Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's Release Day and HOME is HERE!

YEE HAW! I am THRILLED beyond words to be a part of Calisa Rhose's blog tour for her release of HOME, and even happier still that I am lucky enough to have her on RELEASE DAY! ('s also her 27th birthday, so double congrats are in order...) Calisa is also hosting a give away, so don't forget to leave us a comment to be entered into the draw for a FREE e-copy of HOME! Without further ado, I give you my very dear friend and talented writer, Calisa Rhose!

Wow! I am SO, so excited to be back at Tattered Pages to celebrate the long awaited release of my own book! Thank you my lovely AJ, for having me here on this historical day! (Get it? HOME is a historical?)

I’m at two places today to celebrate the actual release of my first book!!! Leave a comment here and then hop over to Vintage Vonnie’s and comment there for another chance to win your copy of HOME! On all the blogs I guest on this week I’m counting down to the BIG party so I can announce the first winner!

So let’s get on with this countdown!!!!


What could a gypsy and a Vietnam veteran have in common?
Silvertown’s outcast, Poppy Tippen, has loved football hero Sam “The Force” Callahan forever. But he never seemed to know she was alive. Now he’s home from the war and she suddenly finds herself comforting him from the demons of “that damn war.” Is his attention merely an escape from the haunting nightmares? Or does she hold the interest of the only man she’s ever truly loved?

Sam Callahan’s only solace from the war nightmares wrecking his life comes in the unlikely form of a gypsy girl with stigmas of her own. He’s known Poppy his entire life, but there’s something different about her now. Something special he desperately wants to hold on to. Can he convince her she’s the only thing he needs to put the past behind him?

“I’ll always want you, Poppy.”

Her head shook in automatic denial. “You’ll want a girl who fits your life. Not some gypsy with no family lineage to brag about. Your momma won’t accept that, either. She’ll make you choose someone like Connie, someone who fits into your world. Not the girl everyone avoids and whispers about behind her back. You’re gonna be the town’s doctor. You need an uppity wife who will make you proud.”

When Sam laughed, his chest shuddered against her back. Deep, husky, real. He turned her in his arms and looked down at her, smiling. “Poppy, do you honestly think I give a damn what people think? Look at me! I’m the town outcast, the survivor who should have died saving the others, not be here planning a future that includes a wife, a medical practice.

“I shimmy under park benches, run from my mother’s lipstick, for God’s sake. I wake up screaming and crying over nothing in the middle of the night, crawl under my bed and hide, shaking, until morning. Hell, I can’t even be a doctor because I haven’t finished school yet.”

“I didn’t know. It must be awful for you.” No matter how it hurt Poppy to know he used her, it felt much worse to know how he hurt alone. “The only time it isn’t awful is when I’m with you. When I think of you.”

Get your copy of HOME TODAY at The Wild Rose Press.

Find Calisa at her website/blog
On twitter @Calisa_Rhose and Facebook @Calisa Rhose
She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at

The day following the New Years Day party, on my blog, I will be giving away the first copy of HOME to one lucky commenter! The more you comment this week, the greater your chance to win!

To be entered for one more chance, tell me what “HOME” means to you in a comment.
Don’t forget to leave your EMAIL ADDRESS in all your comments this week! Be sure to come to my BIG SALE PARTY on my blog on January 1, 2012!

You can find the full tour schedule on my website at the link above.

Thank you so much for being my guest, Calisa! All the best to you on your release and I'm lifting my glass in honor of your first release!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Stockings Were Hung...

Debra St. John joins us at Tattered Pages today, with a Christmas post that will leave you all warm and fuzzy inside. She's also offering up a free .pdf of her latest Christmas story, A Christmas to Remember, so be sure and leave a comment to be entered into the draw! Take it away Debra!

It’s hard to believe Christmas is less than a week away. I think for the most part I have everything in order. The stockings are hung (on the closet doors since we don’t have a fireplace), the cookies are baked, the shopping is done (well, I might run out for one more thing later today), most of the wrapping is done (presents are under the tree), and school is done for the year.
Now comes the best part of the season. Sitting back from all of the hustle and bustle and just enjoying time with family and friends. Mom and Dad are back in town from their Florida winter abode, and we’ll see them at the end of the week. Over the weekend we attended the annual Christmas party of friends down the street. Christmas cards arrive by the handful everyday in the mail, bringing news of friends and relatives who are right here town, miles away, or halfway across the country.
Saturday morning we woke up to a light snowfall. Not enough to make things difficult, but enough to put some snow on the ground and bring visions of a White Christmas into our heads.
In the week ahead I have plans to catch up with some friends: lunch dates, movies, or just hanging out. Maybe one night the hubby and I will take a drive (or bundle up and make it a walk) around the neighborhood to look at the lights. We’ll also cuddle up and watch It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas in Connecticut at some point. The lights from the tree will twinkle merrily in the corner of the room, while the shadows of candle flames will flicker on the walls, surrounding us with the glow and scent of Christmas.
It sounds busy, but these are the fun things. And there’s no schedule for them. Things can happen as they will or as we have an interest. For the next week, I don’t have to be anywhere or do anything at any certain time. Ahhhhh.
I plan on spending a lot of time curled up on the couch with a steaming mug of peppermint tea, a cozy blanket, and a good book (or several).
I’ve always loved Christmas stories, and this year I have one of my own out: A Christmas to Remember. For me it brought to the page the joy and wonder of this most magical of seasons. It has a cozy ski lodge, a sleigh ride, snow angels, and of course, kisses under the mistletoe!
Here’s an excerpt:
Sam's gaze drifted up, and his lips quirked.
“Well, this may help my cause.”
Her glance rose to the mistletoe dangling over their heads, darted to his, then briefly down to his lips, before meeting his again.
When his lingered on her mouth, a tiny hitch tightened her stomach.“So, why do people kiss under the mistletoe?” he asked softly, his voice as mesmerizing as his eyes.
“I-I don’t know.” Her words were as breathy as they had been up on the mountain earlier. This time she couldn’t blame the altitude.
Sam tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Something to do with Celtic tradition, isn’t it?”
A shiver slithered down Heather’s spine. “Maybe.”
She’d be hard pressed to come up with her own name right now, let alone the ancient history of some plant.
“It’s a nice tradition, don’t you think?” His thumb brushed her cheek.
Her lips parted.
“Did I ever mention I’m a very traditional guy?”
She shook her head. A wave of dizziness washed over her as he leaned closer. Her surroundings
blurred, until her vision narrowed to only his rugged features drawing nearer to her in excruciatingly
slow degrees.
His mouth finally closed over hers as his hand splayed across her back to draw her to him.

