Meet the Author

Author Spotlight: H.W. Buzz Bernard

Author Spotlight: H.W. Buzz Bernard
Cascadia

IT PROBABLY HELPS TO BE A FEW FRIES SHORT OF A HAPPY MEAL

A few days ago, I came across some notes I made while plodding though the literary landscape in search of an agent who would represent my debut novel, EYEWALL.  The notes were compiled in 2009 – a couple of years prior to EYEWALL’s publication.  I had no recollection of making them, but there they were.

What they were was this: a compilation of comments agents had made about the manuscript, both pro and con.  I assume I kept them to remind me to focus on the positive remarks as opposed to the negative ones, since I tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of guy instead of a glass-half-full one.  In other words, I needed an antidote, the “pro” comments, to ward off the poisonous effects of negative reviews.

If you’re a published writer or are looking for an agent, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you aren’t, then what follows will provide a little insight into what authors face as they trek along the winding, unpaved road to publication.  In my case, the road turned out to be ten years long and strewn with four different manuscripts.

If nothing else, a review of the comments I received serves as a vivid reminder of how TOTALLY SUBJECTIVE the endeavor of assessing manuscripts is.  And I know this from both sides of the aisle now, since I occasionally judge writing competitions.

So here we go.

According to my notes, I lacked genuine talent as a writer.  One agent said she was “not that impressed by the writing.”  Another dissed my execution as “a bit dense and overwritten.”

Time for a big swallow of my antidote.  “You have a gift of description which is lushly depicted,” declared one agent.  Another pointed out: “Your language in descriptive passages really impressed me.”  Okay, perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope for me.

I apparently had trouble kick starting the story, however.  One agent pointed out the first two chapters were “not compelling enough.”  But another told me, “Very nice writing, especially the first chapter.”  Hmmm, maybe I sent out two different manuscripts.

Then there was the issue of driving the drama forward.  “More slow-moving than I’d hoped,” one reviewer complained.  Another griped, “The details get in the way of what should be more fast-paced and gripping.”

Happily, there was an opposite assessment: “Starts off fast paced right from the beginning.”

The body blows were relentless, however.  Agents were “not sufficiently engaged; not sufficiently enthusiastic;” or found the tale “a bit predictable.”

Thankfully, there were always the counterpunches to keep me going: “Great and timely concept, one with clear marketability,” and “you write well and deserve an agent with the time to properly represent you.”

It took me another year before I found such an agent.

In the end, I’d have to say the pro comments were more on target than the cons.  EYEWALL went on to become a number-one best seller on Amazon’s Kindle Store.

That’s just the kind of goofy business this is.  It’s a game with only self-defined rules, amorphous boundaries, and no referees.  One that’s both fun and terribly frustrating.  To play it, you have to be tenacious, thick-skinned, and probably a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

 

Pick up EYEWALL by H.W. Buzz Bernard today for just $1.99!

St. Simons Island, Georgia, has never been hit by a Category 5 hurricane. Until now.

No one predicted the storm’s sudden force. A crippled Air Force recon plane, trapped in the eye of a violent hurricane. An outspoken tropical weather forecaster, fired from his network TV job before he can issue a warning: the storm is changing course and intensifying. A desperate family searching for a runaway daughter on Georgia’s posh St. Simons Island, cut off from escape as the hurricane roars toward them. A marriage on the rocks; an unrequited sexual attraction; a May-December romance. All will be swept up by the monster storm.

Get ready for a white-knuckle adventure.

 

 

And don’t forget to grab H.W. Buzz Bernard’s other great Bell Bridge Titles as well!

  

 

About the Author:

H. W. “Buzz” Bernard is a best-selling, award-winning novelist.

His debut novel, EYEWALL, which one reviewer called a “perfect summer beach read,” was released in May 2011 and went on to become a number-one best seller in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

PLAGUE (“One of the best thrillers of 2012″–novelist Al Leverone) came out in September 2012, and won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award in the suspense/thriller category.

