Born To Be A Storyteller

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Rayanne Haines sharing her inspiring journey and her debut novel, Fire Born.

Here’s Rayanne!

Finding my way to this second act of my life has been less painful, and more painful than I ever thought it could be. I grew up quite sheltered on a small horse farm. Naïve but also desperately unhappy in my home life and wanting something more. At nineteen, I married my teenage sweetheart. At twenty-three I had my first son. At twenty-six my second. At twenty-seven I was divorced, with only a high school diploma, and living in support housing trying to raise two little boys.

I always dreamed of being a writer. I often felt I was born to be a storyteller. Frequently felt that my dream world was more real than reality. My children are everything to me. But I also knew the only way I would survive being a single parent was to fight for myself and my dreams. So, at twenty-eight I enrolled in college to take a Cultural Management degree. From there I worked for different Arts organizations—An activist film festival, a record label, a local choir. My children were with me every step of the way, often attending meetings and work functions when babysitters were unavailable or unaffordable.

Six years ago, I made the decision to focus on my own art. I became the executive director for The Edmonton Poetry Festival and began my journey into writing. Yes, later than planned, but completely and organically the way it was meant to happen. In 2013, I released my first collection of poetry. For the next several years I focused on submitted poems to magazines and anthologies, as well as honing my performance style as a spoken word poet.

In 2015, the idea for Fire Born, Book One of the Guardian Series, came to me in a dream. I began the work of writing a novel, with no previous training and no real understanding of what I was embarking on. I muddled my way through the first draft, and the second before asking for support from a few authors I knew and respected. Their advice? Go back to the drawing board and ask your characters who they are, instead of trying to guess. It took me a while to understand what they meant. But eventually I got it. I looked at my own life, where I’d come from, what I’d overcome. I had to know my characters as well as I knew myself if I wanted other readers to engage with them.

After a year of learning, and re-working, Fire Born was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing. Very quickly after, they signed me to a four-book deal! I’ve just completed book two of the series and am starting on book three.

I’ve also completed a Novel-in-Verse that will be released in the April of 2018. The poetic novel tells the story of an Italian family’s immigration from Italy to Canada, through three female voices, in poems.

I’m also marrying the love of my life three days after the release of Fire Born. My Italian lover has been very much an inspiration for all the heroes in my novels. My children will be walking me down the aisle.

My second act was hard fought and worth every bumpy step. I truly believe I would not be here if I’d never divorced. The struggle created a strength in me that helped push me to reach for my dreams, to search for great love, and to write about strong women who will accept nothing less.

Blurb

Independent, tough as nails, and fierce to her core, Alex Taleisin can’t quite believe it when she has to fight for her life against something not-quite-human in the YMCA parking lot.

hat’s when her Aunt lets her in on the family secret. They’re Immortal – Elementals to be precise and Alex is the long-lost daughter of one of the strongest female warriors of their time.

Her Guardian (a freaking Dragon!) and the sexiest man Alex has ever seen gives her a choice. Go with him, learn how to control fire, and find her father’s people or try to survive on her own. It’s an easy choice considering she’s only twenty-six and the Elders may already be on her trail thanks to the run in with the nut job in the parking lot kick-starting her dormant DNA.

Enter an insane grandfather, a shifter with a hidden agenda, and a witch with a shoe addiction. Suddenly Alex is wishing for a quiet house in the hills with the dragon she’s falling for. But a fight is coming and Alex knows the only way find her answers is to trust her powers and become the warrior she was destined to be.

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Where to find Rayanne Haines…

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Joanne here!

Rayanne, your remarkable journey is an inspiring one that will linger in my consciousness. Thanks so much for sharing and best of luck with Fire Born.


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Remembering Princess Diana

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since the untimely death of Princess Diana. I can vividly recall listening to the media reports and then sitting, eyes glued to the television screen, on the day of her funeral.

I was especially moved by Elton John’s tribute to the People’s Princess.


10 All-Time Favorite Books

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Peggy Jaeger to the Power of 10 Series. Today, Peggy will share ten of her all-time favorite books and her new release, Passion’s Palette.

Here’s Peggy!

Joanne – thanks so much for having me on your blog today!

