Sunday, February 26, 2012

Behind the Book Mania ~ Author Spotlight on Velda Brotherton

Posted by Mackenzie Crowne at 4:09 PM
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Hiya folks,

Thanks so much for stopping by. The lovely Velda Brotherton is caught up in the mania today, and sharing a bit about herself and two of her titles: Stone Heart's Woman and Wolf Song. What's more, she hasn't come empty handed. One lucky visitor will soon be adding a copy of Stone Heart's Woman to their collection. All you need do to be in the running is leave a comment. Be sure to include your email address so we can contact the winner. Now help me welcome our guest.

Hiya, Velda. Welcome to my mania.

Thanks for inviting me, Mac. Any mania is good enough for me.

A woman after my own heart! Okay, here we go. What was the germ of the idea behind your latest book, Stone Heart's Woman?

My husband does most of my research, and he spoke about a young boy by the name of Yellow Swallow, being the son of George Armstrong Custer and a Northern Cheyenne woman. That began my planning for this book about another son of this controversial man, raised white but torn between his two worlds. Put that together with the Cheyenne's final struggle to leave the Indian Nation and return to their home in the land of the yellow stone, and I had the beginnings of my western historical romance between Stone Heart and a red-haired Irish lass abandoned on the high plains of Nebraska. Both determined to help the Cheyenne in their quest.

A complicated relationship for that day and age. And your husband helps out with your research? Wow, a family affair. That's so cool. I wish I could get my husband to do a bit of research for my writing, but he's only interested in helping with certain scenes. Oh, did I say that out loud? *clears throat* So, what is the first book you remember loving? 

My mother taught me to read when I was barely five, and convinced the powers that were at that time to let me begin first grade because I could read. At the time there was no kindergarten.With the dire warning that I would fail by the eighth grade they let me begin school, mostly to be rid of my mother's daily visits, I'm sure. But to answer your question, I remember those novels that were little hard cover adventures whose names I can't recall. Stories by Burroughs about faraway lands. I ate them up from the age of seven or eight. The first book I truly learned to love and have never forgotten was The Robe. I guess I was in Junior High School by then.

Go Mom! Only a strong woman can go up against the school system, and win. The Robe, huh? Heavy duty! Where is the oddest place you’ve ever pulled out a book? 

In a tent somewhere in the Rocky Mountains and I read it with a flashlight after everyone else was asleep.



LOL. Been there, done that. We are in the presence of another manic reader, folks. Most authors begin writing because they love to read. Is this true with you and if so, did you write your first book because you were inspired, or because you thought, hell, I can do better than this?

Because I was inspired by unanswered questions. Once I began writing my story by hand in a notebook, I was hooked. The questions needed answers and after a few months of research, I went to work in earnest to write my first novel. It eventually garnered me an agent who came close to selling it several times, and even had it before some people at Paramount Pictures, but that fell through when Paramount sold out. I haven't stopped writing since, and that was almost 30 years ago. But I finally found a sort of success the hard way. Very few of us are discovered because of our first effort, and it's rarely that easy.
     
Amen to that, sister. Since first becoming published, what was the biggest ‘Woot’ moment you experienced? 

I was published for several years in newspapers and magazines, but the day that New York call came from an editor at Topaz/Penguin, I was almost too calm. Later I realized what had really happened and began calling everyone shouting and "wooting".  The editor who called me kept saying, "Do you know who this is?" because I was just discussing everything so unemotionally. I think I was in deep shock.

I can't imagine why...NOT! I would have peed my pants. Shy, extroverted, or somewhere in between?

Writing has done wonders for my personality. I was once so shy that I couldn't speak in front of a small roomful of people. I had to give up playing the piano because I fell apart when I had to perform a recital. Yet, after a few years of being published, I can stand in front of a crowd of hundreds and speak without a quaver. I have no idea why this is, it just happened without any effort on my part to learn speaking techniques. So, once shy, now extroverted, I suppose you could say.
           
That is so good to know. I don't have a shy bone in my body, but the idea of speaking to a crowd about my writing gives me the willies. What did you find most surprising when you were first published? 

How well I took to it as "what I do" surprised me. That is, for example, the other day I was talking to someone on the phone and he said, "Are you the writer?" The question struck me mute for a second or two. If he'd asked if I was "a" writer, I would have answered promptly. But "the" writer, like it was something special. That people actually treat me like a celebrity when I speak at conferences or attend a book signing is the most surprising thing imaginable. I write books like some people sell cars or work in a dentist's office or paint pictures. We do it cause it's what we do.
           
