Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why Star Wars Means So Much

Unless you've been living under a rock, you might be aware that Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens this weekend. Everyone had a collective freak out when the trailers started airing, especially this one featuring a craggy, gray-haired Han Solo (or more accurately, a craggy, gray-haired Harrison Ford playing Han Solo) and Chewbaca and three words "Chewie...we're home."

I admit, I felt a stirring of excitement and nostalgia myself. I loved the original 3 movies (which were actually 4, 5 and 6 in chronological order) and completely skipped the later ones (1, 2 and 3). I got sick of the hype months before they were released, and nothing I heard about the movies after they came out gave me a desire to see them. I didn't want my memories of the great original movies sullied by a stupid, teenaged angst-fest.

I was 7 (or nearly 7) when I saw the "original" Star Wars in 1977. I went with my family. I think we had heard about the movie, but we didn't really know anything about it. We got to the movie theater late. In fact, we missed the first 20-30 minutes. So yeah, we were lost, but it didn't really matter. We were sucked in immediately. After the movie was over, we stayed in our seats to watch it again, specifically to catch the beginning.  We had never seen anything like Star Wars. (Obviously, no one had.) The flying space ships that seemed so real, the crazy alien beings in that bar, the music, the air battles, the spunky princess, the cute boy, the mystical guru guy, the funny guy hired to take them into space, the big hairy creature that roared, the beeping, shiny robots. I was pretty young, but I had no trouble following everything. It was story magic. Movie magic on a scale no one could imagine. You cared about those characters, and as the other two movies came out (Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi) you scared even more. You were truly stunned to know big, bad Darth Vader was Luke's father, and that Luke & Leia were brother and sister. (Come on, a lot of us secretly wanted them together in the first movie.) It was one of those "before and after" moments. "Before" Star Wars movies were one way. "After" Star Wars we realized movies could be something else entirely.

So I WILL go see The Force Awakens...I will hope that it will live up to the expectations of the FIRST three movies.
Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Launch Tomorrow - Left Turn At Paradise

TOMORROW, TOMORROW!! Tomorrow is the launch of my new women's fiction/romance, LEFT TURN AT PARADISE. It's also the launch of a new series set in Florida, the Shellwater Key Tales. So what is this story about? I know you're dying to find out!!! The series follows three childhood friends who all return to their hometown & become involved in reviving an old dinner theatre, The Paradise. 

Book one is Layla's story...Thought I'd introduce you to the cast.


Layla McCarthy - Driven businesswoman who was raised by her grandmother, after being abandoned by her mother. She's spent most of her life trying to outrun her mother's wild reputation. She loses her business due to an unscrupulous partner. When she finds out her great-aunt & grandmother have bought the old Paradise Dinner Theatre, she returns to her hometown to ensure her elderly relative don’t lose their life savings. Reviving the theatre also brings an unexpected romance with Grayson Kendall, the enigmatic director hired to produce the first show.

Grayson Kendall – Famed theatre director from Chicago. He’s come to Shellwater Key to visit his aunt & uncle (and hide out) after a headline-making divorce from his gorgeous celebrity wife. The last thing he expected was to rehab a broken down theatre in the middle of nowhere, but he can't resist Layla.

Dr. Barbara McCarthy – Layla’s grandmother and the first female surgeon in Florida. While she was busy breaking down barriers for women, she lost the one thing that should have mattered more…her daughter.

Grace-Anne Carter – Barbara McCarthy’s younger sister. Grace-Anne moved in with Barbara after both their husbands died and together they raised Layla. Grace-Anne decides to buy The Paradise as an ode to a long-lost love connected to the theatre.

Elizabeth (Beth) McCarthy – Layla’s mother who returns to Shellwater Key looking to make amends for her past after a terrible illness. Her return uncovers some dark truths surrounding Layla’s birth, including the role played by her beloved grandmother.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Author Spotlight - Tainted Dreams by Christi Corbett

I always love to help launch a new book and today I'm thrilled to welcome Christi Corbett as she celebrates the release of her new historical western romance, TAINTED DREAMS, a sequel to her award-winning novel, Along the Way Home.

They survived the Oregon Trail, but claiming a legacy would be their biggest challenge yet.

Sometimes, the end justifies the means…
Kate Davis arrived into Oregon City transformed from a pampered daughter of fortune into a determined woman with a plan--fulfill her father's dream of starting a horse ranch in Oregon Territory. She quickly discovers a harsh truth--even thousands of miles from home, on an unsettled land America doesn't yet own or govern, gender still takes precedence over ability. Refusing to be ruled once again by the stifling laws and societal norms she'd escaped by leaving Virginia, Kate begins creatively claiming what is rightfully hers. Until a visit to the land office changes everything.

Jake Fitzpatrick guided Kate across the Oregon Trail, and fell in love with her along the way. Now he wants to marry her and build a life together, but a ruthless man from Jake's past threatens to reveal a dark secret, and destroy everything he's worked so hard to achieve.

Excerpt: (Jake, Kate, and two people they rescued on the Oregon Trail, William and Margaret, have entered Oregon City. They are looking for the hotel.)

At the end of the block a man burst from the saloon and stumbled into the street, stopping mere inches from Jake's horse, Plug. Instead of backing away, the man lurched forward and reached for Jake's saddle horn.

RONE Award Winner
"Hey there!" Jake said. Raising his left leg, he ignored the resulting twinge of pain and shoved the stranger aside with his boot heel. "Watch it!"

The man drew back and stared at him, his eyes bloodshot and unfocused. He raised an unsteady finger, slurred an unintelligible response, and then fell face-­first into a patch of mud.