A Christmas to Remember from The Wild Rose Press.
by Debra St. John
Newly single, Heather Morgan gathers her courage and decides to take a Christmas ski vacation on her own. However, the festive holiday atmosphere reminds her how dispirited and alone she feels. When she meets a mysterious stranger, her lonely vacation takes an unexpected turn.
Sam is at the resort at the urging of his brother, who thinks he needs to get out and have a little fun. Having no desire to get involved with anyone, Sam needs a way to get his brother off his back. The intriguing Heather seems like the perfect solution to his dilemma, so he makes her an offer she can't refuse.
Sam restores the joy of the season to Heather. Their time together is magical, something she'll never forget. Soon her feelings for him deepen beyond their romantic holiday fling. But Sam has a secret, one that could prevent the fantasy from ever becoming real.
Thanks AJ for having me here today. Merry Christmas to all! (Readers who leave a comment will have the chance to win an early Christmas present: a PDF of A Christmas to Remember, so be sure to leave your contact information!)

Thanks for stopping by, Debra! It's been a real treat having you here! Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

What's In A Name?

It's my pleasure to introduce Katherine Grey at Tattered Pages today, who brings with us a great post about naming characters. Take it away, Katherine!

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  A college professor once explained this line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as meaning names do not matter.  The line was spoken by Juliet in reference to the Montague name as a way to imply that his name meant nothing or was of no importance.  I’m not sure I agree with my former professor when it comes to the names of characters.

For me, main characters, and definitely in the case of the hero and heroine, have to have names that fit.  The names define them in a manner of speaking.  For example, an alpha hero just doesn’t seem very alpha if his first name is Bernie.  (No offense to any Bernies out there.)

At times a character will come to me with their name already intact.  This was the case of the heroine in my current work in progress (WIP).  She came to me fully formed with her back story, her conflict, and most importantly (to me) her name – Olivia St. Germaine.  Other times, characters will come with everything but their name and I give them one.  Some times as soon as I say it aloud, it seems to fit and the character will smile at me and nod in agreement.  Then there are the times when the character will back away, making the sign of the cross with their fingers at the sound of the name I’ve given them.

There are times where the name I’ve given them just doesn’t fit after I’ve started writing about them and I struggle to keep the name I gave them.  Some characters tell me, “Stop calling me that, damn it.  My name is…” which makes things easier.  And then some characters go through a process of different names with their names changing the way a teenager changes clothes until we both get tired or the name finally seems to fit.

A secondary character in my current WIP started out as John.  Four name changes later, I learned his name is David.  The “Find and Replace” feature in my word processing program got a work out as I kept having to find and replace his old name with each successive new one.  Finally David is happy and has become much easier to write.

So Mr. Shakespeare, with all due respect, I have to say, “A rose by any other name may still be a rose,” (I’m paraphrasing here, badly) but a character by any other name can be a completely different person.

Check out Katherine Grey's latest release IMPETUOUS, available now at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble!

Mateo de Montayas, an impoverished Spanish count, comes to England to recover a stolen family heirloom and to satisfy his hunger for revenge against the man who destroyed his family. Arriving in London, he learns his hated enemy died three years before but has left behind a daughter. What better way to retrieve the heirloom and exact revenge than to use her to his advantage?
Teresa Darlington will do anything to keep scandal away from her frail mother and prove her father wasn't a thief, even risk her reputation in a race to find the missing heirloom before the Count does. But she didn't count on falling in love with the man determined to ruin her family. Can she find the heirloom before he does and protect her family, or will her heart lead her in a different direction?

Teresa cast a furtive glance around the darkened garden. Now that it was time to put her
plan into action, she wished she were any place but here. Had she finally allowed her impulsive nature get her into something she couldn’t get out of? 

Determined to silence the fears clamoring within her, Teresa forced herself to go over all
Freddie had taught her in the last week. She checked her pocket for the stub of candle she
grabbed earlier. 

With one last prayer, she hoisted herself up and through the window. A surge of adrenaline flowed through her as she realized she was in one of the two libraries the Marquess of Kingsbury kept well maintained. Elated that her memory had served her correctly, she wandered around the room, her hand trailing over the many bookshelves. If she could remember the layout of each townhouse on her list as well as she did this one, getting in and out of the houses would be one less worry.

