Friday, January 31, 2014

Interview with Regency romance author Wareeze Woodson

Please give a hearty Reviews and Interviews welcome to romance author Wareeze Woodson. She’s here today to talk about her Regency novel, Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman.

Wareeze has 3 giveaways during her tour. Two lucky people will receive an e-book of Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman and one lucky person will receive a $50 gift card. To be entered for a chance to win one of the giveaways, leave a comment below. And to increase your chances of winning something, feel free to visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too!

Welcome, Wareeze. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a native of Texas, but I have traveled throughout America and beyond. As a dreamer, I love to visit new places where I can image a heroine meeting a hero in a special way. I’m an avid reader (all sorts) and I love to write.

I married my high school sweetheart and after having raised three sons plus one daughter, our love for each other remains unshaken. Now we enjoy our eight grandchildren. Grandchildren are grand. We can send them home, but we’re always happy for their return.

Outside of my family activities, I sing with the Silver Belles at my church and hate to miss even one practice. The local chapter of RWA is also at the top of my list of pleasures. It keeps me grounded with craft and connected with other writers.

Most of all, I enjoy going fishing with my husband. Give me a pole and leave me alone to bask in the sun, listening to water gurgle along the riverbanks while allowing my mind to float away to some distance place. Ah! Perfect.

Please tell us about your current release.
Recently widowed Lady Laurel Laningham flees Landings to escape her untenable position. Alone now and at the mercy of her sister-in-law, she decides to nestle under her aunt’s wings for a spell. To add to her burdens, her young son’s new guardian, Lord Adron Gladrey, has announced his intentions to take complete charge of his ward. The killer is stalking her and a devious jewel thief is stealing the family jewels. Can she convince her son’s guardian she is not a dangerous lunatic and is perfectly capable of raising her son or will he always consider her untrustworthy as a mother to his ward? Will his stubborn blindness send her straight into the path of the murderer, or will he relent in time to save her from following her husband into the grave?

What inspired you to write this book?
Part of a story bothered me and the ending made me want to throw the book against the wall. I decided to write my own version. In the book I mentioned, the mother pretended to want her child, but she found a rich man besotted with her charms and married him without looking back. She left her child behind to be raised by others. I couldn’t stomach the thought of such a selfish mother.

Needless to say, my story is nothing like the other novel. I wanted a heroine with courage and devotion, a mother willing to protect her child at all cost. I found my heroine much more satisfying.

Excerpt from Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman:

Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Each rotation of the hired coach’s wheels whispered the word. Laurel cradled her sleeping two-year-old son, the new Lord Laningham, as a heady sense of satisfaction curved her lips. She didn’t even mind the slight musty odor pervading the vehicle, although she leaned over and raised the window cover for a breath of fresh air. With a sigh she settled back against the seat. At least for a while, Rhonda’s constant complaints would no longer ring in her ears and for that she was devoutly thankful.
Out of nowhere, a rider flashed by the coach window and her startled gaze locked with his brief glance. Although she’d caught only a glimpse of the stranger, in that instant his intense, deep-brown eyes mocked her and unease shivered down her spine. She stared after him for a second before instinctively gathering her child closer. Laurel planted a kiss on his blonde curls, drawing reassurance from the nearness of his warm little body. As long as she had Jamie nothing else mattered. Her son must remain safe.
Everything happened at once. The coach lunged to the right and scraped against the bushes beside the road, sending a shower of droplets splashing inside the window. Her book and Jamie’s wooden horse thumped to the floor. The racket of brakes screeching shrilled in her ears as the vehicle rattled and lurched out of control.
“Jamie,” she cried.
The horses’ screams echoed through her head and the sudden jerk of the coach as the team broke away from the trace chains added to her fear. When the doomed coach started to roll onto its side, she braced her feet against the opposite bench and clutched her son tightly against her chest. Tumbling against the seat, she scraped her elbows and banged her head. The sensation of falling forever tensed every muscle in her body before the force of the impact threatened to tear Jamie from her arms. She landed between the banquettes against the door, her howling child clutched in her arms. The carriage lantern, suspended from a hook on the wall, swayed overhead scraping metal against metal and briefly caught her attention.
Laurel struggled to a sitting position, gulped a deep breath and wiped dirt from Jamie’s face. With her heart in her throat, she examined a tiny trickle of blood at his hairline. Thankful his injury appeared minor she clutched him to her bosom and kissed his cheek, comforting his cries as her pulse slowed to normal.
The accident left her shaken. Frightened, she felt more alone than ever. If only Robert were still alive. She stifled that thought immediately—nothing could be accomplished by wishing for the impossible.
Laurel drew a shaky breath and tilted her head back in order to peer at the window above. Panic overwhelmed her and her breath came in short gasps. The banquettes seemed to close in on her. She fought to escape her trapped position in the overturned coach. Holding Jamie with one arm, she grasped the seat with her other hand and struggled to her feet. Her head whirled for a second before settling back into a deep pounding pain, while her knee and elbow throbbed in rhythm.
Ignoring her discomfort, she glanced around. As she studied the problem, she heard the murmur of voices and listened intently. With a sigh of relief, she recognized the driver’s voice however the other deep tone was unfamiliar.
“Help me,” She cried, “I’m in here.”
Only silence echoed back and the sound of voices moved off. For a second, panic clenched her stomach and her head pounded even harder.
“Stay calm,” she whispered, and the words spoken aloud steadied her. She listened for several long minutes before someone climbed atop the overturned coach. The door was yanked open with considerable force and she breathed a sigh of relief. Gray clouds added gloom to the inside of the carriage and a dark figure blocked out what little light was available. She couldn’t see his face clearly, but his broad shoulders and the arrogant slant of his head were a shadowy outline against the stormy sky.
His voice floated down to her. “Are you or the child injured?”
“I think several scrapes and bruises at most.” Laurel trembled and brushed her bonnet out of her face. She heard his quick intake of breath.
“You’re positive? You must have taken quite a tumble when the coach overturned. Possibly you’re more injured than you know.”
“Only a little shaken.” She took a deep, calming breath then continued with more force. “I’m certain we’re both fine.”
He hesitated and exhaled deeply. “A damsel in distress then. Do you perhaps have a name?”
Authority rang in his voice. She clutched Jamie a little tighter and offered him a tremulous smile. “Laurel Jane Laningham. Thank you for coming to our rescue.” She shaded her eyes with one hand, waiting for him to return the introduction.
“Let’s get you out of there. Hand me the boy first.”
He reached down into the overturned coach and Laurel lifted Jamie above her head into the waiting arms of the stranger. Her rescuer leapt to the ground with her son. A chill of foreboding curled around her. He’d said the boy. An unknown man shouldn’t know the child was a male. With every one of her senses alert, she listened intently for the stranger to return. Saddle leather squeaked and the thunder of hooves struck the ground in retreat.
Laurel screamed, “Bring my son back. I’ll see you hanged for this, you blackguard. Come back here. Help. Driver, help me.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
An Enduring Love will be release March 2014. Edits, blurbs, and all manner of things are required before that date.

Here is the blurb:
Born and raised in Latvia, Rebecca Balodis marries Rhys Sudduth, an English diplomat. Shortly thereafter, he is summoned home to attend his father’s death-bed. Rebecca cannot accompany him at the time and becomes trapped in the turmoil plaguing her country. He is informed she died in the upheaval. 
Nearly four years later, she escapes and arrives in London with their son in tow. Arriving in the middle of his sister’s ball is very awkward, especially since Rhys plans to announce his betrothal to a young debutante later in the evening.

Trouble, tangled in suspense and danger, follow her from Latvia. Can this pair ever find or even recognize an enduring love? Is it worth keeping?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I considered myself as a writer the day I signed the contract for Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman. I’ve written off and on for years, but I needed the validation of actually having a book published before the fact sank into my brain.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am retired from my job as the accounts manager for a medical equipment firm. I write at least 100 words each day. There are times when I spend several hours at the computer, but alas life must be lived.  An article by a writer I ran across astounded me when he revealed his time schedule. He spent 30% of his day on social media (A must for a writer) and 70% writing. I wondered when he had time to live.

My grandson gets off of the bus at my house and eats a snack before we tackle homework. I also have a very dear husband that I must consider. Meals to cook, groceries to purchase, a house to clean and minor things like that take some of each day. If I’m in the middle of something really important, I tell everyone to leave me alone for a while. Sometimes it works.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Some would find it amusing that I started my first novel at the end and wrote forward. I don’t do that anymore, or mostly not. I am a pantser and a plotter combined. I write a scene, and if I like it, I plot it into the script.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a nurse because my mother was a nurse. I admired her very much. When I entered high school, I discovered that I liked teaching. I traded it all in to marry my high school sweetheart and raise children. I don’t regret that decision in the least.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I hope your love of reading will continue throughout your life. Only imagine all the places you can visit without leaving the comfort of your home. Have a happy life and escape into a book for a spell to replenish your inner self.


