Friday, September 28, 2012

Meet Author Debra Easterling

This week in the author spotlight, I am very pleased to welcome fellow Champagne Books author Debra Easterling.

1.Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m originally from Miami, Florida, spent most of my adult life in Minnesota, but now back in Orlando.   I’m the mother of eight, grandmother of 6-1/2, wife of 1.   My background is nursing, although I currently work as a legal assistant.  My dream is to win the lottery and settle down to a life of reading and writing.

2. Every author I’ve met has their own unique story of how they found their way into writing. What path led you to become an author?

I used to write long elaborate letters to my sisters.  They were silly and over embellished in such a way that my sisters saw writing potential.  One day, I was listening to my favorite singer on the radio and fantasized of singing a duet with him.  I tried to reason why this guy would ever want to sing with me, and that prompted me to build a scene around that duet in my mind.  With my sisters’ encouragement, I put that scene on paper.  The ripple effect grew into my first novel.  A sappy romance novel that I hope my beloved singer NEVER reads.  The result, however, is that I discovered writing is the one thing I loved and was good at.

3.  What aspect of the writing process to you enjoy the most? What part of the process do you dread?

I enjoy dreaming up the plots.  I love to brainstorm.  I also love the way my characters rewrite my plots as I go.  It’s like I’m the instrument my characters use to tell their stories.
I dread the query letters and summary/synopsis letters that must go to agents and publishers.

4.  Are you a plotter or a pantser in terms of your writing style? Describe your writing space.

I’m both.  As I said above, I do lay out a detailed plot.  Then as I write, I find sidelines to my main plot pop up all on their own and I create anew as I write.

5.  Which author has most influenced or inspired you?

Two separate issues.  I’m most influenced by Janet Evanovich for her humor.  Sharyn McCrumb and Karen White for their mystery styles.  I’m inspired by Mary Higgins Clark, for she also was a late bloomer in writing while dealing with a big family, yet she managed to build a literary empire.

6.  Of all of your published books, which one story or character is your favorite and why? (or, if this is your first book, what inspired your story?)

“Twenty Miles North of Lvov” is my only published book, although I’ve written six others.  My favorite characters in each of them are the side kicks.  The close friend, the body guard, the roommate.  They seem to get the best of my humor.  Now, “Twenty Miles North of Lvov” is a very serious and dark book, so Dr. Jankowski and Buck get to be the comic reliefs to break the tension.

7.  Would you tell us a little about your latest book?

In the midst of the turbulent 1960s, Moshe Brodsky, a renowned Nazi hunter, finds himself    on the outskirts of the Florida Everglades to hunt for Horst Bress, a man he believes is a war criminal when evidence mounts that Bress may be killing again. 

8.  What can readers expect in the coming months? What are you working on now?

“Twenty Miles North of Lvov” will be released as an ebook in October through Champagne    Books.   I’m in the process of querying a paranormal mystery/romance called “Thorns on Lovely Roses.”  I’m currently writing a Pygmalion type of novel set in post Civil War days.  I have a book full of plots just waiting for me to write.

9.  What interview question have you never been asked that you’re dying to answer? Answer it.

Why don’t you write detailed sex scenes?  My female characters are all very strong women.   Sex scenes tend to turn them into helpless forms of gelatin.  When I come across a sex scene in a book, I skip it.   I like to enjoy my own imagination about the love and tenderness.  For me, romance beats lust any time.

10.  Where can you be found on the web? (web site, blogs, social network links)

            Facebook Promo Page: 
            Twitter:                                   (In process)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Free Read Friday (a little late :)

