factory in Cork, and represents the Choctaw Indians with nine unique feathers, shaped in a bowl that represents a bowl full of food.

8. Shortly before I saw this, my cousin began to create a genealogy of my father’s family. Comparing that history with the dates of the famine, I realized that his ancestors—coming from County Clare as they did—had to have lived through it. I dug into the details and learned it was a totally avoidable disaster that decimated Ireland’s population while food was being exported to England at astronomical rates.

I felt compelled to tell the stories of the survivors—the ones who somehow held body and soul together and found a way to prosper. I began, sporadically, to write.

9. Then, in my late 40s, illness struck. A genetic flaw on my father’s side made itself known. I was fortunate in two ways: I had cousins going through the same thing with whom I could commiserate and share ideas; and I’d finally have enough time to write the books that were stuck in my head for so long, even it was only an hour or so a day.

10. I initially had no plans to go beyond the original manuscript, Whispers In The Canyon. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that the fourth Donovan son, Daniel, was developing into someone quite unique—a Zane Grey-type hero, a man with a code of honor that withstood almost every adversity, and a deep and abiding love for a woman he never thought could be his. Because of all that, I believed Daniel deserved his own book, if only to see if he could find happiness with Annie. Since I’m not a plotter by nature, I had to write the book to find out.

Outcome: The Knight of the Range met up with a family of Irish immigrants. Together, they were generously sprinkled with folksongs and legends, and gave birth to the Donovan Family Saga. The series now consists of the original book, Whispers in the Canyon; the second book about Daniel, The Woodsman’s Rose; and a prequel novella, The Winds of Morning, which I wrote after readers requested more details about the family’s origins in Ireland.

Each story includes romance, traditional song lyrics and a dash of Celtic mysticism. On occasion, I’ve been told by a reader that they’d love living next door to the Donovans. To me, that’s the highest praise ever.

Blurb for WHISPERS IN THE CANYON

A woman’s survival depends upon the man who shot her brother.

Shunned by the village for her outlaw brother’s deeds, Jesse Travers is not sorry to hear he’s been killed while robbing a bank. Strangely enough it’s Adam Donovan, the man who shot him, who brings her the news.

Traumatized by years of abuse, Jesse doubts she can trust any man—especially this Irish immigrant with his volatile temper and gunfighter’s reputation. But now she’s alone, and he’s offered to help put her bankrupt ranch back on solid footing. A profound love for her canyon home is stronger than her trepidation, and she accepts his assistance.

As they work together to improve her ranch, Jesse begins to see that Adam’s true nature is far removed from his notoriety. She feels the first stirrings of love―an emotion she’s never known before. Then, as if to tell her she is unworthy of happiness, her past rises up with a vengeance and she is left with a terrible choice: retreat to a life of solitude and shame, or trust her heart and reveal her tragic secret, in the hope that Adam is the man she believes him to be.

Deceptively simple and poetic, this heartfelt western historical romance will tug at your emotions, make you laugh, cry, and even get a little angry, as it handles difficult topics with a sensitive touch.

Author Bio and Links

Gifford MacShane is the author of historical fiction that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. Her novels feature a family of Irish immigrants who settle in the Arizona Territory. With an accessible literary style, MacShane draws out her characters’ hidden flaws and strengths as they grapple with both physical and emotional conflicts.

MacShane is a member of the Historical Novel Society and an #OwnVoices writer. A self-professed grammar nerd who still loves diagramming sentences, Giff currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband Richard, the Pied Piper of stray cats.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

All my books are listed on my author page at Books2Read.

(https://books2read.com/ap/RDOkLr/Gifford-MacShane).

I’d appreciate it if you’d use this buy link rather than the individual Amazon links, as the two later books are available in many formats.

Just Keep Showing Up and Shining Out!

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Candace Colt sharing her multi-act life and Familiar Blessings, Book 1 in the Magic Potter Series.

Here’s Candace!

I’m honored to be a part of Joanne’s Second Act Series. Reading the other Second Act posts has been so inspiring, and I am sure you feel the same way. May I add that when you read another person’s story, and it doesn’t sound exactly like yours, perhaps you will find encouragement that change can be good no matter what the circumstances. Maybe you’ve already made a change (planned or unplanned). Another person’s story might give you the reassurance that you will be “okay.” The most important thing is this: have trust and faith in yourself!

First Act

“In my day,” a woman’s career options were a bit limited. That’s an understatement. Honestly, there few choices. Wife and mother (in tandem), nurse, airline stewardess, secretary, teacher. All worthy paths, yes. But even with a professional degree, many women quit the job after they got married. In my case, I got married, but I did not stop working. In fact, except for a few in-between-job periods, I worked full time until I retired in 2014.