SUPERCELL (“Races along with the speed of a twister”–novelist Michael Wallace) was published in late 2013 and became a best seller on Kindle as well as the winner of the 2015 EPIC eBook Award in the suspense thriller/category.

Buzz’s fourth novel and third in his “weather trilogy,” BLIZZARD (“A terrific book”–novelist Deborah Smith) was released in February 2015. It led to his nomination for a 2016 Georgia Author of the Year award.

CASCADIA (“heart pounding”–Reed Farrel Coleman, NYT best-selling author WHERE IT HURTS) hit the market in July 2016.

Before becoming a novelist, Buzz worked at The Weather Channel as a senior meteorologist for 13 years. Prior to that, he served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for over three decades.  He attained the rank of colonel and received, among other awards, the Legion of Merit. His “airborne” experiences include a mission with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and a stint as a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135). In the past, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope, and served two tours in Vietnam. Various other jobs, both civilian and military, have taken him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama. He’s a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing. Buzz currently is vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association. He’s a member of International Thriller Writers, the Atlanta Writers Club and Willamette Writers. He and his wife, Christina, live in Roswell, Georgia, along with their fuzzy and sometimes over-active Shih-Tzu, Stormy.

Buzz’s Website can be found at www.buzzbernard.com.

Author Spotlight: Wally Avett

Author Spotlight: Wally Avett
Wally_Avett.jpg

From WALLY AVETT, Martins Creek, Murphy, NC   Jan. 3, 2017

I wrote LAST BIGFOOT IN DIXIE for my friends and readers here in our little mountain town, sometimes compared to Mayberry. I still write a column for our weekly newspaper where I was editor during the 1970’s. So, I know them and they all know me.

And to a certain degree, their stories fuel my stories. Like all my books, LAST BIGFOOT IN DIXIE is inspired by true incidents that actually happened; some I witnessed, some I participated in, and some I was told about.

There’s a gentle love story, backwoods humor, and some mystery. Real, indigenous characters are easily recognizable to my local readers.

Yes, it’s fiction, but a little girl from Ohio was really killed and partially eaten by a black bear in a nearby U. S. Forest Service campground. And, there was a small-town doctor who sold hillbilly babies to rich couples from Atlanta and Chattanooga, and kept no records. There was even once a Yankee gold payroll stolen away by the bushwhackers, but only in LAST BIGFOOT IN DIXIE did it end up buried under Wal-Mart!

My “brain trust” consisted of four faithful buddies who did first readings of all my manuscripts. Some got testy about the title I had chosen. “Who is the real Bigfoot?” they nagged. “Was it the giant Cherokee or the killer bear?”

I politely answered that it could be either one. They got upset and said, “You wrote the damn book and you don’t even know?”

It is what it is. You, gentle critics, make the call.

Happy reading – hope you enjoy LAST BIGFOOT IN DIXIE.

Pick up LAST BIGFOOT IN DIXIE for just $0.99! Don’t wait! This deal ends 1/31/17!

Killer bear, Appalachian psycho, Yankee gold . . .

He’s on the trail of something big . . .

Deep in the Great Smokies, a huge black bear kills a child at a campground, and a hunt begins in a quiet mountain community where such threats are rare. Wade, an outdoorsman and backwoods columnist, is quickly deputized to find and slay the massive beast terrorizing tourists and locals alike.

While on the trail, he is wounded by a pot-grower’s booby trap and stalked by Junior, an authentic Appalachian psychopath. Two fellow deputies are gunned down, and rumors of buried Civil War gold surface. Wade gets unexpected assistance from a wannabe writer whose gifts prove helpful even after mushroom trances and spiritual quests—enhanced by a Minnesota Vikings horn-helmet.

The discovery of a mysterious doll ties into grisly murders from the past, and Wade meets a tough, old Marine with a puzzling treasure map. All the while, the looming threat of Junior’s lethal lunacy stalks Wade and his colorful allies.