So right you are. Best writing advice you were given?

Never give up. Or further, if you can give up, then you aren't really a writer. My best writing buddy over some 28 years once said, and I've always believed this, "The road to success is littered with quitters." We don't fail because we can't do something but because we stop trying.

In my opinion that is the best advice a new writer can get. You won't improve if you don't continue, and you can't win if you don't play. If you wouldn't mind, tell us a little about Velda the writer, and Stone Heart's Woman and Wolf Song.

Here's a short bio:
Velda Brotherton writes of romance in the old west with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements.  She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books.

Stone Heart's Woman - Stone Heart , son of George Armstrong Custer, is nearly killed when he chooses to fight for his mother's people, the Northern Cheyenne in their struggle to return to their home. Aiden Conner joins him in his battle after saving his life when the two are trapped in a soddie during a blizzard.

Wolf Song - Young Cheyenne shapshifter Wolf Shadow's first appearance at the Museum of the Mountain Man startles Olivia Dahl, but she soon grows accustomed to his presence in this paranormal set during the restoration of the gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

Awesome. Where can folks find you, Velda, and your books?

They can find me at
http://www.veldabrotherton.com/ 

And my books at 
http://www.tinyurl.com/7dr9mbn


Thanks, Velda. Okay, folks, don't forget to comment for your chance for a copy of Stone Heart's Woman, and be sure to leave your email addy. We'll be contacting the winner in a few days. Good luck, all.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Behind the Book Mania ~ Author Spotlight on W. Lynn Chantale

Posted by Mackenzie Crowne at 5:43 PM
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Hi Folks,

So glad you could stop by and help me welcome the lovely and talented, W. Lynn Chantale. Lynn's story, The Designer's Bride, is part of the Valentine Delights Kiss Me Anthology from Still Moments Publishing, and she's consented to join me in my mania today. Hiya Lynn. Thanks for visiting.

Hi Mac, thanks for the opportunity to share in your mania. I hope you don’t mind, but I brought along my bartender Tyrell. Chef had to stay and get ready for another guest, but I brought plenty of goodies with me.

Goodies AND a bartender. Oh, I just knew we were going to be friends, sister. I especially don’t mind that you brought Tyrell along. In fact, I’ve always wanted my own bartender. I’m sooo jealous. *waves fingers at Tyrell.* I would normally have a cosmo, but for now, I'll stick to Bailey's for my coffee. Everyone grab a drink and get comfy.

Okay, spiked coffee in hand, curiosity freed. What was the germ of the idea behind your story, Lynn?

Well I cheated a little bit, I took characters I was already familiar with and plugged them into a Valentine themed story. The conflict I had to change a bit to suit the word count, but other than that it was a lot of fun.

I’ll bet. I always miss my characters once the typing is done, and love to go back and visit them. What is the first book you remember loving?

The first book would’ve been Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. I loved having those poems read to me as a kid.

I know what you mean. I find the pace of poetic prose so soothing. Ahem, weird little factoid. Anyhoo, where is the oddest place you’ve ever pulled out a book?

I don’t know if it’s odd, but I will read in church. I mean there’s only so many hymns I can really or want to sing.

Geez! Why didn’t I ever think of that? Those Latin masses would have been so much more entertaining. ;-) Most authors begin writing because they love to read. Is this true with you and if so, did you write your first book because you were inspired, or because you thought, hell, I can do better than this?

I love to read, so that part is true and I wrote a bunch of short stories in elementary. I’ll have to share those one day. But I do remember reading my hundredth or so romance and saying. Oh yeah, I can do better than this. That’s how Elisabeth Bach came about.

Mediocrity is a great motivator, isn’t it? And since you mentioned the heroine of The Designer’s Bride, what was it about Elisabeth Bach that made you want to tell her story?

She's this feisty, passionate woman bent on finding a happily-ever-after, despite her father meddling in her life. With her story I wanted to show that even though she had everything money could buy, she wanted the one thing it couldn't...love. And that means more to her than anything else.

Elisabeth sounds determined as well as feisty – my favorite combination in a heroine. So, was your road to publication a hair-raising, pothole ridden mountain pass, or a well-tended superhighway?

It would’ve been nice if it was a well-tended superhighway, but it was a pothole ridden soggy dirt road. Watch out for the mud. Once a very kind editor and an English teacher pointed me in the right direction, the rest they say is history.

There is nothing wrong with a little mud and a few potholes. I bet they taught you a thing or two about your style. What is one thing your readers would be surprised to learn about you?