Her hand on the doorknob, she took one last look at the window. Once she left this room, escaping without detection became even more dangerous. The handle turned beneath her hand. Stifling a startled cry, she backed away from the door. Hide! her terrified mind screamed. She raced toward the window.

As freedom loomed in front of her, a hand clamped around her arm and dragged her back.
“What the hell are you doing here?”

Her body went limp with relief as Montayas’ deep tones filled the room. Yanking her arm free
with a nonchalance she didn’t feel, she moved closer to the window. “I’m trying to protect my father’s reputation just as you are here trying to ruin it.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play the fool with me. I know you’re searching for the Pequena. How can you threaten to
expose my father as a thief when your property isn’t even in his family’s possession?”

Montayas glanced toward the door. “Be quiet.”

“You’ll not silence me. I want the answers I should have demanded when you first voiced your
ludicrous accusations.”

He clamped his hand over her mouth.  “Someone’s coming,” he whispered, pulling her into
the shadows of the heavy brocade curtains. He glanced out the window and then back at the door.

Voices. Teresa heard them now. Still indistinct but louder.

Montayas gave her a warning look then removed his hand from her lips and positioned her in front of the window.

She struggled against his grasp. “What are you doing?” she whispered.

With one quick shove, he pushed her through the opening.

Barely suppressing a scream, Teresa fell through the air and landed on her knees with a soft
thud. The short fall stole her breath. Thankfully, the thick grass of the formal garden had acted as a cushion.

Seconds later, the count joined her on the lawn. He grabbed her hand and ran toward a small copse of trees. In the leafy shadows, he turned to face her. “Are you trying to get me killed?”

“Me?” she shrieked. “I didn’t just push you out a window.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

12 Days of Christmas with Vonnie Davis!!

For those of you who haven't been lucky enough to yet meet Vonnie, she is one of those people who never fails to make me smile. I am lucky beyond measure to count her among my peers, and am delighted to bring you her version of the 12 days of Christmas. OH! And for one lucky commentor, Vonnie will graciously award a copy of her latest, Storm's Interlude, so be sure to leave me your name and email below!  

AJ, my friend, thank you for having me as a guest today. I have to tell you, every time I stop by to see what one of your many guests has to say, I read the paragraph at the top of your blog. It’s very empowering—and I’m all for empowering women.

Because we have twelve days remaining until the big day when the packages we’ve carefully wrapped and hidden are torn into, I thought I would share with your readers my version of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Yes, AJ, I’m aware that traditionally the song begins on Christmas Day and continues. But those of you who know me know I do things my own way. It’s a bad habit I just can’t seem to break. So my version, boring though it may be, begins the twelve days before and not after.
On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me

Twelve eggs a whisking,

Eleven balls a-bouncing,

 Ten oranges growing,

Nine…Nine…Mine…sorry, but I’m drooling,

Eight ounces wine for cooling,
Seven cookies stacking,

 Six tiny chest hairs,

 Five fans to cool me,

 Four candy canes,

Three naughty wishes,

Two kitties snuggling,

 And a partridge in a pear tree!

Never let it be said that I don’t know how to put you in the holiday mood. The heroine of my debut book, Storm’s Interlude, knows how to get Storm in the mood, too. Even when Rachel, a nurse, is unaware she’s doing it. I’d like to share part of a scene with you.