I followed the teacher track and taught K-6 for several years. But then my husband’s job took us to a university town where teaching jobs were non-existent. Why? Because all the male grad students’ wives were teachers supporting their husbands. Does this sound familiar?

So, what’s a girl to do? Reinvention!

By some miracle, I was accepted into a Nuclear Medicine Technology program, with not much clue what that was! After graduation, I was hired, and naturally, I was the queen of the world! Then, a teaching job opened up in the field (college educator) that took me on a glorious seventeen-year journey. But then program funding disappeared, and there went that dream job! Another career change led me into entry-level college administration. Then to a college library director position (hello, I’m not a librarian!), where I had ten great years working with the best people in the world.

Fast Forward to the Second Act!

Retirement provided me the wherewithal to follow my heart to become a writer. Trust me, writing and promotion is full-time work, but I love it. Since I’ve retired, I’ve had nine books published in contemporary paranormal romance. By the way, each one has a wise older woman in the story. Imagine that?

I am nothing if not persistent. I don’t possess great intellectual genius. My changes were out of necessity rather than a master plan. If you ask me for advice, I will keep it simple. Paraphrasing my yoga teacher, no matter who you are or where you are in life,”Just keep showing up and shining out!”

Blurb

Familiar Blessings: The Magic Potter Series Book 1 (Cat’s Paw Cove Romance)

The magic begins when you trust your heart.

Tired of being hounded by the greedy dead, gifted medium Dr. Theodosia Blessing, the wonder-child of historians around the world, yearned for anonymity. After renouncing her magic, she reinvented herself as Theo, the potter. She returned to her hometown of Cat’s Paw Cove, Florida, where she lives with her familiar, a mind-reading tortoiseshell cat named Aloysius.

Former Army Ranger Ethan Cooper was content to live a reclusive life in his cabin in North Carolina. But as Christmas draws near, he agrees to repay a debt to an old man whose wise counsel brought him out of war’s dark shadow. Ethan accepts one last mission: to track down Theo.

Ethan appears unannounced on Theo’s doorstep with an envelope containing the old man’s letter. If what it says is true, the reluctant medium, skeptical Ranger, and wiseacre cat must travel back to 1720 to save a young boy from the gallows.

FAMILIAR BLESSINGS originally appeared in MEOWS & MISTLETOE, a Cat’s Paw Cove Romance Holiday Anthology. It won the 2019 Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers’ Choice Award.

Excerpt

Curious but cautious, Theo hesitated, then carefully opened the parchment envelope and removed the folded paper.

She waved the letter at the stranger. “You drove all the way from North Carolina to give me this?”

“I suggested he could mail it certified, but he said it was too important. The old man’s my loyal friend, so I couldn’t refuse.”

Who was behind this? A stranger shows up with a letter an old man gave him. Sure.

Have I ever lied to you? Read it.

Theo glanced down at her cat, Aloysius. “Hush.” She noticed the man’s confusion. “Didn’t mean you.” He was obviously an Ordinary and hadn’t heard a word the cat said.

Theo cleared an imagined tickle in her throat and unfolded the paper. The ink had smudged in a few places, but the handwriting was legible. Her archivist expertise told her this was written in old English. F was used for S. The sentences were sprinkled with thee and thou.

In her former university position, she had analyzed documents like this before. Why would someone want this one hand-carried all the way to Florida when there were competent researchers in North Carolina?

Aloysius gave her ankle a ‘get-on-with-it’ shove. Read it out loud so the human can hear.

“All right, already.” She took a breath and began reading.

Dearest Theodosia,

I suspect thou hast many concerns about the manner in which this letter came to thee.

Please read it to the end. Trust ’tis written with the intentions of someone who loved and has watched over thee since thee was born.

Theodosia Blessing, thou comest from an old family. Thy God-given gift must continue–.

Theo’s throat tightened, and words bunched inside. Besides her family, only one living being on this earth knew her reason to abandon the magic: the ten-pound cat sitting at her feet.

Buy/Read

Candace’s Cat’s Paw Cove Romance Books are available on Amazon.

Candace’s Nocturne Falls Universe Books are available here:

Kindle | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

About the Author

Candace Colt lives the good life on Florida’s west coast with her husband of 48 years. After careers in education and the medical field, she launched her second life as a writer. Since she retired, she’s published nine paranormal romance books. She chose paranormal because it’s fun to write and because even shape-shifters, elves, psychics and time travelers deserve their happily ever after.

Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Amazon Author Page | Bookbub | Goodreads

Book Blast: The Coach’s Wife

I’m happy tow welcome award-winning author Barbara Casey. Today, Barbara shares her new release, The Coach’s Wife.

Blurb

The Cinderella Coyotes of State University are in the Final Four, poised to win the NCAA National Championship in basketball—the culmination of March Madness. For Marla Conners, she’s proud of her husband Neal, and his achievement of coaching a collegiate team to the pinnacle of his career and the ultimate victory for his team. Yet, Marla’s idyllic life is about to be viciously attacked and torn apart by a different madness—her husband’s reputation ruined, a university disgraced, and she finds herself on trial accused of first-degree murder.

The Coach’s Wife is rife with spine-tingling suspense, conspiracy, deceit, and murder, sizzling and seductive passion, right down to the last second buzzer-beating heroics. This is also a candid and vivid behind-the-scenes portrait of Division One college basketball, university politics, money and corruption, and all the lives that are blessed and ruined by it all.

Excerpt

Another deafening roar exploded from the coliseum, and when it did Marla threw down her partially smoked cigarette and ground it into the polished tile floor with the toe of her shoe. Quickly she reached for another cigarette from the opened pack in her small red handbag. She lit it, sucked the smoke into her mouth, held her breath, coughed, and then slowly released it. Marla didn’t smoke, but when she paced up and down the hallways of basketball coliseums, puffing on cigarettes seemed appropriate. It gave her something to do with her hands, and it helped keep her sane.

“God, how I hate this.” Gale Simmons, the gray-haired woman pacing in the same direction as Marla, was married to one of the assistant coaches at Piedmont State. She, along with several other women—also wives of coaches, some of them wives of players—were known as the hall walkers. They were the women who met on a regular but unscheduled basis the last two minutes of every game, pacing the halls, smoking, or pretending to in Marla’s case, and trying to give each other encouragement. Unable to watch the most crucial time of the game—that last two minutes—they paced in heart-pounding agony, listening to the fans erupt in cheers or boos, and to the announcer scream out the play-by-play over the public address system.

It didn’t matter which team they supported. The bond they shared went beyond the game and winning or losing. It was after the game that most mattered. If their team won, it meant going through the torture one more time, but at least their husbands would be happy. If their team lost, it meant their husbands would go through weeks of depression and as their wives they would have to put up with an impenetrable wall of silence broken only by an occasional negative outburst—usually directed toward them. Each of the hall walkers had experienced it. And it was that experience more than any other that cemented the friendship between them.

With thirty seconds to go, the score is 76 all. This is a hot one, folks. Let’s see what the Seawolf pack is going to do. Sydney Rob makes an inbound pass into the back court to Jerry March—the clock is moving, folks. Jerry lobs the ball back over to Rob. Rob passes it over to Miller in the right court.

Interception by Darrell Washington! Holy cow, sports fans! The Seawolf’s Sydney Rob loses the ball to the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest has the ball. Washington bringing it down court. Fifteen seconds on the clock.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Author Bio and Links

Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her nonfiction true crime book, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. Her nonfiction book, Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave, is under contract for a major film. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara is also a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in cutting-edge adult nonfiction. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her three cats who adopted her: Homer, a southern bobtail; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.

http://www.barbaracaseyauthor.com | http://www.barbaracaseyagency.com

Giveaway

Barbara Casey will be awarding a $25 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn commenter. Find out more here.

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

Grab That Dream and Shake the Stuffing Out of It

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have multi-genre author D.V. Stone sharing an inspirational post about her life journey.

Here’s Donna!

Briefly describe your first act.

Daughter, wife, mom, employee, volunteer EMT, we all have a variation of the first act, don’t we? We’re young and have hopes and dreams of who we want to be and where we want to be. The idea that love lasts forever. Children will be exactly who we want them to be. Our job is something we leap out of bed in the morning to get to. Our life will make a difference.

Then the reality hits. We learn love doesn’t last for everyone. Illness strikes. Your child decides to leave and go live with his father. A second job is needed to make ends meet. Anyone living the fantasy in paradise? Of course, to various degrees, not. Different times and challenges often suck the joy and hope out of us.

What triggered the need for change?

Everyone’s triggers are different and can happen in a series of unfortunate events. (Did you just think of Lemony Snicket?) My triggers were a series. Divorce in my early thirties. Re-marriage (this time a keeper). The child mentioned above moved out and broke my heart. A second job is needed to make ends meet. Then business failures. Don’t stop here and think it’s all bad all the time. This is real life, remember? Not the impossible images of the perfect family on TV and in commercials. But it’s the nitty-gritty life that is often messy. Then came not the most significant trigger, but the one that brought me to today. Today where I’m sitting and typing this. I worked at a job for nine years. It was the one I most enjoyed. One where I felt I made a difference most days. One of those days, I showed up for work, then was shown the door. It was a time when the economy tanking had hit hard, and my position was eliminated. Unemployed for the first time in almost thirty years. After a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself, the thought came, “You finally have time. What do you want to be when you grow up?” I grabbed my computer.