 

 

 

 

 

And don’t forget to pick up Wally Avett’s other Bell Bridge title: MURDER IN CANEY FORK:

It’s the trial of the century in a 1940’s North Carolina town.
Murder and vigilante justice.
War hero and law student Wes Ross has to save his uncle–but hide the truth.

Taught to shoot in the rough logging camps of the North Carolina swamps, Wes Ross remembers his lessons well. Dodging hostile gunfire with dozens of other young Marines, he storms a remote Pacific island as one of Carlson’s Raiders in the first commando-style attack of World War II. He blasts several Japanese snipers from their palm-tree hideouts with buckshot before an enemy bullet sends him home.
The Carolina homefront includes a new girlfriend and a new occupation, learning to be a rural lawyer in his uncle’s law office, including courtroom intrigue and what goes on behind the scenes. Wes, like his uncles, is a good man, the kind who takes up for the poor and downtrodden, looking out for those who are easy prey for bullies.
Frog Cutshaw is the storekeeper in the Caney Fork backwoods, a swaggering ex-moonshiner who is deadly with his ever-present .45 auto pistol. Frog’s daylight rape of a married woman and the brutal killing of her husband bring on Bible Belt vigilante justice, an eye for an eye, a life for a life.

 

 

About the Author:

Wally Avett is a retired journalist living in the Great Smoky Mountains of extreme southwestern North Carolina.
“My father was a country preacher,” he says. “So I grew up with good storytellers all around me, friends and family.
“For me, good writing has to be based on truth. I write like my Granny used to make quilts, producing fiction which is actually fashioned from bits and pieces of raw truth, modified and shaped as needed.”
He is an avid reader and gardener, a Sunday School teacher and bluegrass gospel singer, hunter, fisherman and reluctant handyman. He likes history, sometimes sells mountain cabins to retirees fleeing the heat of Florida and often tells funny stories.

Author Spotlight: Katherine Scott Crawford

Author Spotlight: Katherine Scott Crawford
New Author Photo 2017

Walking the Story

By the time my debut historical novel, Keowee Valley, was published, I’d walked, hiked, trail run, swum, paddled, and climbed countless miles of rocks, roads, flatland and mountain trails, lakes and rivers in the foothills and mountains of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Some of this, I’d done as a child, because my family were outdoorsy types. Most, however, I’d done on my own: both as a camp counselor and backpacking guide in my teens and 20s, and on adventures with like-minded friends well into my 30s, the age I am now. Always, and until her death in 2015, I was joined by my faithful trail partner: my dog, Scout.

I go (and went) to the woods—and the forest, the lake, the mountaintop, the river—to “live deliberately,” much the same as Thoreau did in the mid-1800s (minus the wood-chopping). The “woods” bring me back to myself; there is no place I feel more authentic.

The heart of my historical novel, Keowee Valley, takes place in the woods—in the forests of the Southern Appalachians. In fact, nearly every scene in the wilderness sections of the novel occur in real spots: scenery in which I’ve hiked, rivers I’ve paddled (and fallen into), trails I’ve traversed, in all kinds of weather. It is a land I know intimately. I know it as well as the pages of my own heart.

Every time I write a story, place—or setting, as some like to call it—plays a vital role, as important as any character. Maybe it’s the Southern writer in me? Southern writers are such, of course, because of their place. Mostly, I think, it’s because I can’t separate from the land, and neither can my characters. After all, in Keowee Valley, Quinn falls head over heels in love with the dangerous, gorgeous, and wild Cherokee backcountry long before she ever lays eyes on the equally dangerous (and gorgeous, and wild) Jack Wolf.

 

Bio:

Katherine Scott Crawford is a novelist, newspaper columnist, college English teacher, hiker and mom who lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Her parenting and outdoor life column appears weekly in The Greenville News (South Carolina), and is often picked up by other newspapers across the country. She holds far too many degrees in English and writing, chases her children frequently through the Pisgah National Forest, and is currently at work (when she’s actually sitting down) on her next historical novel.