Show me where your headache hurts, Storm. I’ll see if I can help.”
He sat and then pointed to the areas of pain with his index finger. “Up the back of my neck into my head. Around my head. Behind my eyes.” He’d long since associated his heartburn to stress, now he was wondering if the headaches came from the same source, too.
She started massaging, using her trained thumbs at pressure points. “You get these often?”
“Yeah. Anytime I’m stuck in front of that computer for hours.” Or when I think about marrying Pilar. He blinked several times at that personal revelation. Why hadn’t he made that connection before?
“Maybe you need glasses.” She slowly worked her fingers up and down his neck and then across his shoulders, pressing in hard with her thumbs and gently rippling with her fingers. “You’ve got knots of tension back here. Big knots.”
She leaned over him and dug her elbow into his shoulder. He didn’t know which felt better: her massaging or her breasts pressed against his back. Scents of her perfume wafted in the air, luring and beguiling like a floral siren. Her breathing had quickened in his ear as she ministered to him. His had quickened in like manner. Every one of his senses homed in on Rachel. She was consuming him.
“My God,” he moaned.
“I know I’m being rough, but this is the best way to get these subscapulari muscles to relax. Your trapezes are so tight, too. Goodness.”
Her voice was deep and breathless with exertion, which only fueled his arousal. He closed his eyes. While her massaging and pounding of his muscles sent chills up and down his spine, the smell of her perfume, the sound of her voice, the feel of her breathing against his neck and his ear was inflaming his manhood to near madness. The warmth of her sensual touch was killing him. If he lived through this, he was heading for a cold shower. Hell, a dozen cold showers couldn’t undo the effect she was having on him.
“Tilt your head forward, Storm. I’ve never seen anyone so tense. Even your rhomboids are knotted.” She pressed against him more, rotating her elbow into his knotted muscles. “It’s almost as if the harder I massage, the tighter your knots get.”
No fake! His whole body was a mass of sexual knots. He glanced over his shoulder, taking in her determined expression, her teeth gritted as she pounded and elbowed his muscles into submission. She was clearly in nursing mode, clueless as to what she was doing to his libido.
She leaned forward and increased her pressure on his shoulder. “Can’,” she grunted.
“Maybe...maybe if I try from the front.” She hurried around the sofa. To his utter amazement, she crawled onto the sofa, straddling her knees on either side of his lap. “Lean down and put your head against my chest. Let me attack those knotted subs and traps from this angle.”
If she wasn’t the cutest thing, hell-bent on ridding him of his headache. If he leaned his head between her breasts, he’d be a goner. No male, unless he was six feet under and been there for twenty years, could take this.
“Come on, lean against me. Wish I had one of my wooden rollers to run over your muscles. Maybe I should go upstairs and get one.”
She finally stopped talking and peered into his eyes. He watched her slowly shift from nurse to woman. Saw her blink as awareness surfaced. Her blue eyes, wide with shock, shifted to his mouth. “I...ah...should...get off your lap.”
He placed his hands at her waist and shook his head. “No, you’re fine.” He slowly ran his hands up her back and sighed a kiss to her neck. She shuddered when his warm breath caressed her skin.
“This isn’t a good idea. I…I should move.”
“Stay...stay.” Storm’s hands sifted through her long hair. “Silk and curls. I’ve thought of running my hands through your beautiful hair.” She pulled back, her eyes searching his face, her lips parted. “I keep thinking of kissing you again.” His hands clenched in her hair and ever so slowly, he brought her face toward his. “Come here, mouse.”
His lips massaged hers, touching and sipping until a sigh escaped her lips. “You’ve been driving me crazy,” he groaned the words against her lips before he captured them, pouring all his desire and needs into the kiss.
She ran her hands up his chest, around his neck and into his hair. When she moaned, he pressed her closer. He’d meant only to kiss her one time, to taste her lips once more, but that objective was gone. Now he needed more, sought more and, by damn, would have more.

I’m giving away a free eCopy of Storm’s Interlude to one lucky commenter today!!! Everyone have a Merry Christmas season.

Buy Links are:
The Wild Rose Press –

Whew! Thanks, Vonnie, for that most excellent post! I'm off now to get some Christmas cheer of my own! *eyebrow waggle*

Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Interview with Novelist Georgie Lee!

A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.
Her traditional Regency, Lady’s Wager and her contemporary novella Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood is currently available from Avalon Books. Look for her ancient Roman novella from Carina Press and her novel of love in the golden age of Hollywood from Avalon Books in 2012.
When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit for more information about Georgie and her novels.

I'm so happy to have you at Tattered Pages today, Georgie! Tell us how your writing career began.
I started out writing marketing videos and public service announcements for a small cable TV station in San Diego. I’d always dreamed of being a screenwriter so I moved to Los Angeles and earned my MA in screenwriting. I never conquered Hollywood but I’d always enjoyed reading romance novels, and one day I started writing one. It was a Regency romance and it went on to become Lady’s Wager, my first published novel.

Whoo Hoo! I love Regency romance. Is that the one romantic sub-genre you stick with, or do you write across lines?
I write both contemporary and historical and my historicals are set in many different time periods. I have one Regency and three contemporary romances currently available, and my ancient Rome novella is coming out from Carina Press in January 2012. I also have a sweet romance set in 1935 Hollywood coming out in 2012 from Avalon books.

Wow. Busy lady! Of these books, what can a reader expect in regards to heat level. Are we keeping that bedroom door open or closed?
Whether I write sweet or sexy always depends on the story and the publisher. My Avalon books are sweet romances where I close the door while my ancient Rome novella throws the door wide open.

Gotcha and good point. What are you working on right now?
I’m working on another Regency romance and starting to do research for an early Georgian novella. I also have a contemporary on the back burner waiting for me to solve a plot issue.

*chuckle* I have one of those myself. Funny how they hang around until that works out, isn't it? After finishing a manuscript, do you take some time off or dive right in to the next story?
I always have more than one manuscript going at the same time. When I get stuck on one, I will start working on one of the others. It helps take my mind off any plot problems so my subconscious can work through to a solution.

I JUST discovered this very thing myself. When one story is stuck, work on another. Great advice. What’s on your nightstand (or downloaded onto your Kindle) right now?
The Toll Gate by Georgette Heyer.

Does your husband ever read your work? And if so, what’s his reaction?
My husband always reads my work. He helps me make the men sound like men, and catch and fix plot problems.

Gosh, I love that! Good for him...and you! Okay, favorite cocktail?
Amaretto sour. I like sweet drinks.

What are your hobbies?
Reading, movies, reading, history, reading, thrifting and reading.

Any pets?
One semi-bald mutt who looks like a Cairn Terrier mix but the DNA test said he is mostly Maltese. I think the vet mixed up the blood sample.
LOL. Thanks so much for visiting with us Georgie! And now please read on for a little more about A Little Legal Luck, out now from The Wild Rose Press!