"Drunken fool," Jake muttered, then faced the others. "Let's keep moving."

High-­pitched squealing foiled his plan.

On the upper deck of the saloon a horde of harlots stood clustered together, giggling and shrieking as they pointed toward him. Clenching his jaw, he focused on the street ahead, all the while hoping Kate didn't notice one woman in particular who'd separated herself from the others and was now hanging over the railing, calling him by name.

Jake pressed his boot heels into Plug's side, urging him to a steady trot. Thankfully the others followed and they quickly left the saloon behind.

Minutes later, Kate motioned to the end of the street. "William, we're running out of road and I still don't see a hotel."

William pulled a rumpled paper from his pocket. He studied it briefly and then eyed the surrounding buildings. "My uncle sent me a rough sketch of where it's located, but there are so many new buildings, it's useless. Jake, do you know where it's at?"

Jake shook his head. "There wasn't a hotel the last time I was here."

"Perhaps one of those men sitting in front of the apothecary would know?" Margaret suggested.

"We'll find it ourselves," Jake replied. He led the group around the corner and onto the next street.
Buildings, so new their fresh pine scent still hung in the air, lined one side of the street while the other side held only two—an enormous livery and a two-­story building with the word Hotel prominently displayed on a white sign with black lettering. A matching sign beside a light-­rimmed window read Rooms Available by the Day or Week.

They dismounted, secured their horses to the empty hitching posts in front of the hotel, and headed for the door. William reached for the glass knob, then turned to the others with a worried frown.
"I haven't seen my uncle in over seven years, so I don't know what to expect. Though from what I've observed so far, living out west doesn't seem to improve manners." 

He stepped inside and ushered Margaret and Kate through the doorway. Jake followed them, then stopped cold.

Behind the hotel's front desk sat Theodore Martin—the one man Jake never wanted to see again as long as he lived.

Buy Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo  Smashwords

About the Author:

Christi Corbett, winner of the 2013 RONE Award for Best American Historical novel, lives in a small town in Oregon with her husband and their twin children. The home's location holds a special place in her writing life; it stands just six hundred feet from the original Applegate Trail and the view from her back door is a hill travelers looked upon years ago as they explored the Oregon Territory and beyond. 

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Author Spotlight - Holding Back by Helen Pollard

Today, I'm thrilled to host fellow Clean Reads (formally Astraea Press) author, Helen Pollard. We're talking about Helen's new contemporary romance, HOLDING BACK.

The last thing they're looking for is love …

Laura Matheson is a natural at avoiding romance, so when she is drawn to mystery guest Daniel Stone while helping out at her friends' hotel in Portugal, she assumes all she needs is a little extra willpower.

Daniel is at the hotel on business. The demands of work and a manipulative ex-girlfriend mean he doesn't have the time or energy for romance, but Laura is a distraction he finds hard to ignore.

As they negotiate a minefield of misunderstandings and mutual attraction, will they both continue to hold back? Or will they finally allow love into their lives?

Excerpt Chapter One:
"Excuse me. You've picked up the wrong bag."

Deep and decisive, the voice startled Laura from behind as she loaded her luggage onto her hard-won airport trolley.

"No, I don't think so." She swung round to confront the voice's owner. Unnerved to find him towering over her, she took a step back, stumbling over her trolley in the process.

With lightning speed, he reached out to catch her arm, his grip strong as he helped her regain her balance. When she was upright again, she took in piercing blue eyes, thick dark brown hair, a hint of stubble on a tanned face—and felt an immediate jolt of attraction.

Laura ignored it. "I can manage, thank you," she snapped, thinking she wouldn't have tripped if he hadn't surprised her like that.

He released his hold and raised an eyebrow. "As I said, you have my bag."

Pushing away long strands of chestnut-brown hair that had dared escape their ponytail, Laura returned his gaze.

"No, this is definitely mine." She was hot, harassed, and late. The last thing she needed was a futile argument over her own luggage!

"Would you mind if I check?"

"Help yourself." Unable to disguise her impatience, Laura waved at it, adding, "But I am in a hurry." She winced at the hostile tone in her voice, but she really didn't have time for this. Tapping her foot in irritation, she waited to be proved right as he crouched over her trolley.

"Would you care to look?" he asked.

Laura's foot stopped tapping. Recognizing undisguised triumph on his face, she read the label over his shoulder with trepidation, but there it was in black and white—Daniel Stone, London Gatwick to Porto. The heat that rose in her cheeks seemed to burn right through her skin.

"But it's the same as mine!" she blustered, watching with embarrassment as he hoisted the heavy bag from the trolley with ease.

"It's hardly a unique design," he commented, shrugging broad shoulders. "If you weren't in such a tearing hurry, you might have spotted your own on the carousel."

Laura spun around to see her bag riding forlornly around with the few that were left. Mortified, she opened her mouth to apologize.

But he spoke first. "Personally, I would advocate that old saying 'More haste, less speed.'" His tone softened a little as he added, "I'm sorry, but you're not the only hot, tired person whose flight was delayed, you know." And off he strolled through the terminal, his bag flung over his shoulder, without a backward glance.

About Helen:

Helen Pollard writes contemporary romance with old-fashioned heart. She believes there will always be a place for romantic fiction, no matter how fast-paced and cynical the world becomes. Readers still
want that feel-good factor – to escape from their own world for a while and see how a budding romance can blossom and overcome adversity to develop into love … and we all need a little love, right?

A Yorkshire lass, Helen is married, with two teenagers and a psychotic cat. When she's not working or writing, it goes without saying that she loves to read. She also enjoys a good coffee in a quiet bookshop, and appreciates the company of family and close friends.

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