 

Pick up Keowee Valley by Katherine Scott Crawford today for just $1.99!

“A glorious debut from a gifted author.” – Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and The Shoemaker’s Wife

“Keowee Valley is a terrific first novel by Katherine Scott Crawford–a name that should be remembered. She has a lovely prose style, a great sense of both humor and history, and she tells about a time in South Carolina that I never even imagined.” –Pat Conroy, bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad.

On the edge of the wilderness, her adventure began.

She journeyed into the wilderness to find a kidnapped relative. She stayed to build a new life filled with adventure, danger, and passion.
Spring, 1768. The Southern frontier is a treacherous wilderness inhabited by the powerful Cherokee people. In Charlestown, South Carolina, twenty-five-year-old Quincy MacFadden receives news from beyond the grave: her cousin, a man she’d believed long dead, is alive–held captive by the Shawnee Indians. Unmarried, bookish, and plagued by visions of the future, Quinn is a woman out of place . . . and this is the opportunity for which she’s been longing.
Determined to save two lives, her cousin’s and her own, Quinn travels the rugged Cherokee Path into the South Carolina Blue Ridge. But in order to rescue her cousin, Quinn must trust an enigmatic half-Cherokee tracker whose loyalties may lie elsewhere. As translator to the British army, Jack Wolf walks a perilous line between a King he hates and a homeland he loves.
When Jack is ordered to negotiate for Indian loyalty in the Revolution to come, the pair must decide: obey the Crown, or commit treason . . .

Author Spotlight: Diana Pharaoh Francis

Author Spotlight: Diana Pharaoh Francis
Author Pic
The Black Ship
The Cipher
Whisper of Shadows
Edge of Dreams

Making the New Year’s Resolution

Last year was an awful year on a lot of fronts. We lost so many talented people–actors, musicians, writers, artists. It feels like the Grim Reaper took an extra big haul–like he was taking notes from George. R. R. Martin. So many of those who died had a great deal of impact on me through their work. Losing them is like losing bits of myself, of my past, of the world itself. Many important moments of my life have been punctuated by their art.

It made me wonder what they were thinking as they created their works. Did they have any idea how much impact they could have? Or would have? I can’t imagine that they did. They each had something they wanted to say, some emotion or idea they wanted to capture. I know that when I write, I want to make the rest of the world go away. I want to entertain. I want good to triumph against evil, even though it doesn’t always. I always want there to be heroes, even when it seems there are none to be found. I look around in this world and I see those heroes everyday in the news. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things, is what some people like to call them. But they aren’t ordinary, are they? None of us are. We are all extraordinary in our own way. We all have the ability to be somebody else’s hero.

So that’s my New Year’s Resolution: to be somebody’s hero as often as I can, in all the ways I can.

Be entertained by Diana Pharaoh Francis! Pick up Trace of Magic! Only $0.99 until til the 14th!

4 ½ Stars TOP PICK –RT Magazine

“Best book of the year!” –Faith Hunter, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Jane Yellowrock series

Even the most powerful tracers can’t track you if the magical trace you leave behind is too old. But I can track almost anything, even dead trace. That makes me a unicorn, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Loch Ness Monster all rolled into one. In a word, I am unique. A very special snowflake. And if anyone ever finds out, I’ll be dead or a slave to one of the Tyet criminal factions.

Riley Hollis has quietly traced kidnapped children and quietly tipped the cops to their whereabouts one too many times. Now she’s on the radar of Detective Clay Price, a cop in the pocket of a powerful magic Tyet faction. When he blackmails her into doing a dangerous trace for him, Riley will have to break every rule that keeps her safe. Or become a Tyet pawn in a deadly, magical war.