Where are you now?

So here I am today. I have five published books—both independent and traditionally published. I run two different author blogs. I’m back at work but not for long. The Third Act retirement is beckoning, and when you read this, it’s only a month away. My DH and I bought a camper, and we’re planning on seeing the country. I have so many books and pieces of books I’m itching to get to. So this show is going on the road.

Do you have advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?

Fear nearly brought my publishing dreams to a halt. What if nobody likes my writing? What if I make a fool out of myself? What if I’m just bad at it? My advice is more of a question. Who are you going to listen to? The voice that says you can’t? Or are you going to take a leap of faith to grab that dream and shake the stuffing out of it? Tear it up and put it back together in a way that works for you—today. Don’t let old dreams pass by unfulfilled. Take them out of the box you’ve shoved them into. Look at them. Really look. They may be unrealistic. But maybe we can make it a more reasonable achievement. You may never be the princess of your youthful dreams. But you can write about one. Perhaps even in the first person. Have you always dreamed of being a singer? Same thing. Even if you can’t sing worth a dime, you’ll always have music. What were your dreams, and how can they be brought forward to today?

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

I love this quote.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou

Blurb

Aden House, successful but driven chef and TV personality, refuses to slow down. His life implodes one night, damaging him both physically and emotionally. He’s rescued by a woman he thinks of as his angel.

Shay McDowell has rebuilt her life after her divorce. She juggles volunteer EMT duties and her job, while dreaming of becoming a chef. She finds her way to Rock House Grill and back into the life of the man she helped save.

Can love be the ingredient needed to survive the many obstacles they face?

Excerpt

“Easy, you’re going to be okay.” A soft voice eased through the chaos around him. The owner of the voice grabbed his arms and held them in a firm but gentle grip. “I’m right here with you. You are not alone.” “Can hardly m-move.” His voice slurred. “C-can’t see anything.” “You’ve been in an accident. I’m an EMT with the ambulance squad,” the velvety voice calmly explained. “You can’t see well because we’re under a tarp. Hold still, okay?” “‘K.” A small light flickered at the edge of his vision. It shone into a bag next to him. Penlight. “You’re restrained to a board. It’s to keep your head from moving and causing more injury.” She continued to talk to him. The voice reached down somewhere inside him, calming and peaceful, so he focused on it. A glow from spotlights on the outside lit whatever covered them. The shadow gave the woman the appearance of a halo—like an angel.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBook | Google Books | Kobo

Author Bio

Hi, my name is D. V. Stone. I am a multi-genre author of two independently published books. Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar is a fantasy romance. Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake is a mid-grade paranormal. Recently, Rock House Grill was released by Wild Rose Press. Rainbow Sprinkles, a novella released on July 8th. I also host Welcome to the Campfire and A Peek Through the Window, both weekly blogs. Here’s a little more about me.

Born in Brooklyn, D.V. Stone has moved around a bit and even lived for a time on a dairy farm in Minnesota before moving back east. Throughout her wandering, she always considered herself a Jersey Girl. She met and married the love of her life, Pete—a lifelong Jersey Man, and moved this time to Sussex County. They live with Hali, a mixed breed from the local shelter, and their cat Baby.

D.V.’s career path varied from working with the disabled to become a volunteer EMT, which in turn led to working in hospital emergency rooms and then in a women’s state prison. After a few years, she took a break from medicine and became the owner of Heavenly Brew, a specialty coffee shop in Sparta, NJ, and a small restaurant in Lafayette. Life handed some setbacks, and she ended up back in the medical field, but this time in a veterinary emergency hospital.

“Thank you for taking the time to read about me. Each time you open the pages to one of my books, I hope you’ll be swept away by the story and find encouragement in your own life, never to give up on hope.”

Where to find D.V. Stone…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Bookbub | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Page

One-Stop Link

Other Books by D. V. Stone

Rainbow Sprinkles
After the storm come the rainbows.

Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar
One foolish thought. One brutal act. Instead of a peaceful alliance––war.

Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake
A Mid-grade paranormal

Australia Burns
Anthology – Contributing Author

Laugh Out Loud!