            Beth Rutledge has turned fifty. The number doesn’t really bother her—but everything else seems to be disturbing. She is irritated by her husband, David, and his fastidious and predictable habits. She is missing a part of herself that seems to have gotten lost along the way. She is trying to integrate a new role that she will fill in a few months—becoming a grandmother for the first time. Beth has taken the day off from her interior decorating business, Beth, By Design, to enjoy her birthday. She plans to spend the day in the mountains, hiking and enjoying nature. Of course, it rains. When David suggests the rain will alter her plans, Beth becomes even more irritated. She is feeling rebellious and realizes she doesn’t have a rule about not walking in the rain—that’s David’s rule.
            Beth drives to the mountains, her favorite place to think. After her hike, as she makes her way to a diner on the highway to have lunch, she passes a For Rent sign in front of a rustic A-frame cabin that sits back from the road. On a whim, she backs up and stops to explore. She is drawn to the simplicity and charm of the place. She also feels a tug toward a place inside herself that she has not visited for quite some time. She jots down the phone number on the sign, not actually believing that she will make the call.
            Against her husband’s wishes, Beth appoints one of her employees as manager of her business, informs her children of her plans to move for a few months, packs up her cat and heads to the cabin an hour’s drive from the city.


My name is Beth Rutledge. Today is my birthday. I am fifty-one years old. I have a thriving interior decorating business, a son in college, a daughter who just made me a grandmother and a husband whom I love very much. My mother will tell you that I have been having a midlife crisis. My best friend will tell you that I am courageous. My husband will tell you that, on my last birthday and for just a little while, I lost my mind.
I will tell you this: Sometimes you have to lose something in order to reclaim it. Sometimes you have to trust the love that holds the seams of your life together and stretch it to a new limit. Sometimes you just have to lose your mind... and follow your heart.
Last year, on the morning of June 3, I got up at six-fifteen, as usual. I had mixed feelings about turning fifty— on one hand, it sounded so old and, on the other, it marked a milestone and sounded so free. I heard the shower and knew that my husband, David, was back from his run. He gets up, quietly, every morning at five-thirty and goes out for a run, returning at exactly five past six. He then turns on the coffeemaker and goes into the shower. I knew the time without even looking at the clock. He is that consistent and predictable. It was something I had loved about David and it made me feel safe and secure—usually. On this day, for some unknown reason, it was irritating the hell out of me.
I heard the water turn off and, within minutes, David emerged from the shower wrapped in his terry bathrobe, his matching slippers flopping across the floor.
He walked over to the bed where I had managed to raise myself into a sitting position, kissed my cheek—David hates kisses before we both have a chance to brush and rinse—and patted my back. “Happy birthday, hon. Why don’t you stay put and I’ll get your coffee?”
I leaned back against the pillows and looked out the window. It was beginning to rain. It figures, I take the day off and it rains. David came back into the bedroom carrying a tray bearing my favorite coffee mug, a cheese Danish and a single rose.
He placed the tray across my lap, asking, “So, what are you going to do today, since you took the day off? It looks like anything outdoors is out of the question.”
He then proceeded to get dressed, methodically pulling on his underwear, followed by his tee shirt, socks, dress shirt, pants, shoes, tie, and lastly, his suit coat. In twenty-six years of marriage, I had never seen him deviate from this routine.
“I don’t know. I was thinking of taking a drive to the mountains and going for a hike, but I guess not. Maybe I’ll see if there’s a good movie playing somewhere. You could take the day off and come play with me,” I said teasingly.
David smiled as he straightened his tie. “You know I can’t do that, but I promise I’ll be home by six and take you out for your birthday dinner—anywhere you want to go.”
I thought for a moment and then said offhandedly, “Okay, how about Paris?”
He laughed. “How about the new French restaurant downtown?”
I sighed, but not loudly enough so he could hear. “I’ll think about it. Thanks for the coffee and the rose. That was very thoughtful.”
I was disappointed he hadn’t planned something special for this—my fiftieth birthday. Maybe he did, and it’s a surprise? Yes, I was sure of it. He had planned a surprise party and everyone would be at the restaurant when we arrived, or he would find some excuse to turn around and come back to the house and all of my friends would be here to jump out and yell “Happy Birthday!”