Thanks, Wareeze! Readers, remember to comment if you want a chance to win one of the giveaways!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book excerpt for "Untangle My Heart" by Maria K. Alexander

Today I’m featuring a book blurb and excerpt for the contemporary romance novel, Untangle My Heart, by Maria K. Alexander.

Maria will award a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during her tour. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. And to increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too. 

When her marriage ended in tragedy, Kate DiFrancesco rebuilt her life, but has never gotten over the pain of what she lost. Seeking the help of an ex-lover ignites feelings she’s promised never to have again. She’ll need to untangle herself from dangers in her past in order to break the hard shell around her heart.

Edward Weston has a lot to prove, both to his stuffy upper-crust British family, and to  himself. Working alongside Kate, a woman he had a casual relationship with, stirs unexpected feelings. Helping her family makes him realize what he's missing. For the first time, he wants more than a one-night stand.

When Kate is threatened, Edward must overcome feeling unworthy to protect the woman he loves and fight for the family he never thought he’d have.

“Good morning,” he said. “Ready to go?”

“I’m all set.” She swung her laptop bag over one shoulder and grabbed the handle of her suitcase with her opposite hand.

“I’ll take that,” Edward said, reaching for the suitcase.

“I have it,” she snapped and held firmly onto the handle. His old-fashioned ways sometimes annoyed her and today was one of those days. Why was he always trying to be nice to her? It would be easier to maintain her distance if he wasn’t so damned considerate. Damned British manners. “I don’t need your help.”

He raised an eyebrow at her outburst but let go of his hold on the suitcase. “Fine. I see someone didn’t get her coffee this morning.”

“Wrong. I had two cups.” And a restless night of sleep with alternating dreams of Edward and Lucas. Frustrated from tossing and turning all night, she’d gotten up at four and started baking.

“I made biscotti if you’d like some.” She handed him a white bakery bag, hoping her offering of food would compensate for her irritable mood.

He opened the bag and pulled one out. “Are they safe to eat or did you use arsenic instead of sugar?”

Rather than dignify him with an answer, she leaned forward and took a bite. It was still warm and the chocolate chips melted in her mouth. Edward’s gaze studied her mouth as she chewed and for a minute Kate thought he may take a nibble out of her.

“Perfectly safe. I swear,” she said after swallowing.

He popped the other half in his mouth. “Not bad.”

“Not bad, my ass,” Kate said.

“That’s pretty fine, too.”

Author bio and links:
A romantic at heart, Maria K. Alexander spent hours as a young girl getting lost in and wishing to be one of the heroines in the stories she read. Books gave her the ability to go to another world where she loved meeting new characters, learning about their problems, and watching them fall in love.

Maria blogs and shares her writing journey with her critique partners at The Violet Femmes Blog.

When not writing, Maria loves to read, bake, downhill ski, visit the beach, and watch romantic comedies. Maria lives in New Jersey with her husband and children, and writes in her “spare” time between juggling a full-time job and her kids’ busy schedules.

Social links:

Amazon Buy Link -- The book will be free through the duration of the tour January 28 - 31.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Interview with urban fantasy author Deborah A. Bailey

Today’s featured focus is on the novel Hathor Legacy: Outcast. It’s an urban fantasy, paranormal romantic suspense novel by Deborah A. Bailey.

During her tour (running every Wednesday from Jan 1 to Feb 19) Deborah will be awarding two print copies (US ONLY) of Hathor Legacy: Outcast to two randomly drawn commenters. Also, a Grand Prize of a $25 Amazon gift card will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and enter there, too.

As a little girl when Deborah A. Bailey was watching Star Trek and Twilight Zone, she was writing and drawing her own superheroine comics. When she grew up, she continued to write and followed her love of technology into a career as a computer programmer and developer. But writing was never far away from her heart, so over the years she wrote and published stories set on other worlds and in Earth's future. Ultimately she fulfilled a lifelong dream and completed her first novel.

Her short stories have won awards from the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and her work has been published in US1 Magazine and the Sun. And she recently published a short story collection, Electric Dreams: Seven Futuristic Tales. In her "other" life, she's a freelance writer who's published two non-fiction books and countless articles that have appeared in print and online. Visit her blog for writing tips, interviews, and updates. 