Today is International Moment of Laughter Day, a day set aside to remind us to laugh out loud each day. According to originator Izzy Gesell, “Laughter comes right after breathing as just about the healthiest thing you can do. It relieves, stress, instills optimism, raises self-confidence, defuses resistance to change, and enhances all your relationships.”

Science backs up Izzy’s claims:

A recent study of 53,556 people in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that women who have a strong sense of humor live longer. The reason? Laughter bolsters the immune system to ward off disease.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors’ blog.

10 Interesting Facts about The Vampire with a Blanket of Stars


I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Susan Hanniford Crowley. Today, Susan shares ten interesting facts about The Vampire with a Blanket of Stars, Book 3 in the Arnhem Knights of New York Series and the cover reveal for Lady Fallon’s Dragons.

Here’s Susan!

I love writing paranormal adventure romance with a deep abiding passion. The Vampire with a Blanket of Stars is the 3rd in my series Arnhem Knights of New York, which is a spinoff from my first series Vampires in Manhattan. I will share with your ten fun-filled facts, then where to find me and my books, and a sneak peek at the cover of my upcoming novel.

Fact 1

I dreamt about Vampire Prince Răzvan and his story. It took about 6-8 months to have and write down all the dreams. Then it took a year and a half to research and verify the factual parts of the book.

Fact 2

The name of characters are very important to me. When I first had Răzvan’s name, I looked up the first and last name in Bucharest, Romania. There were several Răzvans, which didn’t bother me as it’s a popular name in Romanian history. However, I found a young man with the same first and last name as my character. Since my character lives in Bucharest for some of the time, I didn’t want a real person to be burdened with the name of a vampire mistakenly associated with him. I returned to the dreams and got a new clearer view of the name: Răzvan Forţă.

Răzvan means the bringer of good news. The name comes from the Geto-Dacians who inhabited the land that would become Romania.

His surname Forţă means force or power.

Fact 3

Half of the book happens during WWII in Romania. The few atrocities shown in the book actually happened.

Fact 4

Prince Răzvan is an older vampire than Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Both of these characters are fictional.

Prince Vlad III Dracula, also called Vlad Țepeș, who was a prince of Wallachia, part of Romania, was a real person who fought the Turks and frightened them from returning with a battlefield full of the enemies’ heads impaled on sharp poles. In Romania, he revered even today as a national hero.
Prince Răzvan is the 7th son of a King of Dacia, as Dacia was the land before it was Romania. Dacia existed between 168 BC and 106 AD.

Fact 5

It was common for royals that if you had an heir and sometimes a spare but if you had more sons, appropriate occupations for them would be to become a soldier or a monk. Daughters were married off to other royals to form alliances.

Răzvan became a soldier that fought for his country. When he became a vampire, he still fought for his modern day nation of Romania.

Fact 6

Vampires are called strigoi in Romania. What makes a strigoi different? In Romanian folklore, there is a living strigoi and dead strigoi. The living one blends in with everyone else. Day or night doesn’t make any difference. The dead one rises from the grave at night. What they both share is an intense love for whatever they loved in life. If a strigoi enjoyed great food, after death their love for great food would cause them to seek it and eat everything in a friend’s kitchen. Just an example.

Fact 7

The disintegration in sunlight is an invention of Hollywood.

My vampires can walk in the day but are cautious with overexertion in sunlight or spending too much time in their direct rays. The damage the sun does to human is sped up a little in my vampires. They wear protective clothing and sunblock. Spending two days uncovered in direct rays could kill most of my vampire characters.

Fact 8

Hoia Baciu is an actual place and one of the most famous haunted forests in the world. It is considered the Bermuda Triangle of Romania. It is famous for UFO and paranormal activities. Oh, it I mention it’s in the part of the country called Transylvania?

In my novel, I added to the paranormal activity there. (Laughs) I couldn’t help myself.

Fact 9

Readers have told me that they are astounded that many of my vampires of religious. Prince Răzvan has an old friend from the war who is a Romanian Orthodox (Christian) priest.

Fact 10

Other readers have said they were surprised that my vampires are just like ordinary people. Something bad happened to them (becoming a vampire) but they are able to use it for the good of others. They are heroes. When a vampire finds their true lifemate, that person is their beloved for all time.

Love helps all of us endure the hardships of life. Love is the strength of my vampires and other supernatural heroes and heroines.

Buy Links

To find all my books on Amazon both the Kindle and the Print, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Hanniford-Crowley/e/B004YXOGXG

To find them everywhere:
Nook | Kobo | Smashwords | Walmart Books

Where to find Susan

Website | Blog | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Instagram

Coming soon: Lady Fallon’s Dragons. This is a dragon adventure book with a sweet romance in it. Lady Fallon’s Dragons is a wondrous tale of contemporary dragons and a young woman fighting for her life. Here is the cover reveal!

Thank you for sharing my adventure with me today! If you have any questions, feel free to put them in the comment box.

Spotlight on Susan Varno

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Susan Varno. Today, Susan shares her creative journey and debut novel, A Rebel and Her Rogue.

When I was eleven years old, I saw Walt Disney’s PETER PAN at our neighborhood movie theater. On her adventure in Neverland, Wendy learned you have to get taller and older, but you never have to give up make-believe. And so I never have.

In college I started to major in Creative Writing but realized I didn’t know what I wanted to write. A degree in Political Science from American University in Washington D. C. led to three years of teaching 7th graders.

Back home in Chicago, I married the quintessential bad boy who I tamed without meaning to. We had two sons. Staying home to raise these little darlings gave me a good deal of free time, especially when they went off to school. Then I realized all my Wendy fantasies were romances. I wrote and published romantic short stories and personal experience humor.

Over the years I’ve had a variety of jobs. The most satisfying was running the local office of an Illinois State Representative. Much of my time was spent helping constituents who had problems with various aspects of state government. I heard many stories; poignant, desperate, sometimes funny, and none of which I’m allowed to repeat. During that time I tried writing contemporary romance novels but had no success.

Instead, I concentrated on writing pieces I had a better chance of publishing. For twenty-five years, I wrote columns and reviews for Video Views Magazine. After my husband and I retired to the Arkansas Ozarks, I published over 450 articles in magazines and newspapers about the people, culture, and history of the Ozarks.

My husband died three years ago. I miss my hero every day. I moved back to Illinois where I joined Windy City RWA. Their members inspired me to try a romance novel. The market had changed. There are many smaller publishers. Amazon and Facebook make self promoting easier though more competitive.

Historicals have always been my favorite genre. What intrigues me most is how women with courage and ingenuity establish power in a male dominated world. Last year Debbie Gilbert at Soul Mate Publishing accepted my Regency novel A REBEL AND HER ROGUE. I’ve just completed the second book in my series The Shady Side of the Law with POSING AS A PRINCESS.

Tagline

His secret death wish, her reckless behavior. After Blake thwarts Cassie’s scheme to rob him, he wants to marry the diabolical damsel. Can these two hell raisers tame each other?

Condensed Excerpt

Cassie waited in the library to speak with Blake. Did he think his delay would throw her into a terrified tizzy? She would “tizzy” for no man.

The door flew open. Blake kicked it shut behind him. “I apologize for my behavior yesterday.”

“I understand.” She twisted her fingers together. “You needed to know what I was up to.” Cassie couldn’t bear to look at him. He was the most striking man she’d ever seen. Power defined his every move.

“I let the masquerade go on too long,” he said. “I enjoyed playing the highwayman.”

She stared at her tightly clasped fingers. “Last night, I told your mother I will return home as soon as possible.”

“You can’t leave. You came to see if we suit each other.”

He strode toward her. Yesterday, his nearness excited her. Today, he was crowding her.

Cassie looked into his intense blue eyes. “Sir, I intended to rob you of six hundred pounds.”

He grinned. “That was your original plan. When you believed I was the highwayman Dangerous Dan Durgan, you wanted us to run off to Australia together. That was just before you invited me to kiss you.”

This man enjoyed making sport of her. Unlike yesterday, she would not let his needle pricks unhinge her.

“You missed my meaning. I long for the freedom of a highwayman. Those were fanciful thoughts. Not to mention, at the time I believed you were an outlaw. A far more respectable occupation than full time rogue.” Too late to bite back her words, and she had promised herself to be civil.

He blew out his breath. “I am going about this all wrong. Let me try anew. I would consider marrying you.”

A frisson of panic streaked through her. “Why would you want to marry me?”

Slowly, he eyed her body, down and back up with pauses at her hips and bosom. She felt like a heifer at a Market Day auction.

Inside her head she yelled, Stop talking and start smiling. He said he might marry me. However, she was Cassiopeia Valient, incapable of holding her tongue. Why couldn’t she force herself to be meek, charming, and gracious? The last two, she could manage. Being “meek” tripped her up.

In this battle of wills and won’ts, she pressed home her slim advantage. “Are you in love with me?”

He looked startled. “Madam, I hardly know you.”

Blake falling on his knees and admitting he’d fallen in love at first sight was too much to expect.

Cassie thrust again. “If we marry, you will let me do whatever I want?”