He stood before the mirror and, satisfied he was properly put together, strode back to the bed, kissed my other cheek and said, “Have a nice day. See you tonight.”
I sat there polishing off the Danish and coffee and twirling the rose between my finger and thumb. The one thorn remaining on the stem gouged into my thumb and I dropped the rose to inspect the damage. For some reason, I was fascinated with my own blood as it bubbled out of the tiny piercing. It was red and warm and reminded me that I was alive. Funny how you can forget that or simply take it for granted.
That’s when it struck me—I had forgotten. I had been feeling insignificant, invisible. I was in a rut. I looked across the room and saw myself in the mirror on my dressing table. The woman in the mirror looked vaguely familiar—only vaguely. I had not given much thought to what it meant to turn fifty. I had kept myself busy enough to ignore midlife and the fuss other people made about it. Now, I realized that if this was midlife, I’d have to live to be a hundred and, in my family, the chances of that were slim! I felt a panic rising in me and swallowed hard. Where had my life gone?
I sucked the blood off my thumb, put the tray aside and jumped out of bed, intending to shower. I walked into the bathroom and looked at myself more closely in the full-length mirror—not bad for an old broad. I looked closer to forty than fifty—didn’t I? I decided to throw all caution to the wind and pass on the shower, dampening my short hair and combing it down. I trembled with excitement at how daring I was, and then thought it was sad that simply choosing not to shower for one morning made me daring. I was sadly in need of adventure.
I pulled on jeans and a tee shirt and grabbed one of David’s denim shirts and my hiking boots. If I left right away, I could get to the mountain within the hour and have the day to hike, still getting home in time to shower and dress for dinner.
I started to reach for my camera, but thought there was no point in taking a camera when it was raining. As I opened the door, I stopped and turned back for the camera—who made up the rule that you can’t take pictures in the rain? Probably the same person who decided you couldn’t go hiking in the rain. My heart raced as I pulled my Nissan out of the garage and headed south, wishing I were driving a Jeep or some type of SUV—a driving-in-the-mountains kind of car.
I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and got two chocolate donuts and another cup of coffee. What the hell, why not pull out all the stops? I’m only going to turn fifty once. I started to call David at his office to tell him where I was going and then decided I didn’t want to.
My cell phone rang as I was pulling back onto the highway. It was our daughter, Deana, calling from Seattle to wish me a happy birthday.
“Hi, honey, how are you feeling?”
“I’m fine, Mom, just getting fat. I can still see my feet, but I guess that won’t last for long.”
I laughed, remembering when I was pregnant with her. I ballooned up so fast, I thought I was going to have twins.
“Well, just remember, in a few months you’ll have a beautiful son or daughter to show for all of this.”
“Yes, and you’ll be a grandmother. Are you ready for that, Mom? Oh, yeah, happy fiftieth birthday! Rob sends his love, too.”
“Thanks, honey. And thanks for reminding me I’ll be a grandmother. Your dad and I can’t wait to spoil our first grandchild; don’t you worry. I just wish I could be there with you. Are you sure you don’t want me to fly out before the baby comes?”
“Mom, we discussed this. I will be fine, really. Besides, Eleanor is just in San Francisco and I’m sure she’ll be here—whether we want her to be or not. I’d rather have you come out after I’m home and we can enjoy a visit. Maybe for Thanksgiving?”
“I’m going to hold you to that. As for Eleanor, I’m glad she’s near enough to come and be with you. I don’t think you have any idea how this is going to change life for both you and Rob. Thanks for calling, honey. I’m in traffic, so how about if I call you in a day or two. Then your dad can talk, too.”
“Sure, Mom. Have a great day and enjoy whatever dad has planned for you tonight.”
“I will, honey. You give my love to Rob and pat the baby for me.”
It was still hard for me to imagine my little girl having her own baby. Well, she is twenty-four, but she’s still my little girl. I knew I would have to fight the urge to jump on a plane and go there to hold her hand, but I had to respect her wishes. This was something she and Rob would do on their own. Rob’s family lived in California and his mother would be there for the birth and to help for that first week or two. Eleanor was a wonderful person and treated Deana like a daughter, but I admit I was jealous.
It took me longer than usual to get up the mountain. The rain had picked up as I was leaving the house, but had settled into a soft drizzle by the time I reached the summit. I parked and stepped out of the car to check the temperature. It was June, but it had been unseasonably cool. I stood for a moment and felt the slight breeze ruffle my hair. I tossed David’s shirt back into the car, picked up the camera and headed for the trail.