Welcome, Deborah. Please tell us about your release, Hathor Legacy: Outcast.
It's a futuristic romantic suspense set on the planet, Hathor. A powerful group called the Guardians serves as the security force for Novacorp, the corporation that runs Hathor with its ruthless monopoly. Nadira, as one of the most powerful Guardians, is expected to use her intuition and telekinetic powers to keep the capital city safe from thieves and intruders.

Jonathan Keel, son of a mine CEO on the nearby planet, Astarte, is wealthy, privileged and used to getting what he wants. When his father goes missing after a robbery and explosion at the mine, he defies the authorities and heads to Hathor to search for him and for the robbers.

Security is on high alert and Nadira is charged with protecting Jon. She rescues him from a vicious attack and discovers that the Guardians have another agenda that has nothing to do with solving the crime.

Jonathan finds evidence of his father's possible involvement, while his attraction to Nadira forces her to confront all she has known about being a Guardian, especially the rule to put duty before her personal feelings.

Struggling with their growing desires, and chased by company security, Jon and Nadira flee the city. But solving the crime leads them to endure betrayals from the people closest to them, as secrets are revealed that not only link their pasts but also threaten to destroy Jon's family and separate him from Nadira forever.

What inspired you to write this book?
I've always been drawn to science fiction and futuristic themes. I'm a long-time fan of the Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, and I love to ask, "what if?" So, I wondered what would happen if people developed psychic powers, like telekinesis and the ability to read minds. I combined that idea with the setting on a faraway planet run by a gigantic corporation. The corporation came to mind based on my experiences as a corporate employee--so that part was easy to create! I love romantic suspense, which is why it's a big part of the story. 

Nadira opened her eyes. Above her, the cream-colored ceiling swam into view. Shifting herself, she braced her hands against a nearby table and lifted her head. Bad idea. She leaned her face against the cool, glass surface of the table, and hung on, waiting for the dizziness to pass.

It was a violation for Guardians to use their powers against each other. The charge was serious enough to incur banishment--something that hadn't happened in recent memory.

Ilana couldn't have the same abilities as a Guardian. There had to be another explanation.

"Are you all right?" With a groan, Jon dragged himself over and crouched beside her. "How the hell did she do that?"

Nadira eased herself into a sitting position, resting her back against the edge of the table. "She must've used some kind of weapon or had a chemical enhancement." She'd have to wait until her head was clear before she could sort it all out.

"She didn't use a weapon," he said, his grey eyes searching hers. "It came from her--the same way you blasted those attackers."

"Her abilities aren't as strong as mine…and she hasn't been properly trained, so she's reckless. She uses all her power in her blasts." Nadira rubbed her forehead. "I tried to read her, but I couldn't get through her shields."

"If she's weaker, how could she blast you?"

"She used my abilities against me. People who are weaker can undermine someone who has stronger energy."

Jonathan helped her to her feet. Her legs were wobbly, but after a moment she was able to stand on her own.

"We have to get out of here now. They're calling security," he said.

Supported by Jon's firm arm around her shoulders, she walked out into the corridor.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm working on a sequel to this book, called Hathor Legacy: Burn. It'll include Nadira and Jonathan, the main characters from the first book. I've already completed the first draft, and I can say it'll have even more suspense and answer a few questions about the origins of the Guardians.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I've always considered myself a writer. As a child I was always dreaming up stories. It's something I really enjoy doing. There are things that you feel are your life purpose, and for me, it's being a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I'm also a freelance writer, so I'm always writing something. My career path started in fashion merchandising, after that I became a copywriter. Then I took a detour into computer programming, so I didn't write for a long time. Now I'm back to writing full-time.

My workday usually consists of exercise in the morning--when I manage not to talk myself out of it! Then I start working around 10:00 am. I'm a night person, so it's not unlikely for me to still be writing at 10:00 pm. But I make sure to take breaks during the day.

When it's nice out, I go for walks and exercise outdoors. That really helps me to get ideas and keeps my energy flowing. Right now I'm working from home, and that helps me to manage my schedule so that I can work on my book. But if I have to work on a project at an office, it can be tough. Once you add in commuting, it leaves much less time to get personal things done.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write best when I have music on. My iPod has several playlists that I use depending on the mood. If it's action, I listen to music I can dance to. If it's romantic, I listen to something slower. My music has to line up with what's going on in the story. The catch is that sometimes if the beat is fast, I'm tempted to do a little dancing in between chapters!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I have a feeling that you already know the answer! I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. There's something about storytelling that's really exciting. It's fun to create worlds and characters.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks so much for inviting me to stop by your blog and share my book with your readers!


Thanks, Deborah!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Interview with romantic suspense author Catherine Castle

I’m shining the spotlight on romantic suspense author Catherine Castle today. She’s touring her novel, The Nun and the Narc with Goddess Fish Promotions.

Catherine will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter between this tour and her Name Before the Masses tour. To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops (of either tour) and leave comments there, too. 

Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist and is a 2013 EPIC finalist.

Welcome, Catherine. Please tell us about your current release.
The Nun and the Narc is an inspirational suspense romance about a novice who gets caught up in a drug deal when she tries to stop it. Sister Margaret Mary is a bit stubborn, and perhaps not the best nun material, according to Mother Superior, but she’s determined to follow her commitment to take her final vows. Then while on a house building mission to Mexico, she gets captured by drug lords and imprisoned with undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Sparks fly between the two and destinies are changed.

What inspired you to write this book?
This book was begun as a contest entry for the Dixie Contest. I wanted to write an inspirational romance and thought I’d try and get some feedback by using a contest to see how readers responded to the first few chapters. I wanted to do something different than the inspirational romances I had read, something outside the norm. After a false start where my heroine was a missionary, not a nun, the book found its true form when one of my critique partners suggested I turn the heroine into a nun. I did, and the book started writing itself. I only had a few chapters finished when I submitted it to the contest, but was compelled to finish it.

Excerpt from The Nun and the Narc:
“Why don’t you tell me, Miss . . . whoever you are?”

“Margaret Mary O’Connor. Sis—“ Her introduction changed into a scream. “Look out!”

Jed’s head whipped around just as the car plowed through a market stand of live chickens. Poultry, wooden cages, and feathers scattered over the car. An angry hen dropped through the car’s open sunroof, squawking and flapping in front of Jed, beating his head with its wings.

Margaret reached over, grabbed the bird, and threw it back out the sunroof opening. But it was too late. The car glanced off an adobe wall into a second market stand and careened toward another building. Jed jammed on the brakes. The car spun three hundred and sixty degrees before screeching to a stop.

The impact threw Margaret sideways against the passenger window. She hit her head on the glass, the blow blinding her for a second. Jed’s body slammed into the steering wheel setting off the horn. The wail echoed in Margaret’s head as she struggled to remain conscious. Warmth trickled down the side of her head. Margaret managed to focus her eyes as the noise stopped. Two Jeds leaned toward her, in slow motion. She blinked to clear her vision.

“You all right?” he asked.

“I think so.” Something warm and sticky seeped down her face. She reached up and wiped her temple. “I’m bleeding,” she said as she stared at her fingers. The words sounded slurred. At the sight of the blood on her fingers, her stomach rolled.

What exciting story are you working on next?
One of the problems with having several partially finished manuscripts is deciding what you will be working on next. I have a sweet, romantic comedy in the wings and a sweet romantic suspense that are partially finished, an inspirational historical romance and I just came up with an idea for two more books. I like to work on more than one project at a time. It keeps things fresh.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written. As a teen it was poems and sappy romances, and sci-fi/fantasy short stories. In the 90s I began writing for a local newspaper, getting bylines and getting paid to write. That first byline convinced me I could do more than write for my own enjoyment. I haven’t looked back since.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Even when I was a journalist my writing was part-time. When I stopped working for other editors, I set one or two days aside to work on my fiction. Nothing interfered with those days. Family and friends knew if they called I would not answer the phone. Now, it’s more of a tyranny of the urgent. If I have a deadline I will write all day, every day until it’s done. If no deadline looms, I’ll take care of home things, work in my garden, or be with the hubby. I do have to stop by 7 p.m. though, because I’ve discovered that if I write too late at night, I end up pulling an all-nighter. That gets harder as I get older because insomnia is hard on one’s health.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I usually find my title first, and write the book blurb before I start writing the books.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A singer. It was my only career choice. Now I wish I had realized I could have made a career of writing, but like most youths, I was short-sighted.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The Nun and the Narc is a finalist in the EPIC contest in the action/adventure romance category. I’m very excited and pleased to be included in this prestigious contest.