On St. Patrick’s Day, the last thing paralegal Lisa Brennan needs is another lawyer in her life, but when handsome attorney Daniel Wilson shows he’s a sweetheart in an industry of sharks, she’s intrigued. Daniel is impressed by the pretty paralegal and her desire to succeed despite a bad job, but with the pressure of running his own firm, does he have time for a relationship? Thrown together in the jury pool, Lisa must overcome her prejudices about attorneys to trust Daniel and get lucky in love.
“I’m hoping St. Patrick smiles on me today and I get picked for a trial.” Lisa laughed, finding the stranger’s upbeat mood infectious. “I’d kiss a lot of blarney stone to get out of work for a few days.”
He leaned forward, dropping his voice. “Then we must be the only two people here eager to do our patriotic duty.”
Glancing around the room at the bored women watching the morning show on the large overhead TVs and the college students absorbed in their i‑whatevers, she had the distinct feeling they were in the minority. “You want to serve?”
“I’m a lawyer, I know how important jurors are to the system.”
Her body tensed and the muscles in the back of her neck tightened.
Not all lawyers are like Lou, she reminded herself, taking a deep breath and forcing herself to relax.
Thankfully, he didn’t seem to notice her unconscious reaction as he held out his hand, and smiled, revealing perfect white teeth. “Daniel Wilson.” She grasped his hand, her skin tingling as his long fingers curled around hers.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tattered Pages Welcomes Author Doris Lemke!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Doris! To start us off, tell us about your writing routine.
I have a day job and an empty nest so I write in the evening (on the couch or on the lanai) and on weekends. 

Sounds familiar! :-) Give us a taste of your favorite authors, those that inspire you to write.
I was of course hooked on romance by Gone With the Wind.  But since then, Kathleen Woodiwis, Maeve Binchey, and Jude Deveraux.

Which is your favorite romance subgenre to read?
Any American historical romance. 

We all know the world of publishing is fraught with highs and lows. How do you deal with criticisms or rejections?
With four books written and two published, I'm used to rejection.  I simply look at the criticism if I'm lucky enough to have it, correct or dismiss as I feel necessary and move on to the next.  I've dedicated one book to the principle of persistence and truly believe that if you don't quit, you will succeed--eventually.

What do you expect from the author editor relationship?
I expect them to treat me as a colleague, but also to challenge "red herrings" that I may have missed and give me expert advice on how to strengthen my work.

Okay, now on to the good stuff. Tell us a little about your latest release.
Passion's Spirit was a long-time coming. Years of stops and starts.  But this story of forbidden love and racial tensions during a pivotal time in America's social and cultural development was a story that wouldn't go away.  Sean, as the manor-born, privileged southern gentleman and Elena the mixed-race Spanish/Apache orphan determined to avenge the murders of her adopted white parents, are the perfect mix for a clash of cultures, races, and social status.  So, as Sean and Elena pursue their often opposing agendas, they must learn to trust as well as love each other if they expect to survive an enemy who has waited a generation for his "pot of gold". Elena's mix of missionary Christianity and Apache spirituality, Sean's struggle to reconcile his responsibility to his family's ancestral plantation and his yearning to explore the West, and their life and death race with an enemy who's waited for, make for an exciting tale.
This sounds completely AWESOME! Care to share a short blurb or excert?

When Sean pulled away, Elena looked into his eyes wondering, is this what love feels like, or is it only lust? She decided that nothing as beautiful as the moment they’d just shared could be evil. But it could never be love, either. She had felt his passion press against her and ached for him to fill her. Now she was grateful he hadn’t. 

They were from different worlds still at war with each other. He could never survive in her world and she refused to live in his.

As if he read her thoughts, he leaned into her, whispering so close to her ear that it could have been a kiss, “Why can’t you be Mary Louise? And I the Apache brave who will eventually claim you?” Then he turned to stare at the stream patiently following the course nature had carved out for it.

The question echoed in Elena’s mind. For a moment, his heart had beat to the rhythm of hers. The curves of her body had melted into the angles of his as they breathed the same breath and tasted each other’s souls. For a moment, they had truly been one body and one soul.

Now separated, the chilly breeze that stirred the pine needles at their feet told her that when she was with him, even angry, she was whole. And though he changed his moods faster than the mountain gods and was promised to marry a weak and silly white woman, part of her would always belong to this loco Gringo.

She also turned her gaze toward the river. “We can only be who we are.”
Holy cow, Doris, I LOVE that excerpt. Of the characters in the story, which is your favorite?
Elena is my my favorite.  Orphaned, raised in a Santa Fe mission school and sent into the land of her enemies with a secret message that turns her life around, she remains true to both her Apache blood and her Christian upbringing.  Her courage to both sacrifice and fight for love make her a true heroine. 

Doris, this story sounds right up my alley. So, what are your working on now?
I have just finished a prequel to Passion's Spirit titled Passion's Secret, which brings the secrets, strengths, weaknesses and passions of the Langesford/O'Grady family to light.  These books are part of a four-book series called Passion's Legacy and follows the lives, loves, and amazing legacy of this complicated and courageous family from one century into another.  Passion's Secret will be released by The Wild Rose Press on April 20, 2012.

Uhhh…wow? Holy cow, that alone shows off that persistence pays off. So give aspiring novelists your biggest piece of advice.
Never stop learning, writing---and never give up on the dream. Nothing you write is ever wasted, so save it. 