The clouds were spectacular and the trees along the trail shielded me from most of the rain. By noon, the humid air started to get sticky and bugs were everywhere. The rain ended and the sun struggled to break through the clouds. I thought that there must be a rainbow—somewhere. I waved the bugs away as I climbed the trail, high above the river, my boots squishing loudly in the soft earth. I could hear the breeze ruffle leaves, the crunch of twigs beneath my boots and the occasional rustle of a chipmunk rummaging through the undergrowth. This place had its usual effect on me—I felt alive. As I walked, I recalled the many times I’d come here, either alone or with David or Lydia, my best friend. This was the place I would come to for spiritual renewal, the place where it seemed nothing existed beyond myself and nature. I remembered walking these woods after David had proposed and again when I was trying to decide about opening my interior design business. The quiet made it possible to think clearly and to connect to what my heart was saying. I stopped walking, found a downed tree trunk to sit on, and listened. My heart didn’t feel fifty. When I thought about being fifty, something quaked inside of me. I wasn’t ready for this. I wasn’t ready to pass into the next stage of life.
The quiet was soon interrupted by the growling of my stomach and I headed back to the car. I would drive to the diner out by the highway and get some lunch. I glanced at my watch, reminding myself I needed to keep track of my time.
I almost missed the sign, but it seemed to wave to me from the overgrown lawn: For Rent. I slowed and pulled over and, seeing there were no cars coming behind me, backed up and looked. There was the ‘For Rent’ sign and sitting back off the road was an A-frame cabin. A rutted, dirt drive led up to the front. I was afraid the Nissan would get stuck, so I pulled as far as I could onto the shoulder and walked up the drive. The steps felt solid as I went up onto the porch, peering into one of the front windows. There were some furnishings, but the cabin appeared to be uninhabited. There was one large room inside with a circular, hooded fireplace in the center and a small dining table off to one side, by the windows. Beyond that was a small kitchen and it looked as though there was another room off to the other side. I looked up and saw a loft and doors, probably leading to bedrooms. The deck encircled one entire side of the cabin, so I walked around to the back to look in the kitchen window. The place needed a good cleaning, but looked as though it had been a very cozy hideaway at one time. It probably could be again.
I tried the door, but it was locked. I looked around. The lot was a nice size and there were trees everywhere. Whoever built the place had deliberately kept as many trees as possible. There was a small shed in the back and the door stood open, revealing an old lawnmower and a few gardening tools.
As I walked back to the car, I felt myself being drawn to this place. I could envision myself here—in another life. I could see myself in jeans and a flannel shirt, stoking a fire in the fireplace and then sitting down to read a novel, my cat, Gizmo, crawling under the book to curl up in my lap. I would paint again, letting nature serve as my muse. I wanted to live here—just me and Gizmo—and to live simply, with no frills, no expectations, and no rules.
I decided to play with this fantasy for a while and, as I got to the car, took out a notepad and jotted down the phone number. It was fun to at least think that I might call. I took one last look and then pulled back onto the road and headed for the diner. Lunch would have to be quick if I was going to get home and dressed in time to go out with David.
I ordered a chicken salad and sat toying with the phone number I had jotted down, all the while sipping on a chocolate shake. Without a second thought, I reached into my hip pack for my cell phone and dialed the number.
“Hi. I’m calling about the cabin for rent on Forest Lake Road. I just drove by and saw it and was calling to ask...” My voice trailed off as I wondered what I was doing.
The woman on the other end of the line picked up, “I’m asking $75.00 for a weekend and $200 for a week—Sunday to Saturday. My husband and I used to go up there on weekends, but he died a few months ago and I just don’t have the heart to go there anymore. One of the grandkids might want it some day, so I don’t want to sell, but someone should be living in it.”
“I’m sorry about your husband,” I said sympathetically. “Is there any way I can take a look inside? I’m just up here for the day... just a few more hours actually.”
“Well, I can’t get there right now, but my brother lives two houses down and he’s got a key—name’s Burkett, Phil Burkett and the number’s on the mailbox, number 1620. If you want to go there, I’ll call and tell him you’re coming by. My name’s Alice Stanford,” the woman told me.
I hesitated, thinking this was nuts, but then heard myself saying, “Tell him I’ll be there in fifteen minutes…”