E-book at Amazon

Print version: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Thanks, Catherine! Readers, don't forget to leave a comment if you'd like a chance to win the gift card.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Interview with mystery author Charles Taylor

Today's feature is the mystery thriller novel Lakeside University Cover Up by Charles Taylor. 

During his virtual book tour, Charles will be giving away one copy of his beautifully illustrated book, Kwanzaa: How To Celebrate It Your Home. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below.

Dr. Charles "Chuck" Taylor, author, speaker and diversity expert is one of the leading voices in diversity education today: He is currently a Professor in the School of Education at a small private Liberal Arts College in the Midwest. Although he has written over a dozen books, Lakeside University Cover Up is his first novel. Dr. Taylor has also written ROARrrr-a full-length children’s musical play; Decade of Discontent, a highly acclaimed documentary about the Milwaukee, WI Civil Rights movement; and continues to serve as a national consultant in the areas of diversity and inclusion

Welcome, Charles. Please tell us about your current release.
On a cool, autumn evening, the Lakeside University community was shaken to its core by a cross burning on the front lawn of a house rented by two African American students, Gloria Wilson and Ashante Melashe. Gloria’s trust in fair play is shattered when campus officials call the incident a harmless prank. However a glimmer of hope is restored as black and white students rally to her side in a series of protests to force the administration into conducting a full investigation. Undaunted, the administration devises a divide and conquer scheme that creates a rift between black and white students. As the mistrust grows the campus stands on the verge of a racial explosion. Campus leaders, seeking a way out of the crisis turn to Dr. Wendell Oliver, the countrys leading expert in diffusing racial tension.

Dr. Oliver suspects there is more to the cross burning that the administration is willing to reveal. He also believes that the students are the key to resolving the crisis if he can get them to work together. He takes the feuding students to a wooded campsite off campus for a weekend retreat filled with action, danger, sexual attraction and racial conflict. One of the pivotal moments occurs when Dr. Oliver asks everyone to pair up with someone of a different race and spend substantial time together. He helps students look beyond themselves, stretch their own boundaries and discover the secret behind the cross burning. They learn that the cross burning is more than just about racism. Its wicked flames shed light on corrupt cops, complicit college administrators and misguided attitudes that point to a major cover up. When students piece the puzzle together, justice is finally served but it comes with a steep price. Lakeside University will never be the same again.

What inspired you to write this book?
My work with college students and their idealism and belief that they can tackle our deep seated racial challenges. I’ve taken white students and students of color on weekend retreats and watched the transformation that takes place when students allow their true feelings to emerge. Lakeside University Cover Up provides a framework for discussing and evaluating the response to a racially motivated “hate crime” on a college campus. It is the “perfect teaching tool” allowing students to analyze the role of each character and discuss how they would handle a similar racial incident on their campus. Lakeside University Cover Up provides a very dramatic, yet real example of what it means to build an inclusive and socially just campus. The lessons displayed in the story can be applied to any institution and can serve as a catalyst for real change in campus policies and climate.

The nightmare started almost immediately. In the dream, Gloria looked out a window into a deep fog, as a bright light drew closer. In the mist she saw a silhouette of a woman nailed to a cross. She saw figures dressed in white robes. Their taunting was shrill and harsh. She got close enough to see the woman’s face. It was Ashante. Gloria looked again, and her own face looked back. She felt like she was burning inside and looked down to see flames surrounding her.

The ringing of the telephone startled Gloria awake.

She grabbed for it with one hand, wiping sweat from her forehead with the other. "Hello?" she said, her heart pounding in her throat.

A male voice answered. "Is this the house where the cross was burned tonight?"

In her sleepy confusion, Gloria thought the caller might be the campus police, finally following up on the crime. "Yes!" she said, relieved. “Who is this?”

"I—I'm not sure why I'm calling. But what they did was terrible,” the caller said. “You have to understand that's just how they are. It was nothing personal.”

Gloria sat up, instantly alert. But she kept her voice calm; afraid the caller would hang up if she sounded too excited. "You know who did it?" she said.

"I know what I know," the caller replied. "But, that’s not why I’m calling. I just wanted you to know it's not like everyone on campus is racist or against black people. Some of us just get caught up in shit and before we know it, it's too late."

"Can you tell me who did it?” Gloria asked.

"It won’t do you any good."

"Why not? They committed a crime. They should be expelled. They should be arrested." Gloria heard the urgency in her voice and struggled to control it.

"The university won't do anything," the caller told her. "As far as the police are concerned, this is just a big waste of time.”

"Could you at least tell me your name?"

"No way. I've told you more than I should have already. Mea culpa, mea culpa. I gotta go."

And the phone went silent.

Gloria ran to wake up Ashante. She called her name and even shook her, but received no response other than light snoring. Then she noticed the bottle of sleeping pills on the bedside table. She went into the kitchen for some water and drank it slowly as she worked up the courage to look out the front window. A car cruised by, its headlights dimmed, and she recognized the campus patrol car. She felt reassured for a moment, but then her eyes were drawn to the circle of scorched grass where the cross had blazed just hours before. The glow from the streetlights revealed just enough to bring her anger rushing back.

"Why?" she asked aloud. "Why would they do this? Why us?"  Her questions reminded her of Sgt. Thomas and his callous attitude.

"I guess we did do something to provoke them," she whispered to the night. "We were in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong skin color."

Gloria shivered, even though it was warm inside the house. She couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching her. Despite her brave words to her parents, she really wished she could go home. She couldn’t remember a time when she had been so frightened. She wrapped her robe tighter and retreated to Ashante’s room. She climbed into bed next to Ashante, shivered again, and huddled close to her friend, trying to push her fear away long enough to fall asleep. As the impact of the night’s event hit home, she was once again reminded what racism was really like and how much it deeply hurt.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a non-fiction reference directory: Guide to Multicultural Resources. I’m also working on a film about people working in a housing project that have created a model for reducing poverty and closing the academic achievement gap. It’s a story of hope and accomplishment.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until I became an adult and published a national newspaper for college campuses covering news by and about students and scholars of color.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m an educator. I’m a full-time college professor by date and in addition to doing a great deal of academic writing, I love to write fiction, plays and scripts. I just have to fit it in during the evenings and weekends.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if it’s interesting but I have to listen to music when I write. I especially like listening to Luther Vandross. His music moves me emotionally and that tends to lead to better writing on my part.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It changed a lot but I always wanted to be involved in education and that’s what I’ve been doing most of my life.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Never surrender your dreams. If writing is something you seriously want to pursue, then go for it! You have to treat it seriously, put in the time, learn your craft and continue to improve.


Thanks for the interview!

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Interview with historical romance author Regan Walker

Christmas is back! And so is Regan Walker. Today, Regan is talking a bit about her historical romance novel The Twelfth Night Wager (a Christmas novella).

During this tour, Regan will be awarding a copy  of three (3) of her books Racing with the Wind, The Holly and the Thistle, and The Shamrock and the Rose to one (1) randomly drawn commenter. To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment below. And to increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit other tour stops and leave comments there, too.

As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law, and Regan realized it would be better to be a hammer than a nail. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Regan.
I’m glad to be here.

Please tell us about your newest release.
The Twelfth Night Wager is a novella that begins one October night as Christopher St. Ives, Lord Eustace is sitting at White’s club with his friend Lord Ormond having a brandy and discussing the leg-shackled state (Regency wording for marriage). With an ulterior motive in mind, Ormond challenges Eustace to a wager: to seduce, bed and walk away from a certain unnamed lady. The wager is entered in White’s betting book and all of London begins to speculate on just which woman the redheaded rake is after now. Little do they know it’s a comely young widow, Grace, Lady Leisterfield - a virtuous woman.

What inspired you to write this book?
Well the idea for the novella first came to me from my research into the betting habits of Regency men. I thought of the title initially as the name of a song: How to Handle a Woman. When my publisher suggested I make it a Christmas novella (my prior Christmas short story, The Holly & The Thistle has done well), the longer story became The Twelfth Night Wager. I was fascinated to learn that men in Regency England bet on anything and everything. So, why not a scandalous wager to seduce a virtuous woman?

Excerpt from The Twelfth Night Wager:
“Speak of the devil,” said Lady Claremont.

The five women looked toward the doorway that led to the smaller book room. There on the threshold stood Eustace, in a dark blue coat over a white shirt and buff-colored breeches. Grace thought him very dashing. When his eyes focused on her, followed by a warm smile, her heart skipped.

She thought she heard Priscilla Wentworth let out a sigh. Apparently Eustace had made another conquest. How tiring it must be for him, she thought to herself, all those ladies falling at his feet. But even to herself, that sounded like jealousy.

He strode to their table, stopping along the way to greet other guests playing cards. When finally he reached them, he wished the group of five women good-day.

“How’s the card game going, ladies?”

“It’s not whist,” said the countess, “but ’twill do as it’s loo.” She chuckled at her own rhyme, and the ivory feather above her silver locks flicked in jaunty fashion. Emily rolled her eyes.

Eustace chuckled, too. “You look well settled into the game.”

“Have you just come from the fox-hunt?” Grace asked.

“I have. But you can be thankful I first cleaned off the mud. It’s positively soggy out there. Still, it was worth it; Ormond, Alvanley and I had a good run through the woods.”

“It sounds delightful,” said Emily. “I love the sounds of the bugle and the hounds eager to give chase to the wily fox. Did you catch him?”

“Sadly, yes. The end of the chase is always so…final, and somehow disappointing.”

Eustace’s words drew her attention and she noticed his serious expression. She had the feeling he wasn’t talking only about fox-hunts.

What’s the next writing project?
The third novel in the Agents of the Crown trilogy, Wind Raven, is completed and on my editor’s desk; it should be out in early Spring. Currently, I’m writing a medieval, The Red Wolf’s Prize, set in England in 1068, two years after the Conquest. The hero, Renaud de Pierrepont is a Norman knight, one of King William’s favorites, to whom he has given the lands of a Saxon thane who was slain at the Battle of Hastings. The lands come with an English maiden, the Lady Serena, who hates the Normans for taking her country, her lands and her beloved father. She has no intention of being wed to a knight who may have killed the man she all but worshipped. Sir Renaud (aka “the Red Wolf,” so named for the wolf he killed with his bare hands), is a man shaped by his past who clings to a rigid set of rules (his men call him the “warrior priest”). Serena is a rebel who plans to escape. I’m having lots of fun with it.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
Surprisingly, the biggest challenge is not the beginning, as it is for some authors. That comes easily to me, as do the characters. No, it’s about half way in when I usually come to a “dry hole” and have to look for the new action scenes and the continuing conflict. (I’m a pantster, you see.) I am at the midway point now in The Red Wolf’s Prize and have found my salvation in the siege of Exeter that occurred in 1068 when King William had to draw upon his knights to deal with some rebellious English. Now I’m buried in siege research. (Got to get those battle scenes right!) Meanwhile the heroine is about to be abducted by a rival. (Are you biting your nails yet?)

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
Yes, yes, yes and yes. I begin by doing some fundamental research on the history of the period (even within the Regency each year had its issues and its happenings); then I research characters (many of mine are real historic figures) and places and food. I’m visual and I need to “see” what I’m describing. Some of my readers have remarked that the descriptions are so vivid they feel as if they are there. I work to make sure that is the case. Then as I begin to write, issues pop up nearly every day. Some require hours of research. I might even order a book I need (like I did on sieges for Red Wolf) when in the middle. Even after the novel is done, I can be sent down a rabbit trail of research. I remember one of my beta readers for Wind Raven (due out in early 2014) wanted me to add the hero’s seeing the rum bottles stacked up behind the bar in the prologue. I spent a whole day researching whether rum was in bottles in 1817, and finally decided it was too chancy, so I left the scene with just tankards stacked up. (Rum was usually in barrels or casks.)

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I have a wonderful room to write in and it has a view of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I live on a hill where I house share with friends, and my office looks west, towards the blue ocean. It’s my “den’ where I write. I have a large table with no drawers (I’d be worried I’d forget what is in there) with stacks of research, supplies and promotional material along with my Mac and my printer. And I have a bookcase with my reference books segregated by the book I’m writing or will be writing soon. It’s a wonderful workspace any author would love. I don’t often stare out the window, but when I do, I’m inspired.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
These days because of my active Regan’s Romance Reviews blog (, I mostly read Historical Romance—all subgenres save for fantasy and time travel. I have a list of favorite authors, of course, and those are seen on my blog. But the short list would be Virginia Henley, Heather Graham (aka Shannon Drake), Elizabeth Stuart, Marsha Canham, Shirlee Busbee, Kathleen Givens, Victoria Holt and Jennifer Blake in the classic authors category. In the newer authors category, it would be Joanna Bourne, Madeline Hunter, Kaki Warner and Amanda Hughes, among others.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
I love to hear from readers. When one heard that part of Wind Raven would be set in the waters off Puerto Rico, she suggested I locate a scene in one of the bioluminescent bays. As a result, she will get the book as my gift because I used her suggestion.

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!
Oh, thanks for having me back. It’s been a pleasure.