Here's a peek at the beautiful cover and blurb:

Passion’s Spirit is available in print and ebook on October 19, 2011 from The Wild Rose Press as a Cactus Rose Romance.  Passion’s Spirit is the debut novel in the four-book, PASSION’S LEGACY series.  Passions Secret will follow with a 2012 release date.
Untamed Hearts, Worlds Apart – Santa Fe, New Mexico 1892
Raised by Santa Fe missionaries, half-Apache orphan Elena Santiago has vowed to avenge her white, guardians’ murders the Apache way. But first, she must masquerade as a white woman to deliver a dangerous message across the country into the land of her enemies. And after one look at the untamed spirit behind Sean O’Grady’s smoky grey eyes, she realizes that her heart’s response to his body, more like and Apache warrior than a soft, white “gentleman,” is far more dangerous than the warning she carries.”
Sean O’Grady has always dreamed of exploring the Wild West, but at 25 years old, he’s put aside those dreams to wed his neighbor and run their two Georgia plantations. When Elena arrives looking and speaking more like a Spanish lady than an Indian mission girl, he wonders if she's really who she says she is. Is she a virgin or a vixen? The question taunts him as he struggles with feelings he’s never felt before. Feelings that could get them both killed.
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

That's My Story and I'm Sticking To It!

I'm so, so, SO lucky to welcome Mary Campisi to Tattered cages, who shares with us a beautiful post about writing what is in our hearts. I couldn't agree more! PLUS, one lucky commentor will win an e-book copy of The Way They Were! Take it away, Mary!!

For years, when someone asked me what I wrote, I fidgeted, cleared my throat, and forced out the words, “I write romance and women’s fiction.” You can imagine the comments, the raised eyebrows, the little smirks that made me want to say, “No, wait! I write stories like Joyce Carol Oates…and Margaret Atwood.” That certainly would have squelched the look. Problem was, that’s not what I wrote. More importantly, that’s not what I wanted to write. If you are going to write a book, you had better darn well want to hang around with those people and their problems for three or four hundred pages…and in simple terms that can be anywhere from several months to years.
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So, why did I fidget and want to hide my true passion? That silly need for acceptance, I’m sure. Everyone wants to be thought of as brilliant and cutting edge. While I do enjoy reading Joyce and Margaret, I don’t want to actually have to write what they do. That’s quite a lot of pretending to be someone I’m not. You see where this is going, don’t you? I would love heartfelt praise and page after page of great reviews, but I’ve got to write what’s in my heart—what I’m most passionate about. For too long, I worried about what the outside world said—editors, agents, the writing world—and I didn’t listen to myself. Then after one particularly stressful day of aimless wandering, I said, “Enough!” It came shortly after taking Barbara Samuel’s writing class where she told me I might be doing myself a disservice by looking too much at the outside world for both validation and direction. By tapping into my passions, (gardens, food, dogs), I would find the most success. Such a wise woman! I began to explore self-publishing opportunities and oddly or maybe not, months later, the book that has garnered the most attention and success in the self-pub arena, is the contemporary romance/women’s fiction one that challenged me the most….A FAMILY AFFAIR.
I write romance and women’s fiction about second chances and that one true, seeped in near insurmountable circumstances. There is almost always a morally ambiguous situation. I’ll clarify that:
In A Family Affair, the mistress is more likeable than the real mother. (Real families aren’t always the ones you know about…)
In The Way They Were, the heroine married one man but never stopped loving another as evidenced in the once a year letter she writes him, (which she’ll never send.) (Tragedy tore them apart, now destiny may bring them back together.)
In Pieces of You, a mother’s disappearance isn’t really a disappearance at all but a planned abandonment that leaves a son scarred for future relationships. (Sometimes hiding in the shadows is the only way to protect your heart.)
And my soon to be released, Pulling Home—The heroine loves one brother but marries another. (She’ll risk anything to save her child…even the truth.)
And lest you think these are fly-by-night ideas, most of them live in my head for years before they spill onto the page. A Family Affair (5 years), The Way They Were (3 years), Pieces of You (3 years) Pulling Home (10 years). Sometimes, the story isn’t ready or I’m not ready to tell it the way it needs to be told. Pulling Home morphed and changed several times until finally, finally, I got it the way I wanted it!!
Thanks for stopping by and a most heartfelt thank you to AJ for opening her cyber home to me!
Happy Holidays!
Here's a sneak peek inside The Way They Were!

He hasn’t spoken her name in fourteen years. She keeps a journal hidden in the back of her closet and permits herself to write about him once a year—on the anniversary of the first and only time they made love. They promised to love one another forever, but tragedy tore them apart. Now, destiny may just bring them back together.
At eighteen, Rourke Flannigan and Kate Redmond thought they’d spend the rest of their lives together—until a family tragedy tore them apart. Fourteen years have passed and they’ve both carved out separate lives hundreds of miles apart—hers as a wife and mother, his as a successful, driven businessman. But once a year, on the anniversary of her daughter’s birth, Kate pulls out a red velvet journal and writes a letter, which she’ll never send, to the man who still owns her heart. Once a year, on the anniversary of the first and only time they made love, Rourke permits himself to read the annual investigative report detailing an ordinary day in Kate’s life.
When a subcontractor at one of Rourke’s holding companies is killed, Rourke decides to pay the widow a visit and offer condolences, never dreaming the widow will be Kate. As they embark on a cautious journey of rediscovery, one far greater than they could have imagined, secrets and lies threaten to destroy their newfound closeness—forever.