Available at Wings ePress, and B&

Friday, September 14, 2012

Author January Bain is in the Spotlight

I'm pleased to welcome author January Bain in to the Author Spotlight for this week. And she has a new book out next month! Read on to learn more.

1.      Please tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks for having me today, Linda! I really appreciate the opportunity to share a little something about myself with readers and writers alike.

I live in a small town prairie town in Canada with less than 700 residents. My husband and I teach at the local high school ten months of the year and I try to write each and every day in the early mornings or after school. My students find it inspiring (I think!) that I write and I promote their efforts through, Storytellers, a noon hour club I run. Working with teenagers is truly great!

2.      Every author I’ve met has their own unique story of how they found their way into writing. What path led you to become an author?

I wanted to live another life at first, I think and to escape a difficult time in my life. Two of my brothers had died of cancer within a very short time frame and I needed something. I realize now why I chose my first heroine, Ellie Hightower, because she was a true healer and I coveted her gift. I think writing from the heart comes across in your storytelling and connects you tighter with your readers.

3.      What aspect of the writing process to you enjoy the most? What part of the process do you dread?

The first initial idea is pretty darn exciting, I guess, because you know you are avoiding the dreaded writer’s block. I don’t really dread any part as it’s all needed to make the book the best it can be.

4.      Are you a plotter or a pantser in terms of your writing style? Describe your writing space.

More of a pantser! The story unfolds like a movie in my head in proper sequence. I’m a real movie buff so I guess it makes sense that I see my stories that way.

5.      Which author has most influenced or inspired you?

Stephen King for sure. Salem Falls was a first read by him that blew me away.

6.      Of all of your published books, which one story or character is your favorite and why?

Ah, that’s a question for ya’. Ellie Hightower, my first and the gifted healer of the bunch is wonderful, but so is Winter Kennedy the nurse dying of ALS and courageous enough to want to be a vampire, as is Sunday Rose St. Claire who is spunky as all get out and carrying a Dhampyre child,  and I absolutely adore, … I guess all of them!

7.      Would you tell us a little about your latest book?

Forever Man, the first in the Forever Series is very dear to my heart. What if you had been given the gift of healing and could save those you loved? And furthermore, discovered you could save the one you love from a vampire’s kiss. There is a catch; of course, the cost of such a healing could mean your own death…
Ellie Hightower is discovering such gifts in the novel, Forever Man by January Bain (me!) She is telepathic, young and bright and has been running from these new found gifts all the way to Nome, Alaska where she encounters the man of her dreams, Mike Stone and an ancient evil force out to take him away from her. Will having goodness and light on her side be enough to save them from Katrianna, a newly resurrected vampire that looks to enslave Mike in her nefarious web?
To find out the truth you will need to read, Forever Man, the first in the Forever Series.

(Available in both eBook and Trade Paperback)

8.      What can readers expect in the coming months? What are you working on now?

The next two books in the Forever Series are being released: Forever Woman in October 2012 and Forever Clan in January 2013, both from Champagne Books. Thanks, Ellen and Judy!

Coming in October, 2012

9.      What interview question have you never been asked that you’re dying to answer? Answer it.

Why do you have to write so-o much? Because it keeps me sane, I hope!

10.  Where can you be found on the web? (website, blogs, social network links

January Bain
Write from the Heart
Forever Man
Forever Woman
Forever Clan

January Bain hails from Ashern, Manitoba, Canada. Married to the love of her life, her husband Don, she has combined her love of romance with her interest in the paranormal and vampires to produce the FOREVER SERIES of books. She teaches English and Computer courses during the day, and writes at night and in very spare moment she has. She hopes to touch your heart with this first book in the Forever Series, Forever Man, and would very much enjoy hearing from readers and writers alike.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Help Support Alzheimer's Research

The Promise Tree is not only a story of second-chance romance, but also deals with the impact of Alzheimer's on one family. September is World Alzheimer's Month. So I'm asking you to help me support Alzheimer's research. How? It's easy. Just purchase a copy of The Promise Tree (available at Wings ePress, and B& and email me with your proof of purchase. For every proof of purchase of The Promise Tree received in the month of September, I will donate $1.00 to Alzheimer's research.


Trudi McNeil Sheppard and Wynn Colton have a history that reaches back into their childhood. They were playmates, then dating teens who became lovers until they went their separate ways for college. Thirty years later Trudi and Wynn meet again when Trudi returns to care for her mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. Wynn has come home to prepare his father’s farm for sale. The attraction between them quickly rekindles.


            As she cruised down the main street, her mother’s ability to name every store that used to be there and the names of the owners amazed her, when only that morning Mary couldn’t remember she’d eaten her breakfast. There seemed no rhyme or reason to what information was retained and what was lost, but Trudi saw a pattern of short-term loss and long-term retention.
            “This town is almost dead now, just like me,” her mother murmured.
            “You’re far from dead, Mom. Don’t talk like that.”
            “It’s true. I don’t do anything. I rarely go anywhere. I forget where I put things.”
            Trudi slid a glance to her mother. “You know you’re forgetting?”
            Her mother nodded slowly. “I know. Doc Hudson says I have dementia.” After a long pause, her mother said, “I can’t stay by myself now, can I?”
            Trudi pulled the car to the curb and shifted into park. She turned to face her mother.         “Mom?” She studied the lined face and the cloudy blue eyes.
            “Sometimes I know.” Mary gazed out at the boarded up windows. “It’s frightening to watch things die. I’ll go into a home before I’ll put you through this.”
            A sob ripped from Trudi, and she covered her mouth with her fingers. “Oh, Mom. I can’t. I’ll get a job here somewhere and move in with you.”
            Her mother reached over and squeezed her hand. “You can’t fix this, honey. I’m better at this time of day, but then everything gets… hazy. We should make the most of this time. Let’s go to the cemetery and visit your father’s grave. I’d like to get some flowers to take there, too.”
            But Trudi sat, motionless. She was stunned by the clarity and afraid to move for fear the movement would shift everything. She wanted to remain rooted in this moment.
            Her mother faced her again. “Trudi, tell me about Savannah and Kira.”
            “Let’s pick up ice cream and go home. I found the photos I’d sent you. We’ll look at them together. I promise we’ll take flowers to the cemetery tomorrow.” She swiped at tears that blurred her vision. She fought the urge to speed back to the house and try to beat the darkness that would soon enough cloud her mother’s eyes and mind.
            She stopped only briefly at the Dairy Queen drive-thru for sundaes. Sitting at the kitchen table, the two women laughed over pictures of Savannah and Kira when they were little. Oooh’d and aaah’d at photos from Vannie’s wedding.
            Finally, her mother looked up. “I wish they were here. Now. I wish I could see them again while I still remember.”
            “I know both girls would love to hear from you. Let’s call them.” She dialed Savannah’s number and handed the phone over to her mother. Once she was certain the conversation was on track, she slipped into the living room to give her mother privacy. The mixture of joy at the gift of this time and sadness of the knowledge that it would all too soon end brought fresh tears. Her mother’s lilting laughter made her smile, though.
            When she heard the conversation end, she returned to the kitchen. “Want me to get Kira on the phone now?”
            Her mother sat with her hands in her lap. “I forgot who I was talking with. I… I need to rest.”
            But her mother had begun to fade, to slide into that fog that consumed her. Trudi watched as Mary headed for the stairs, paused and turned down the hall to the den where she now slept. The door closed quietly behind her.
            Trudi sat at the table, her fingers brushing through the photographs, until she could no longer hold in the pain of loss. Her shoulders shook as she cried out her grief.