“Diana Pharaoh Francis has crafted a winning paranormal mystery that mixes sizzling sex, magic, and a decades old search for artifacts that could change their world.” –Jeanne Stein, Bestselling Author of The Anna Strong Chronicles

“Trace of Magic caught me up fast and pulled me in tight for a fun, action-and-sass adventure full of deadly magic and dangerous romance. Diana Pharaoh Francis delivers a downright terrific read.” –Devon Monk, nationally Bestselling Author of Hell Bent

 

And make sure you pick up the rest of Diana Pharaoh Francis’s wonderful selection!

Diamond City Magic Novels:

The Crosspointe Novels:

PURVEYOR OF GRINCHINESS THAT I AM . . .

PURVEYOR OF GRINCHINESS THAT I AM . . .

by H.W. Buzz Bernard

Okay, I admit it.  Even though I’m old and cranky, I still harbor a bit of nostalgia when it comes to the December holidays.  I love the trappings of a traditional Christmas: melodious carols, twinkling lights, a nip in the air.

 

(But egg nog?  Forget it.  Gimme a shot of Jack on the rocks instead.)

 

Anyhow, there’s a heartfelt, evocative Christmas scene in Blizzard, one I truly enjoyed writing. It flowed from memories of Christmases past in another time and another place, when I dwelled not in the South, but in a location closer to the North Pole, New England.  (Which is as near Santa’s digs as I ever want to get.)

 

Now I live in Atlanta—and have for many years—where frigid December holidays are as scarce as Democrats.  So to write my scene, I journeyed into times gone by.  I felt the warmth of blazes crackling in stone fireplaces, sniffed the aromas of gingerbread and fresh-cut fir wafting through happy homes, and peered out windows to watch Siberian winds whipping over icy ponds.

 

But why, you ask, would a thriller writer be, well, thrilled to paint a Currier & Ives scene with words?  I had a purpose, of course.

 

I placed my protagonist, a decent man and loving father and husband, in an “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” moment of holiday warmth and tranquility before thrusting him—purveyor of Grinchiness that I can be (ain’t being a novelist fun?)—into a frozen nightmare of violence and death.

 

Think he can survive?  You can find out for only $1.99. Just click the cover!

Beginnings

Beginnings
don-donaldson

don-donaldsonBEGINNINGS

 

I love to watch movies about how famous people got their start, especially singers.  The other night I saw a TV rerun of WALK THE LINE, the biopic about Johnny Cash. There’s something fascinating about how he barged into Sam Philips’ recording studio in Memphis and talked the man into giving him an audition.  Cash and his two buddies do a gospel song for Philips and he’s obviously not very interested. When they finish, Philips says, “I can’t sell gospel music. Got anything else?” That’s the big turning point.  Philips didn’t say Cash couldn’t sing.  He wanted to hear something different. Now, I’m on the edge of my seat.  What did Johnny Cash do next? He sang a little song he wrote himself, FOLSOM PRISON BLUES.  And that sealed the deal.  By the way, Joaquin Phoenix played Johnny Cash and really sang the songs himself.  Amazing.

My interest in big breaks that launch careers isn’t limited to singers. It also extends to writers (big surprise).  The story about how Stephen King sold his first book sounds as though it was scripted for dramatic effect.  As many of you may know, his first novel was Carrie, a tale of a bullied young girl with telekinetic powers who takes revenge on her tormenters.  Initially, he wrote three pages of what was intended to be a short story, then believing it was no good, tossed the pages away. His wife later took them out of the trash, read them, and encouraged him to develop the story into a novel.  After thirty publishers rejected the book, Doubleday picked it up for a modest advance. The hardcover sold only 13,000 copies, but the paperback rights went for $400,000, half to King, half to Doubleday.  The sale of this book rescued King and his wife from a barely solvent existence.  For more details on all this, see http://mentalfloss.com/article/53235/how-stephen-kings-wife-saved-carrie-and-launched-his-career

I also like to hear stories about how people met their spouses. Here’s mine. I first saw my future wife when my family traveled from our home in Toledo, Ohio, to Jacksonville, Florida, for my uncle’s wedding.  At the home of the bride to be, I was introduced to her incredibly gorgeous younger sister, Lois.  This dazzling girl was dressed in a sparkling white blouse and white shorts.  On the floor was a toddler eating some kind of soft candy that he had smeared all over his fingers and face.  Suddenly noticing that his mother had left the room, the toddler began to cry.  Thinking only about the welfare of the little boy, Lois picked the child up in her arms to comfort him. This of course soon led to the toddler smearing candy all over Lois’s white blouse. And Lois didn’t mind at all! I knew then that this girl was also beautiful on the inside.