His grin turned into a leering smile. “Of course not. What excitement we’ll have. Screams, doors slammed, a little wrestling. Followed by…”

She could guess the rest of his thoughts. He expects to spend his life stirring me to explode. His bizarre proposal arrives at the moment I’ve vowed to abandon my reckless ways.

Social Links

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Trust That Little Voice Within

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Guelph author Wendy Stross sharing her inspiring reinvention story and first novel, A Love to Behold.

Here’s Wendy!

Act One

When contemplating this blog and what to share, I realize that throughout my life I have had various endeavours, various acts, and consider myself to be very much a student of life. With that said, at the age of nineteen, I became a registered nurse working in a downtown Toronto hospital. I worked on a surgical unit, part of which was directed to the treatment and care of patients with lung cancer. Once, when working a night shift, a couple of nurses and I were talking about what we would do if, at some time, we stopped nursing. “A writer,” I replied without thinking. My answer took me by surprise. I thought, “Now where did that come from?” I could never have imagined that one day I would hold a Ph.D. in History from the University of Toronto, and later still, write and publish a novel, A Love to Behold. So, how did I get from nurse to writer?

Years later when my husband and I had moved to Guelph and my children were in school, I registered as a full-time student at the local university. At the time, I had absolutely no interest in taking history. Truthfully, when in high school, if someone had told me one day I would become an historian, I would have told them they were crazy. History then was about kings, people with money, and those who held political, legal and/or religious power. There were few, if any, women, children – no ordinary individuals such as myself. As such, the subject held little interest for me. But, timing is everything. Two decades later when I returned to university, history as a discipline of study was undergoing significant changes. It was about social and cultural history, directed to including those individuals who had previously been ignored, silenced, excluded from the historical narrative. I thought, “Okay, this interests me.”

This new history demanded a great imagination. One had to examine old sources in new ways, to imagine new possibilities of discovering and learning about those individuals who had been ghosted from the past. In looking at old sources in new ways, historians were coming to new understandings about the past. I found this new direction exciting. I don’t think it was an accident that at the same time I was doing my Ph.D., my interest in spirituality was sparked, first through reading, then being a member of a goddess circle, and attending various spiritual workshops. Again, it was about expanding my worldview, using my imagination.

What triggered the need for change?

After earning my doctorate, for the next few years, I did some contract work and volunteering at the local city museum. Initially, I loved the experience of working in my community, discovering its past through material culture. But over time, I had this feeling that I didn’t belong there anymore. At the same time, both my parents were ill and I felt drained, physically, emotionally, and mentally. And even though I had no idea what I was going to do next, I decided to leave.

Where am I now?

So, why turn to fiction? In nursing, in the study of history and in working at the museum, I came upon a world of stories, past and present, stories we tell ourselves, stories that shape who we are. I became interested in the possibilities of these stories – possibilities not just seen, but the unseen, the undocumented, the unexplored possibilities imagined, but perhaps not written about.

When doing a doctorate in history, it was necessary to write something original, something new yet to be addressed. And so, when turning to fiction, I wanted to write something unique, a different kind of love story. A couple of years earlier I had heard a woman on the radio talk about the love and relationship she had shared with her twin flame. She described their love as deeply respectful and unconditional, one that consistently honoured the other’s choices and situations. I began to wonder what that kind of relationship would look like. How would it manifest in an ordinary life? And what would that look like if one twin flame was still alive, but one was dead and across the veil? A Love to Behold is the product of my wondering, my imagining.

It was only as I was preparing for the virtual book launch of A Love to Behold, that I came to fully appreciate all that I have accomplished. For a long time, I questioned what I was doing in terms of my career. To be a writer was something I never could have imagined for myself. And the fact that I have written and published my first novel is amazing to me.

Do you have any advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?

The best advice I ever received was from my husband. My first written assignment as a university student was a philosophy paper on Plato’s Republic. Prior to this, the extent of my writing had been the weekly grocery list. The Saturday before the essay was due, I went up to my study. Hours passed, and finally my husband came upstairs and dared to ask me how it was going.

I burst out crying. “I can’t do this! It’s too hard!” In all that time, I had not been able to put a single word down on paper.

Once my husband had recovered from his shock, he said, “Wendy, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just write down your thoughts, and slowly it will come to you. You can always go back and edit it.”

While he was talking about writing, I think it is true for life in general. Beginning anything new is scary, and it is hard. Looking back on my journey from nurse, to historian, and now novelist, I have come to appreciate how much courage it took to keep going. I remember handing in a draft of my first chapter of my doctoral thesis to my supervisor who then returned it with comments. I asked him if I should edit it. He answered, “No. Keep going. It is only when you reach the end that you will finally know what your book is about.” Wise words, I still hold dear.

Affirmation to Share

Love yourself and be kind to yourself. Trust that little voice within, even if at times, it seems to make no sense. It is leading you somewhere, someplace that you can’t even imagine – yet.

Blurb

This is the story of Anne and Archie. Boy meets Girl. Boy loses Girl. Boy finally gets Girl. Sounds ordinary? Well yes, until you realize Boy meets Girl, and they are together for three months. Boy loses Girl for forty-three years, and does not get Girl until after his death when he returns to tell her she was the love of his life. It is an amazing love story, full of promise, hardship, and the growing awareness of the immense and unconditional love shared by these twin flames.

Excerpt

As she turned the key in the ignition, Anne decided to stop at “the Gathering” – an annual event sponsored by a local store that specialized in spirituality. It was around 10:30 and the church auditorium was humming with activity. Tables of the various vendors, healers, and mediums were scattered throughout the room.

Jennifer, a friend, called to her, “Hey kid, what are you doing here?”

“Probably procrastinating! I’ve never been to this event and was curious.” Jennifer was an energy practitioner who did Reiki and Reflexology, and Anne asked if she had a table here.

Jennifer said no, that this kind of event was not conducive to the healing work she did – too busy and noisy. “Actually, I’m just leaving. My daughter has dance in an hour. See you at Friday yoga?”

Anne nodded, waved bye and started to wander. Everything from aromatherapy, crystals, jewelry, Christmas decorations and baking, as well as various healers offering their services were to be found in this one room. She was thinking she should go when from the corner of her eye, she spotted a woman seated at a table; her sign read “Susan Barker, Psychic Medium – Readings – $60 for 30 minutes.” Anne had had readings from psychics before, some good, some not so good. She was not familiar with this one. Anne circled the room once more, but found herself drawn back to psychic Sue. Ms. Barker looked to be around fifty, heavy-set, and reminded Anne of a beloved great-aunt. She was free at the moment, so Anne paid her money and sat down for a reading.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, the medium was pretty on track. Anne’s grandmother had come through, saying Anne had come by her love of books from her.

“Was there something at the end whereby she couldn’t talk?”

“Yes, she had a stroke that affected her throat. She could neither swallow nor speak at the end.”

The psychic said that her grandmother regretted she was unable to say some of the things she had wanted to say. That she was very proud of Anne and of all she had accomplished while being a wife and mother. Moments later, Sue looked above Anne’s head, her eyes widening in surprise.

“Your soulmate’s here, standing behind you!”

Stunned, Anne leaned forward to ensure she had heard correctly. “I’m sorry. What?” And then, shaking her head, she said, “You must be mistaken. I’ve been married over forty years and to my knowledge, my husband is very much alive.”

Bio

Throughout her life, Wendy has had various endeavours and considers herself to be very much a student of life. As well as being a wife, mother, and grandmother, she has been a registered nurse, has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Toronto, and has earned a Certificate in Museum Studies from the Ontario Museum Association.

The common thread underlying all her pursuits is Wendy’s lifelong passion for all things spiritual and unknown. At one point in her life, Wendy was a member of a goddess circle. The goddess experience, being part of a circle of women, opened Wendy up to the possibilities of magic in the world, to the possibilities within herself.

Over the last few years, she has attended various spiritual workshops which further fueled her interest in subjects such as soul contracts, soul ages, reincarnation, and meditation, prayer, dreams – all means by which one is able to connect with the wisdom of Spirit, God, one’s High Self, spirit guides and angels. And Wendy was astounded to learn that she could converse with and access the wisdom of her soul, her High Self, God, her spirit guides and angels through various means. The understanding that one could communicate with those spirits across the veil, that across the veil relationships were real and are possible served as inspiration for A Love to Behold, her first novel.

So, why turn to fiction? In the study of cultural and social history, in efforts to gain a more inclusive understanding and vision of the past, Wendy came upon a world of stories, past and present, stories we tell ourselves, the stories that shape who we are. And she became interested in the possibilities of these stories – possibilities not just seen, but the unseen, the undocumented, the unexplored possibilities imagined but perhaps not written about.

Wendy has long desired to write a novel, a love story, about the immense and unconditional love shared by twin flames. What would that kind of love and relationship look like? How would it manifest in an ordinary life? And what would that look like if one twin flame was still alive, but one was dead and across the veil? A Love to Behold is the product of Wendy’s wondering – her imagining.

Social Media and Buy Link

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The recording of the virtual book launch of A Love To Behold on March 7th is now on YouTube. Here’s the link.