“He’s back.”
Kate’s brush slipped, smearing red paint onto the gray siding of the miniature dollhouse. Damn. She snatched a rag and began dabbing at the red spot.
She dabbed harder as if she could blot out Angie’s words. “I heard you.”
Kate glanced up, proud of the outward calm she displayed when her insides were a jumble of panic. “And what?”
“Oh for heaven’s sake, it’s me you’re talking to here, the one who sat up with you for three nights straight after that jerk left.” Angie swore under her breath and muttered, “He didn’t even have the decency to say good-bye.” 
“It was a long time ago.” Fourteen years in July. 
Angie Sorrento was a pint-size dynamo with a giant-sized temper who swore in Italian and English and could carry a grudge longer than anyone Kate had ever known. The only grudge larger than the one Angie had for Rourke Flannigan was the one relegated to the ex-fiancé who skipped out on her three days before the wedding.
“Really, Angie. Fourteen years is ancient history.”
Angie’s dark eyes narrowed. “That’s what I’m worried about, Kate. Your history with Mr. Jerk.”
“There’s no need to worry.” Kate dipped her brush in red and filled in the trim along the roof. This house was a four bedroom cape cod, designed for Rachel and Jared Hennessy and their seven year old twins, Jeffrey and Jason. The family had relocated from Richmond, Virginia last year so Jared could teach sophomore English and coach basketball in Montpelier. Great family—devoted couple, beautiful kids, even a golden retriever named Jed.
Angie started up again. “Even if it weren’t ‘Mr. Holier than Thou, let me grace you with my presence in this Podunk town’ and even if said man-boy weren’t someone you’d been intimately involved with, I’d still be worried.”
“Unnecessarily.” Kate ignored the way her pulse skittered when Angie talked about him.
“You’re vulnerable.”
“Stop.” Her pulse tripled.
“You buried Clay five months ago. That makes you a lonely widow. The perfect target.”
“You watch too many Lifetime movies.” Had he heard about Clay? That was ridiculous, how could he have heard? She had no idea where he lived and now, suddenly, he was here. Why?
“Katie? Are you all right?”
No, she wasn’t. She hadn’t been all right since—Kate pushed the unwelcome truth away and glanced at her friend. “I’m fine.”
“Fine is code word for no. Look, I know you don’t want to talk about him, but there are some things you’ve got to know before this guy comes waltzing back into your life.”
“He’s hardly waltzing back into my life.”
“Steamrolling then. You just wait and see.”
“We haven’t seen each other since we were eighteen.”  A marriage and child ago. “We’re strangers.”
“You were planning to marry the guy.”
Kate set down her brush and plastered the same expression she’d worn when well-wishers patted her hand and offered prayers for strength to endure her newly-widowed state. She’d never told Clay how much he meant to her, not really and now one freakish accident had stolen her chances of ever telling him.
“They say he kicks people out of their homes to get a deal.”
“That’s crazy. He would never—” She stopped. How did she know what he would never do? He was a man now, not a teenager.
“They say he buys the buildings dirt cheap, after he kicks the tenants out, and then renovates the places into posh apartments for his rich friends.” Angie crossed her arms over her small chest and tilted her head to one side so several black springs of hair bounced off her shoulders. “While you were watching Barney with Julia, I was watching him on E and seeing his face plastered in People.”
Rourke had always hated media in any form, said they made it hard to find a nugget of truth in anything. Kate started to shake her head in denial and ended in a shrug. What did she really know about him anymore? The truth slipped out again. Nothing.
“He flew to Sweden to have dinner with some beauty queen. And spent Easter skiing in the Alps.”
“Busy man.” While Rourke was globetrotting, she’d been burying her husband and trying to console her daughter.
“Still not married though plenty have tried to snag him.”
So, there was no wife.
“Here.” Angie slid a folder across the table.  “Everything you need to arm yourself against Mr. Rourke Connor Flannigan.”
Kate glanced at the manila folder in front of her.  “You make him sound like a villain.”
“If he gets to you again, you won’t survive.”
“Are there pictures in here?” Kate fingered the folder. 
“Of course.” Angie let out an indelicate snort. “Okay, he’s drop dead gorgeous, I will give him that, but not much else.”
With a flip of the folder, she could satisfy fourteen years of wondering. “Maybe I’ll just take a peek—”
“Damn! Close the folder. Quick.”
“Because Mr. Jerk’s standing right outside.”
Rourke hesitated at the door of the little shop with scalloped pink and blue trim. Dream Houses by Kate. She was in there, the woman who had ripped his heart into tiny shreds, invisible to the human eye.
That was history. He was here to offer condolences, nothing more. But when he opened the door he realized two fatal errors; never engage on foreign ground and never underestimate the past.
She was more beautiful than the photo he obtained two weeks ago. A photograph couldn’t capture the aura of femininity, vulnerability, and raw strength that emanated from her. If he weren’t so good at masking his emotions, he’d be on the floor, sucking for air.
Not Kate. Other than a trimmed wariness flashing in the brilliance of her blue eyes and a slight flair of her delicate nostrils, she appeared unmoved. Where was the girl who had cried on his shoulder during Love Story?
She spoke first. “Hello, Rourke.”
Her voice swirled around him and threatened to pull him under. “Kate.” He hadn’t spoken her name since he was eighteen and the raw unfamiliarity of it burned his lips.
She opened her mouth to speak and Rourke zeroed in on her lips. Full, kissable.
“Well, if it isn’t Rourke Flannigan.”
He snapped his head up and glanced at Kate’s best friend. He hadn’t missed the censure or the distaste in her voice. Some things never changed. “Hello, Angie.”