I am not a people person. One on one is fine, maybe even a group of three, but more than that and I’m looking for the nearest exit.

While shyness isn’t in my gene pool, I’ve met many authors just like you, Lynn. Funny how many shy people end up sharing their talent through the written word. And thank God for it. In my opinion, there can never be enough good books out there, like The Designer’s Bride. Give us a little peek, will you?

Blurb:
 
Jordan has planned the perfect wedding, only one catch, the bride hasn't said yes.

For cosmetics heiress Elisabeth Bach, finding the right man hasn’t been easy, especially when her father is bent on arranging her love life for his own twisted purposes. When she falls for fashion designer Jordan Carlisle, she knows she’s met The One, and she’ll do anything to keep their relationship secret from her father’s schemes.

Jordan Carlisle has been waiting a long time for a chance to date Elisabeth and he’s determined to make her his wife. Will a Valentine’s Day proposal be enough to keep her or will his checkered past destroy his future? 

Excerpt:

Watching him reminded her of the first time they met and her lips quirked at the memory. At least then she’d had some warning of the broken date…
Alone. Again. Elisabeth managed a halfhearted smile as she laid her phone on the pristine white linen and accepted a menu from the maitre d’. “Thank you,” she murmured.
She glanced around the quiet restaurant. Cloth-topped tables dotted the room while various couples sat shrouded in shadows, heads bent, indulging in private conversations. With a sigh, she opened her menu. She didn’t even know why she bothered anymore.
Dating was hard under the best of circumstances, but in the last year it seemed to grow more difficult. Any man who survived to the third date, canceled by the fourth. Which is why she sat in a four star restaurant alone...again. She didn’t even have the heart to stay anymore.
“Will someone be joining you this evening, Miss Bach?”
She smiled at the sandy-haired waiter hovering near her elbow. “Not tonight. I think I’ll just go home.”
A frown creased his lightly tanned features. “That’s too bad. A gentleman at another table asked if he might join you.”
“Are you playing matchmaker again, Dylan?”
He chuckled. “No ma’am. He saw you sitting alone.”
“I think I can take it from here,” a smooth, velvety voice interrupted.
Dylan nodded and backed away. Elisabeth straightened a little in her chair. Her breath stuck in her throat at the intensity of the newcomer’s stare. His long slow perusal left her body simmering.
His jet black hair was cut close, the smooth hairline tapering to neatly trimmed sideburns. Otherwise, his rugged face was clean-shaven. He smiled and her eyes were drawn to his full, sexy mouth. For a moment, she wondered how his lips would feel pressed against hers. Desire flooded her veins.
“Jordan Carlisle.” He offered his hand. The oversized watch on his wrist winked in the dim light, vying for attention with his gold cufflinks.
 She accepted his hand. “Elisabeth.” She snapped her gaze to his at the crackle of electricity between them. He held her hand a second too long and flirtation gleamed in the depths of his coffee-colored eyes.
“Mind if I join you?” He waved to the vacant chair across from hers.
She shook her head and bit back a sigh when his biceps flexed against the dark silk of his suit jacket. He unbuttoned his coat and sat down.
“I hate dining alone,” he said, smiling apologetically.
“I do too. I was just about to leave.” She studied him from beneath her lashes before meeting his eyes a second time. He seemed familiar to her, yet she couldn’t quite place where she’d seen him. “Have we met before?”
He smiled, wide and easy, and her heart fluttered in anticipation.
“Not formally. I’m a friend of your brother’s. We went to college together.”
His dark good looks and devil-may-care eyes slid into place in her memory. The photo in her brother’s room, of the lacrosse team. Jordan had been the captain.
“You and Drew played lacrosse.”
He nodded. “How is Andrew? It’s been a few months since we’ve seen each other.”
“Out of town at the moment. At a conference.” She reached for her water glass and Dylan reappeared with a second menu. “I’ll have to tell Andrew we spoke.”
 “I’m sure he won’t mind.” Jordan smiled again and she melted.
She shook her head. “He thinks I should get out more, but my father has a way of sabotaging my love life.” She sipped her water.
He regarded her a moment, avid interest shining in his eyes. “You are definitely worth protecting.”
Heat crept into her cheeks from his scrutiny as well as the compliment. “You’re pretty suave, aren’t you?”
He chuckled, a smooth laugh that reminded her of warm fudge. “When it suits me.”
“Like now?”
He inclined his head.
“And my father knows nothing about you?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
She picked up a menu. “Let’s keep it that way.”

Oh, I do love me a suave, black-haired man. I'm hooked! Where can we find the Valentine Delights Kiss Me anthology, Lynn?

And where can we find you?


Website:http://www.wlynnchantale.com/ 
Blog:http://wlynnchantale-decadentdecisions.blogspot.com/

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Toy Fair 2012 ~ Mac's manic adventure continues...

Posted by Mackenzie Crowne at 4:42 AM
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Day three...

If you've been reading the last couple of days, you know I headed off to Manhattan on Saturday and lived through hell on Sunday. (I don't want to talk about it) But today is a new day, and the football season is behind us. Thanks for a fabulously entertaining season, boys. Go Pats!

This morning I began the first day of the reason I traveled across the country. Did I mention this was a working vacation? Oh, I didn't? Well, technically I'm here to do a job, but when you get to spend time with family and friends in Manhattan, it barely feels like work.

For years I've been bundling myself up in my winter clothes at the beginning of February to head to the Big Apple for the yearly week of chaos known as Toy Fair. In years past, I was handed a script and convinced toy buyers they just had to have that new goodie on their shelves. (The first toy I pimped was the Cabbage Patch Potty Chair. That one never made it to the market, but I had a lot of fun telling people about it.) I've pushed some other doozies over the years. These days, however, instead of pimping the toys, I make them look pretty, so someone else can pimp them.

Day one of the chaos is behind me, and I enjoyed meeting up with the other trimmers I work with every year.  

Day four...

More fun with the trimmers, but now my feet hurt, two of my fingers are superglued together, and several nails are broken. Did I say it barely felt like work? What was I thinking? 

The showroom, however, is beginning to look like a showroom instead of a storeroom, and characters are flying high on Sesame Street, thanks to Jimmy and Moira (and their twelve assistants). 

Calling for snow today. What? I don't have any boots. I'm from AZ!

Until later... 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another Manic Adventure

Posted by Mackenzie Crowne at 6:23 AM
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Hiya Folks.

*Waving frantically from the streets of NY* 

It's February, so that must mean Toy Fair is just around the corner. This year my sissy and I are being joined by our sis in law, entering the cement jungle of Manhattan to play with next year's toys. We'll be lifting and hauling, polishing and posing, until everything shines. And while we're at it, we'll be having a bit of fun (except for Sunday-when I'll be surrounded by Giants fans while Tom and Company pick up their new superbowl bling) Pray for my safety. 

We'll be busy, but when I can, I'll let you know what we're up to. So feel free to pop back in.

Go Pats! 

DAY ONE...


So, my brother was kind enough to take my sis in law, Kim, and I to the airport. He's a worry wort, so he made sure to get us there with plenty of time. Kim and I checked our bags and headed for the gate, and Kim mentioned she had her winter coat shoved into her carry on so she wouldn't be cold when we arrived. Yikes! That was when I realized, MY winter coat was still back at my house. Of course hubby and son sleep too soundly to hear the phone. With the help of wonderful neighbors, thanks R and M, who rang the doorbell and woke hubby, I boarded the plane with coat in hand. 

The plane was full and we sat with a lovely woman on the first leg of the flight. Mike was her name. I love that! We landed in Baltimore, and as I learned on one of the many blogs I have read in past couple of months, I said goodbye after handing her a bookmark for Gift of the Realm. (marketing on vacation) I met another young woman during the layover. She was heading to Florida to see her family. Her brother is a Giants fan and has a big superbowl party every year. She's a Pat's fan, and was sneaking down to surprise them all and spoil their fun. I liked her immediately! LOL I left another bookmark with her.

Living in Phx, I haven't seen snow in a long time, but Baltimore had plenty for us. We waited for the plane taking us on to La Guardia to be de-iced and off we went. And now we've arrived safely in NYC. My family is awesome. Every time I arrive I realize how much I miss them in between visits.

Pictured here are Kim and I with cuz, John. That's Bradley in back, the little stinker. LOL

Though we are tired, South Pacific is playing on Aunties new 70 inch HD flat screen. Can't miss that. "There is nothing like a dame ..." LOL I love the classics.
 
So, tomorrow the gang gathers for the game. Ugh. I plan to drink heavily. LOL

DAY TWO...

Told you I was going to drink heavily. That's my wine glass, hanging out with the ingredients for "Better than sex chocolate cupcakes" YUMMM! Thank you, little cuz, Stephanie.


So, half two is about to begin. Is Belichick pulling a fast one? Come on Gronk, the Big Blue think you're out of the picture. Add to that record, baby! Go Pats! 


BTW. Watching the game with a bunch of Giant fans sucks! LOL

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