I think it goes hand in hand with being a writer that you are also, first and last, a reader. I read at a very young age and practically grew up in my local library. I was a latch key kid from the age of 8 on, so every day after school I went to the library until 6 pm. The library was so many things to me: refuge, a safe place to hangout, a world of knowledge, a universe of opportunity, my friend. My love of books is something I will carry with me until the day I leave this earth.

I read all the time. Even when I am writing—the time editors will tell you to never read anyone else’s works—I read. And I re-read. A lot. Below are my ten all time favorite books that I have read multiple times each. 9 are fiction, and the last is a writing reference tool that sits on my desk next to my laptop and is dog-earred, filled with notes and post-it’s and used daily when I am writing. I think these books define me in many ways – as a writer and a reader.

#1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read this when I was 10 and have re-read it once a year since then. I always find something new that I didn’t notice before when I re-read it. By today’s standards, this book could be considered racist. I tend to look at it as a timeless love story between two hard-headed people. Rhett and Scarlett were meant for each other and their love affair just happens to take place during one of the most horrific time periods of our country.

#2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This book is the reason I am a romance book lover. I read it for the first time when I was 11 and even though I had a hard time with the period language, I knew it was a story for anyone who looks for love to triumph over social class, economic differences, and societal quirks.

#3. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. Talk about a great love story. When it first came out it was banned by the Catholic Church, so, since I am a Catholic, of course I had to read it. Strip the religion from this book and you’ve still got a love story for the ages and a book that is so beautifully lyrical the way it is written, it is a joy to read.

#4. New York to Dallas by JD Robb. In truth, I love all the IN DEATH books, but this one is the only one that made me cry, actually weep tears, at the love between Eve Dallas and Roarke. In one of the final scenes, Lt. Eve Dallas has just had a knockdown, drag-out fight with a serial killer. She’s battered, bruised, and a little loopy from the painkillers they’ve given her. She’s speaking to her good friend Dr. Charlotte Mira, with Eve’s husband – the panty-dropping Roarke, in the background.

Eve says: “Want to finish, give my report. Is my face messed up? I hate when that happens. Not like I’m pretty or anything, but—”
“You’re the most beautiful woman ever born,” Roarke said from the doorway, and Eve sent him a woozy, drugged smile.

I just cried writing that!!!

#5. French Silk by Sandra Brown. I would read a book about the alphabet if Sandra Brown wrote it, but FRENCH SILK was one of the few books that ever kept me guessing right up until the last page. That rarely happens for me. A cast of characters that were delicious to read about and a past story/plotline that knocked my socks off. Truly, a fabulous read.

#6. Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. The first romance I read that actually had SEX for all to read about and experience. Woodiwiss opened the bedroom door and thank goodness she did! Still a classic love and romance story to this day. So richly written and described.

#7. Domina by Barbara Wood. There are very few books out there that take the time to not only be historically accurate, but give you a kick ass bunch of heroines in the mix. This book was about female doctors, practitioners, and healers, what they went through and how they were treated throughout history by their male counterparts. It’s a timeless book, as powerful to read now as it was when it was first released.

#8. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The story of a family going through the worst thing they can – a child’s illness. But it is so much more. Picoult has woven a complex story that deals with not only a parent’s heartache, but the right to choose death on your own terms. She mixes medicine, the law, and family struggles so seamlessly, you don’t even realize the important themes and undertones in the book until that last page.

#9. Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts. Her first book. ‘Nuff said!

#10. The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I read this book every single day I am writing. Heck, I even refer to it when I’m not writing because it is such a valuable tool for understanding human behavior.

For the purposes of full disclosure here, Joanne, I could have easily given you two dozen more books!

Thanks so much for inviting me today to talk to your readers. I hope I’ve offered them some food for thought to try a writer that maybe that haven’t yet.

Blurb

Talented and witty portrait artist Serena MacQuire is successful in everything but love. Her gift for capturing people on canvas is rivalled only by her fiery and legendary temper. A tragedy from the past keeps her heart securely locked away, preventing any man from getting close enough to claim it.

But Seamus Cleary isn’t just any man. After he left his professional football career to become a veterinarian, his bitter wife ended their marriage. Now, as he starts his life over in a new town, love is the last thing he’s looking for. The more he tends to Serena’s horses, though, the more he realizes her own heart needs tender care and healing as well.

Will he be the man who finally unlocks and claims her heart?

Excerpt

Their eyes met and Seamus registered the silent “O” of surprise on her mouth.

“I’m sorry I startled you,” he said, drawn to her as an errant moth would be to a ghost of moonlight. “Addie told me you were out here.”

Serena reached over to her sketchpad, open at her feet, and closed it with a flick of her toe. He was rewarded with a lengthy view of thigh as she stretched.

“Working?”

“Doodling, mostly. I wanted to do some preliminary sketches for a commission I have.”

“Mind if I sit?” he asked, and without waiting for an answer, did.

When he reached for the pad and said, “May I?” she shot her bare foot on top of it.

“Sorry.” Serena reached over and grabbed the book. When it was safely tucked behind her back, braced against the tree, she added, “I’m a little schizoid where my work is concerned. I don’t let people see it when it’s in the planning or beginning stages.”

He looked across at her, lifted one brow slightly, then glanced around. “This is nice,” he said. “Quiet. Peaceful.”

“Private.”

A fist of pure desire punched him in the stomach, the muscles contracting in response to the challenge in her eyes.

“Was there something you needed to see me about?”

He considered her again, before replying. For someone so young she could act as regally as the most aged dowager.

And she was young; much younger than he was. It wouldn’t do to start anything with her. Besides, she was a client. He had to keep it professional.

But dammit, those eyes speared right through him, impaling him with their beauty, and were hard to ignore. As was the gentle swell and shift of her breasts with each breath beneath her barely modest halter top. And her legs, well, just forget about those. Legs like that were destined to be his downfall.

Buy Links:

Amazon | The Wild Rose Press

Bio

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.

In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.

In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader’s Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and is a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Website/Blog: http://peggyjaeger.com


A Writer’s Fate

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Michelle Jean Marie. Today, Michelle shares her inspiring 20-year journey and new release, Tempting Fate.

Here’s Michelle!

I’ve never had trouble writing. Even in grammar school, my papers and stories were always longer than the teacher assigned. Perhaps I can attribute that to my dad, who used to read to me and my siblings at bedtime. Listening to Arabian Nights and Little Women, I lived in those stories and never wanted them to end. So I began to write my own.

In high school, my friends and I started writing fan fiction before there was such a thing. Does that date me? We had our favorite television shows, and would write our own episodes – usually with ourselves as the beautiful heroine or woman in peril. Then I picked up The Flame and the Flower and my life was never the same. I became hooked on romances – historical romances. It’s a good thing Barbara Cartland was such a prolific writer. I could finish one of her books in a day. And although her books were nothing like Kathleen Woodiwiss’s, they took me to places unknown and taught me history at the same time.

I was a columnist for my high school paper during this time and won awards for my writing. In senior year, I took a creative writing class, much to my mother’s chagrin. After all, that meant I couldn’t take Spanish III Honors. I knew my priorities as a teenager, didn’t I? But I was writing! That was much more fun than studying Spanish.

Unfortunately, creative writing fell by the wayside through college and the early years of my marriage. Again, those priorities! Then when my daughters were young, I attended a romance writer’s workshop at our local library. From there, I learned about Romance Writers of America. I joined the Chicago-North chapter and never looked back. I learned what serious romance writing was – not just silly fan fiction. Who knew I shouldn’t head hop? Or that every chapter ends with a hook? Or that the first few sentences would determine whether or not finicky readers kept reading to the end? I was reading it, but I never knew the craft.

My first completed novel was Destiny Defied, which after many critiques and rewrites, became Tempting Fate. I was thrilled when Tempting Fate finaled in the Golden Heart Contest of RWA in 1997. We made the family trip to Orlando and had a blast.

Although the book made the rounds in the publishing world, it wasn’t until 20 years, several more manuscripts and a writing hiatus later that Tempting Fate found a home at Soul Mate Publishing. To complete the circle, the RWA conference is in Orlando again this year. I won’t be attending with family in tow this time, but the timing must be FATE.

Blurb

A Woman Ruined
Scorned by society for past indiscretions, Lady Alanna Clayton instead dedicates her time to improving the lives of orphans at the workhouse. When Alanna realizes their futures are in danger, she vows to protect them, no matter the means.

A Man Wounded
Lieutenant-Colonel Kellen Harrington, Marquess of Aldwich and future Duke of Wilkesbury, abandoned his responsibility for a career in the cavalry. He fled a life of abuse for a life of war. A dire summons brings him back to London and the estate he swore to never set foot on again.

A Secret Shared
Childhood friends, Alanna and Kellen are bonded by an old secret and fate reunites them to keep another. But in trying to save others’ lives, have they put their own in danger? Deceit, blackmail, and revenge challenge their every step as they navigate the dark alleys of London. And traverse the corners of their hearts.

Can Alanna tempt fate and save Kellen from his biggest danger – himself?

Excerpt

“What in hell?” Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Aldwich mumbled as his body slammed against the tufted leather of the carriage. Pain fired up his leg and through his lower back. He gripped his left thigh, breathing deeply to relieve the pain. “Dash this London traffic!”

He had not missed the insanity these past ten and one half years. Regaining his posture, he snapped the window down. He leaned out, hearing his coachman shouting at the apparent cause of the disruption. It wasn’t traffic.

He peered into the haze, watching two slight figures rise unsteadily. A young woman stood first, answering the coachman’s admonition with a frigid stare. She seemed to be nineteen or twenty, and better outfitted than the scruffy lad with her. Bonnet askew, she quickly put it aright.

When his coachman ceased his tirade, she launched one of her own. “Are ya daft? Could ya no’ see us?” She switched her attention to the boy, brushing tears off his face with the corner of her cape. “Wha’ are ya doin’ goin’ so fast on a night like this ‘un?”

Aldwich winced at her dreadful cockney accent, an apparent, but poor, attempt to hide her upbringing. He squinted, trying to see her better. Not that he would recognize anyone after all these years.

He studied the young woman and her small companion. A more ill-matched pair, he’d rarely seen. Her wool cloak and velvet bonnet bespoke quality, yet the ragamuffin didn’t seem old or refined enough to act as her escort.

“Are you hurt?” Aldwich asked.

The girl’s head spun toward him. She shoved the boy behind her and inched backward. “No, guv’nor.”

Yet even as she said that, the lad cried out. “You’re bleeding!”

The colonel barely heard the words as the brougham pulled abreast of the near-victims. The vision in the street had engrossed him. A pair of clear blue eyes, framed in a heart-shaped face, stared back at him from the gloom. A flicker of a distant memory passed across his mind, and with it, the pain of the past. He forced the recollection down. “You might take more care in crossing the street next time,” he said as he handed her his handkerchief.

“As yah mi’ take care ta slow down,” she retorted as she touched the kerchief to her cheek. Then turning, she hastened her retreat.

The colonel bristled and sat back. The impudent chit disappeared into the shadows of the alley. As she vanished, a lock of silvery-blonde hair escaped her bonnet. Inhaling sharply, he connected that unmistakable hair with two cerulean eyes. And a lifetime ago. Starting, he signaled for the coachman to proceed. “Your imagination is running away with you, Aldwich,” he muttered to himself.

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Bio

After years of working in the Health Information Management field, Michelle became a stay-at-home mom to raise two adorable daughters and took advantage of her time at home to pursue a life-long passion—writing.

While attending a romance writing workshop at a local library, Michelle was hooked. She cracked open the research books, turned on the computer, and started cranking out historical romances. In her early efforts, she was an RWA Golden Heart finalist and winner/finalist in many RWA sponsored contests.

After ending one marriage, seeing her daughters through college, opening her own business, and finally happily marrying her soul mate, she opened those old computer files and did some serious editing. She signed her first publishing contract with Soul Mate Publishing more than twenty years after writing it. Perseverance does pay off!

Michelle lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Steve, and their three insane pups. Their two-legged children have all moved on to their own homes and careers. By day, she runs a professional organizing business, a virtual assistant business, and a research web site. Her favorite clients are authors!

By night, she writes. She self-published Researching the British Historical: The Victorian Era, 101 Organizing Tips for Writers, I’m Moving!! Now What? and Nine Journeys: Stories of Women Who Found Their Own Paths to Success.

For more information about Michelle and her endeavors, find her at:

Web Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


10 Facts About Kudzu

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press author Leanna Sain to the Power of 10 series. Today, Leanna shares ten important kudzu facts and her latest release, Half-Moon Lake.

Here’s Leanna!

Since the main character, Kathryn Dorne (aka Katelyn Eubanks) has some severe phobias linked to her mysterious childhood, one of which is a fear of kudzu, I thought readers might like to know a few kudzu facts. For those of you who are asking, “What the heck is kudzu?” here’s a definition: a quick-growing eastern Asian climbing plant with purple flowers, used as a fodder crop and for erosion control. It has become a pest in the southeastern US.

10 Facts about Kudzu

1. It was first introduced into the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition by the Japanese in 1876.

2. Its lavender blossoms smell like grape Kool-ade.

3. In 1902, a botanist named David Fairchild warned of the plant’s invasiveness. He was ignored.

4. Shortly after that, the US Soil Conservation decided to use the vine for controlling soil erosion and paid southern farmers $8 an acre to plant it on their land.

5. Three years after the government started paying farmers to plant it, Mr. Fairchild published his warning about kudzu’s dangerous invasiveness in a scientific journal. He was still ignored.

6. By 1960, the government finally got the message and switched its focus from propagation to eradication.

7. By 1970, it was declared a weed, and by 1997, a noxious weed, but by then it was too late. Kudzu loves the climate and growing conditions in the South and had turned into an uncontrollable monster.

8. Kudzu roots can weigh up to 450 pounds and reach 7 feet in length. During the height of summer, the vine can grow a foot a day.

9. All parts of the plant can be used, which is a good thing since there’s so much of it. The vine can be used for basket weaving and for livestock feed. The blossoms can be made into jelly. Roots and leaves can be used in cooking.

10. In the medical field, they’re using kudzu to treat migraines and cluster headaches. Scientists are testing it for use in cancer treatments, alcoholism, allergies, tinnitus, vertigo, and high blood pressure.

Blurb

When Kathryn Dorne is summoned to Half-Moon Lake for the reading of her father’s will, she discovers a shocking truth.

Learning her name is Katelyn Eubanks is only the first surprise. Second, she had an identical twin sister who drowned at the age of nine. Since Katelyn can’t remember anything prior to that age, it seems more than mere coincidence. The biggest surprise is that her father, a man she never knew, left his entire estate to her, enraging other would-be heirs.

With her unremembered, but closest childhood friend, Levi, as well as help from the estate’s deaf-mute gardener and the outspoken cook, Katelyn searches for answers to questions that have plagued her all her life, but doing so, opens the proverbial Pandora’s box.

As her memories return, so does the danger she escaped fifteen years earlier.

Buy links

The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Bio

North Carolina native, Leanna Sain, earned her BA from the University of South Carolina, then moved back to her beloved mountains of western NC with her husband. Her “Gate” books have stacked up numerous awards, from Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year to the Clark Cox Historical Fiction Award from the North Carolina Society of Historians. Sain’s fourth novel, WISH, is a stand-alone, YA crossover.

Her Southern romantic suspense or “GRIT-lit,” showcases her plot-driven method of writing that successfully rolls the styles of best-selling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon into a delightfully hybrid style that is all her own. Regional fiction lovers and readers who enjoy suspense with a magical twist will want her books.

She loves leading discussion groups and book clubs.

Where to find Leanna…

Website/Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


10 Interesting Facts About Chef David Korba

David Korba could cook, and he could charm. One meal—that’s all it took to win Gilda Greco’s approval and a six-figure investment in Xenia, an innovative Greek restaurant near Sudbury, Ontario. But there’s much more to the charismatic chef.

Here’s his back story:

1. David Korba, the youngest of five children, was born in Nea Makri, a seaside resort town about 25 kilometers away from Athens. His mother, a struggling artist, and paternal grandmother doted upon him. Some would say they spoiled him and filled his head with grandiose dreams.

Continue reading on Jane Reads Blog.