For several years we communicated with each other by letter and phone calls (this was long before the invention of texting and Skype).  Then, for a variety of reasons, (rigors of college mostly) I stopped writing. One day I received a card from Lois.  On the front it said, I’D LIKE TO GET ON YOUR GOOD SIDE.  Inside, it read, IF YOU HAVE ONE.

Over fifty years later, I still admire her for choosing that card.  She humbled herself by letting me know she was still interested, but also, at the same time, managed to stick it to me.

In thinking about how people meet, I’m reminded of Carl and Beth, the two lead characters in my medical thriller, THE BLOOD BETRAYAL. (Yes, we’ve now come to the commercial portion of our program) Anyway, I’m willing to bet that no two people ever met in a more unusual manner than those two.

I can imagine Carl relating the story to one of his grandkids.

“Tell me how you and Grandma met,” the boy says to Carl.  Carl smiles, thinks back, and shakes his head.  “Well, I was driving away from this little town where I’d just upset the local doctor so bad that I was sure he wanted to kill me. Then the craziest thing happened.”

“What?” the boy asks.

Carl reaches for a book and hands it to his grandson.  “It’s all in here, my boy.  And better understood if you read about it yourself.”

I’d tell you more, but I agree with Carl that you should read the book for yourself and not depend on someone like me to interpret it for you. (Although if you were going to rely on a guide through it, I’d probably be a good choice.)

 

-Don Donaldson

 

THE BLOOD BETRAYAL is on sale for just $1.99! Grab it today!

the-blood-betrayal-200x300x72

Meet My Hero

Meet My Hero
Donnell Bell

Donnell BellMeet My Hero

by Donnell Ann Bell

 

Since I write romantic suspense, one of the requirements is that I include a hero. He’s tall and buff and smart and the type that readers will either swoon or fan themselves. But today I’d like to tell you about a real life hero who does neither of that when you look at her.  You see, she’s well into her 80s, and I see her at times when I’m driving home or on my way to the store. She loves to walk, and while she’s out walking, she carries a bag and picks up the trash she passes along the way.

She’s not saving lives or putting out fires, but she is making our neighborhood better. What’s more she’s been a great influence on me.  What a great idea, I thought, so while I’m out walking Charley, and just happen to have a bag, I pick up trash.

Maybe I’ll run into this lady one day on one of my walks and thankBuried Agendas her for being an unsung hero and a positive influence.

In Buried Agendas, a book that is on $1.99 special through August 31 on all digital forums from Bell Bridge Books, my heroine is concerned about the environment as well and goes undercover. So, in effect, she’s a lot like my elderly neighbor.  I hope you’ll check it out!  http://donnellannbell.com/books/buried-agendas/

Summertime, and the reading is easy!

Summertime, and the reading is easy!
Keiler Photo 4
Keiler Photo 1
Keiler Photo 2
Keiler Photo 3

Keiler Photo 1Summertime, and the reading is easy!

I vacation every summer in a beautiful beach town on the New Jersey shore, not too far from where my husband grew up. I start each day with a leisurely jog up and down the town’s boardwalk bordering the beach, which offers the best views of the sun rising up out of the Atlantic Ocean. The beach is always empty then—except for an occasional gathering of sea gulls—and the breezes lift off the water and keep me and the few other early joggers from getting too hot. It is the most peaceful time of day. While my sneakered feet stay on the boardwalk, my mind wanders in all directions. I get some of my best writing ideas during these tranquil morning jogs.

After I return to the inn where my husband and I stay, I wash up, Keiler Photo 2change into a swimsuit and coverup, and grab some breakfast, after which we head back down to the beach, armed with chairs, an umbrella, and books, books, books! My husband loves biographies, narrative history, and thrillers, many of which he buys in hardcover (which makes our beach tote bag weigh a ton.) I prefer women’s fiction, romances, and mysteries—the same genres I write—and I read them on my Kindle. Of course, this means I can bring hundreds of books down to the beach with me, all stored on my lightweight reading device.

 

Much as I love my morning jogs (and my evening ice-cream Keiler Photo 3pig-outs; our inn is a short walk from a fabulous ice-cream parlor), my favorite part of vacation is sitting on the beach and reading. I slide my chair into the umbrella’s shade, dig my toes into the sand, and gorge on books. My definition of bliss!

 

If you’re like me, and looking for some delicious new books to read while you’re on vacation, I hope you’ll give The April Tree a try, especially while it’s specially priced at only $1.99. Much as I love all the books I’ve written (one hundred so far!), The April Tree is the book closest to my heart. It contains drama, romance, sorrow, and laughter. It’s about life and loss, fate and faith. And it’s about the enduring bonds of friendship.

 

Some of you may be beach readers like me. Some may be hammock Keiler Photo 4readers. Some of you may be hopping on planes and traveling long distances this summer—but hey, you’ll need a good book or two to keep you company on the flight. So stock up on your summertime reading—and take advantage of any discounts you can find. I hope you’ll include The April Tree on your summer reading list.

 

Judith Arnold

 

 

THE APRIL TREE is on sale for just 1.99! Grab it today!

Power of Perseverance

Power of Perseverance
A Beastly Scandal
shereen-06 400 x 466 BW 2016

Power of Perseverance

By Shereen Vedam

 

“Death is Peaceful, Life is Harder”

Stephenie Meyer, Twilight

 

Right after I read the above quote, a friend mentioned a line from anshereen-06 400 x 466 BW 2016 old TV show called St. Elsewhere: “Death ends a life, it doesn’t end a relationship.”

 

Both quotes are so very true. When someone dies, the love of those left behind does not die with their loved one, it lingers on. As for the one who died, he or she can be drawn to the vibrancy of life they were left behind, especially if the one who they once cared for, is still grieving their passing.

 

Deep love perseveres.

 

A Beastly Scandal - 600x900x300Breaking the lure of life isn’t easy. In my Regency romance, A Beastly Scandal, the heroine discovers this when a widow asks her to cleanse her home, Clearview Manor, of a persistent ghost. The first thing the ghost does when Belle arrives is try to kill her. She perseveres. Because the last time she tried to help this man, it was when he was still alive, and she failed. This time, she will not abandon him. Not if he refuses to accept her help, not even if his son throws her out of his home.

 

Perseverance has the power to overcome obstacles, shrug off discouragement and surmount fear. When life seems hard – and believe me, it will get hard because that is the nature of life – remember to believe in yourself, and to not give up. If you can do that, you will get through this day, the next, and the one after that. In the end, you will triumph, because the power of perseverance is magical. Like love. Dead or alive.

 

EXCERPT from A Beastly Scandal:

 “That is a desolate looking house, is it not?” Winfield said. “I would have it torn down and rebuilt in a more flattering style, but Terrance seems fond of this monstrosity. So what brings you so far north, my lady?”

She faced the gentleman. “I have come for a visit with Lady Terrance. She is my grandfather’s friend.”

“I had heard the countess still wore dark colors.”

Before she could respond, a loud crack sounded. She sensed danger stab from above. With a shouted warning, she pulled Mr. Winfield out of harm’s way just as an icicle crashed and shattered where they had stood. She protected her face as splinters flew in all directions.

Mendal screamed. The owl fluttered its one good wing and screeched. The dog barked ferociously.

Mr. MacBride spoke first, his voice quivering and eyes wide with terror. “It is an omen, ah tell ye.”

“He is right,” Mendal said, sounding unusually timorous as she crossed herself. “We should leave. Bad luck comes from going where we are not wanted.”

The front doors opened then, and a footman descended. Immediately, the dog raced up the stairs and inside.

“Dog!” Belle called out in alarm. The animal might wreck the place. This was not how she had hoped to introduce herself to the countess.

An older woman, dressed in black, moved to the open doorway. Belle recognized her from a drawing her grandfather had shown her. This was Lady Terrance. She gave off waves of fear as she looked toward the roofline.

Belle’s worries drowned beneath the lady’s emotional assault, leaving her head pounding with a headache. Through that onslaught, Belle’s purpose became crystal clear. This is why she had come here. Lady Terrance needed her.

 

A BEASTLY SCANDAL is only $1.99 through the 15th! Grab it today!

Look Away, Away

Look Away, Away
Kimberly Brock 2016
The River Witch

Kimberly Brock 2016Look Away, Away

by Kimberly Brock

 

I think writers of any ilk can benefit from a healthy appreciation of setting, but regional – particularly southern writers – are haunted by our connection to, love of, loss of, and clawing crawling, desperate journey back to – the land. Oh, I wish I was in Dixie…away, away. Every song is a lullaby of going home. We close our eyes and dream of the old house in the valley. We contemplate a city skyline, thinking only of the ancient ridges that surrounded freshly turned lowlands where we walked a row as a child. That old scene where Scarlet O’Hara’s father warns her that land is the only thing that matters? We took that old man seriously and so, when we write our stories, do our characters. Their whole world, how our characters view their circumstances, why they struggle, why they rejoice – it’s all reflected in the setting. Pick up any piece of southern fiction and you will understand what Lee Smith meant when she said of regional literature, “There is an intimate identification with landscape. Setting is so important that it often defines the lives and possibilities of its characters…Place is the central defining factor of southern writing. There’s just simply more there, there.”

 

In writing THE RIVER WITCH, I knew Roslyn’s story would end upThe River Witch - 200x300x72 on the island – I knew she would go into a kind of exile. I imagined Roslyn’s need for isolation, and her need for great beauty, which led me to the Georgia Coast. I wanted it to be a place that would keep her off balance so she’d have to struggle to understand it and meet its demands. I needed a place that Roslyn believed was a complete departure. My character’s story is also the story of this environment and if you look at one, you will inevitably discover something about the other.

 

I’d written a good part of the first draft before Roslyn’s past and her childhood memories of Glenmary, Tennessee, began to surface. There, I found a people rooted for centuries in hard ground. Ancient mountains that would not be moved. Do you see these places? Then you see the people who inhabit them. I came to understand these were the characteristics at the core of Roslyn, this place defined all the ways she was at odds with herself, and as with everything else in the novel, these seemingly contradictory environments and cultures of Appalachia and Coastal Georgia would serve as mirrors for one another – just as the characters tend to hold up mirrors to one another. Some of this was written intentionally, but a great deal of it evolved with the story.

 

I’d always been fascinated by the idea that the Sea Islands shift and change, the idea of the alligators roaring season, the romance of the great live oaks, and then there was the element of superstition that lent itself to Roslyn’s haunting. The island was like going back to the mire from which we all emerge. I chose the island setting so she could fight her way back from her loss, physically and psychologically. That’s what Roslyn’s character ultimately faced – what each of us, ANY character ANY place, faces – a transformation that leads to resolution. She had to learn to shift and change to survive, just like the land beneath her feet. Her connection to place informs the reader of Roslyn’s internal journey through metaphor, but it also grounds the reader firmly in a compelling reality, one that every reader will envision for themselves. We are called to whatever away, away means home. To me, the true power of setting is that it gets to the heart of our human search for belonging.

 

Barbara Kingsolver said it best when she spoke of setting. “I have places from which I tell my stories. So do you, I expect. We sign the song of our home because we are animals…Among the greatest of all gifts is to know our place.”

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