She dismissed him with a flounce of wild curls and turned to Kate. “I’ll be in the back room if you need me.”
He waited until the she-witch disappeared and picked up a strip of miniature lattice, feigning great interest in the delicate wood, anything to keep from staring at Kate. “She never did like me.”
“She’s very protective.”
“Of course.” She always said I’d hurt you. He met Kate’s gaze and the years chipped away. Did I hurt you? Did I rip your insides apart? Did you think of me when you were lying in your husband’s arms? 
“Why are you here?”
Was that a tremble in her voice? “Business. And my niece.” He hadn’t meant to mention Abbie, but two seconds with Kate and already his guard started slipping.
There was a distinct tremble in her voice. Did he make her nervous? 
“Rourke? What about your niece?”
“Gwendolyn was killed in a plane crash three months ago. I’m Abbie’s guardian. She’s having some adjustment issues and I thought Montpelier might be a nice break.”
She looked away. “I see.”
“I don’t know anything about being a father.” He slid into the chair opposite her workstation. “It’s damned harder than when we were kids. I think. Hell, I don’t know.”
“It’s never easy, being the child or the parent.”
“I can see why people opt for the childless route.”
Those huge eyes rimmed with emotion. “Some do.”
“But not you.”
She was pulling him in, one whispered word, one doe-eyed glance at a time. He was not a testosterone-crazed teenager anymore. He had been surrounded by far more beautiful, more sophisticated women than the one sitting across from him with red paint smeared on her fingers and a smudge of red on her chin. But none of them were Kate. That was the problem. That had always been the problem.
“I heard about Clay.” He fidgeted with his keys, but couldn’t quite look at her when he said, “I’m sorry.”
“Thank you.”
She bowed her head and for one absolutely insane second, he wanted to pull her against him and inhale the scent of her chestnut hair. Would it still smell like coconut? What the hell was he doing here? This wasn’t the Kate he remembered. This one was untouchable. What had he expected? That she’d gaze upon him with something akin to hero worship, like most other women did? He needed to get out. Now. He calculated his exit and just as he’d worked a strategy, he noticed his name in neat print on the tab of the folder lying in front of Kate.
“What’s this?” He slid the folder forward.
“Nothing!” She made a quick lunge for it, but Rourke snatched it away.
“Nothing?” He eased the folder open. “Hmmm.”  He stared back at magazine and newspaper clippings of himself in various locations, with various women, all beautiful, all supposedly in love with him. Rourke scanned the printed dates and captions, then closed the folder and slid it back to her.
“Would never make it as a private eye. That wasn’t just a Swedish beauty queen, that was the Queen’s niece.” He smiled and shrugged at her distress. “And the Alps,” he leaned forward to whisper, “heir to a makeup dynasty.”
“I see.”
But none of them touched my heart the way you did. “Kate.”
“What happened to Clay?”
She looked away. “He fell fifty feet from a lift. He was always so careful.” Her voice cracked, “I just don’t understand.”
Rourke cleared his throat and fiddled with a piece of lattice. How much could a person make painting dollhouses? Enough to support two people? “Have the investigators finished their reports yet?” When she shook her head he said, “You should start receiving money once the investigations are complete.”
She coughed as though embarrassed to be discussing such an indelicate subject as money with him when she so obviously had little and he so obviously had plenty. He thought of the night they planned their future together, the Victorian house they’d build, the lake, the workshop for her artwork, the four children they’d have . . .
“I’ve been talking to a few people. They say I have options.”
That brought him around—fast. People meant lawyers, preyers of the weak and grief-stricken. Wasn’t it his humanitarian duty to inquire before she got herself mixed up in a scam? “What kind of people?”
She shrugged. “What kind of people surface at a tragedy? Lawyers, of course.”
“The cream of the crop, I’m sure.” Who? Give me their names.
“They’re not all bad.” She looked down at her hands and picked at the red paint on her finger.
“You need to be careful. There are too many ambulance chasers out there trying to make a case where there is none.” He laid a hand on the table, inches from hers. “If you want me to speak with them, I will.”
Her head shot up. “Why would you do that?”
“To help you.” It was such a smooth delivery, Miles would be proud. Was it true? The next words spilled out before he could yank them back. “I’m going to be here a few weeks, maybe several.” At least until I shut down these damn lawyers. He flashed a smile which warped into a straight line when she merely continued to stare.
“Why are you really here, Rourke?”
He remembered the way she’d cried out his name the first and only night they made love. Another truth snuck past the subterfuge in his soul and aimed a steady path straight at her. “Who are we kidding, Kate? We’ve got fourteen years of questions between us and I’m not leaving until every one of them is answered.”

Mary Campisi should have known she’d become a writer when at age thirteen she began changing the ending to all the books she read.  It took several years and a number of jobs, including registered nurse, receptionist in a swanky hair salon, accounts payable clerk, and practice manager in an OB/GYN office, for her to rediscover writing.  Enter a mouse-less computer, a floppy disk, and a dream large enough to fill a zip drive. The rest of the story lives on in every book she writes.
When she’s not working on her craft or following the lives of five young adult children, Mary’s digging in the dirt with her flowers and herbs, cooking, reading, walking her rescue lab mix, Cooper, or on the perfect day, riding off into the sunset with her very own ‘hero’ husband on his Electra Glide Classic aka Harley.

Find Mary on the web at: