The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

A Spell in Provence

A Spell in Provence

Friday, 23 November 2012

Guest post by Kay Lalone and 'Ghostly Clues'

Today I am delighted to welcome MuseitUp Publishing author Kay Lalone whose novel ‘Ghostly Clues’ will be released later this month.


  1. Hello Kay and welcome. Can you tell us a little about Ghostly Clues?
 Ghostly Clues is about an almost 13 year old girl, Sarah Kay, who has just lost her grandma. Sarah Kay and her best friend, Mary Jane, love to read ghost stories and watch scary movies, but never thought they would see a real live ghost. Sarah Kay started to smell lilacs, Grandma’s favorite flower, and they weren’t in bloom at the time so Sarah Kay thought that was strange and weird things start to happen. The girls think Grandma is a ghost and is trying to tell Sarah Kay something.  Grandma needs to let Sarah Kay know that her father, who she thought was dead, might be alive. So Grandma’s ghost leaves Sarah Kay with clues to follow to discover the truth.

2.   How did you get the idea for the story?
 When I was a little girl a little bit younger than Sarah Kay, my grandma died and I had my first encounter with a ghost. It was a ghostly hand and I remember it taking a doll off my bed. The next morning the doll was way under my bed. I believe it was my grandma’s way of telling me I was too old to sleep with dolls. For some reason, that memory has always been with me and helped to inspire this story. Over the years I’ve added to the memory by asking what if questions.

3.   What or who inspired you to write?
When I was thirteen or fourteen years old, I read Halloween Party by Agatha Christy. After reading that book, I became inspired to become a writer. Over the years there have been many favorite authors who have inspired me. But what inspires me now to write is life, people and things around me, my family, and especially my three sons.  
  
4.   What is the best advice you ever received regarding writing?
Read, read, read, and write, write, write. If you want to call yourself a write, you need to write. I’ve been asked by people who want to write a book, what advice I can give them and I tell them to write. Just sit down and write. I think that is the hardest thing for a writer to do is find the time to write. You can always learn the things you need to write a good story, but unless you have the drive, the discipline to sit down and write, then learning how to write a good story is useless. Reading is entertaining plus gives you a sense of how other authors write.

5.    What is your writing environment like? Is music important to you, and what time of the day do you prefer to write? 

The best time of day for me to write is in the morning after I have my coffee, of course. I can’t function without coffee. I treat my writing time like a job. I have to be at work at a certain time. Usually, I like the house to be quiet when I write because it helps me focus and I’m able to read my stories out loud. Sometimes I even act out a scene, but I do that when I’m alone otherwise my family would think I’m crazy. I always carry a notebook with me to jot down ideas when they come to me otherwise I lose the idea and maybe a good story. So in my head I’m always writing, working out stories and ideas, and observing the way people act. 


Blurb

The sweet scent of lilacs permeates the air around Grandma’s gravesite. Only Sarah Kay can smell Grandma’s favorite flower, and they’re not even in bloom.

Sarah Kay and her best friend, Mary Jane, believe the lilacs are a sign from Grandma’s ghost. The girls follow one ghostly clue after another, uncovering a secret that Mom never wanted Sarah Kay to know.  


Excerpt

The smell of lilacs drifted in the air and I held the sneeze in, too afraid of the scene in front of me. My heart beat faster as the glow transformed into the shape of a woman. The lady had snow-white hair pulled back in a bun. A smile formed on her face and her familiar sky-blue eyes twinkled. The springs creaked as she lowered herself to the bed and the smell of lilacs greeted me like a hug.

“Grandma?” I whispered, sitting up and staring.

Grandma looked the same as when she was alive except her hair was grayer than I remembered.

She bent down to pick up the doll. As she handed it to me, her mouth moved but no sound came out.

“Grandma, what are you trying to tell me?” I whispered.

“Kay, darling, don’t cry. Your grandfather will be okay,” Grandma finally said. “It’s not his time to go home yet.”

“Wow.” My jaw dropped open. “I can hear you.” I wanted to wrap my arms around her and squeeze, but fear that any movement would cause Grandma to disappear stopped me. “How do you know Gramps will be okay?”

“He’s too stubborn. He just needs to take it easy. So make sure he does that. It’s not his time to be with me.”

“How can you be here?”

“That’s not important.” Grandma touched my hand.

The touch felt strange like a warm tingling sensation. I sat very still afraid this moment wouldn’t last long.

Grandma stared at me for a moment. Her form seemed to become more transparent. The cluttered dresser behind her started to appear clearer.

“Find your father. There are two sides to a family. I love you, Kay,” she whispered before she vanished along with the sweet flowery aroma





Thank you very much Kay, for coming on the blog today to talk about ‘Ghostly Clues’. I totally agree with what you say about the importance of self discipline and writing every day. I do try to do that too, but with a full-time job and three children, I don’t often get to sit down at my cluttered desk until eight or nine o’clock at night and then I fall asleep! 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

I got a cover for 'The Lion's Embrace'

I am delighted to share the cover for 'The Lion's Embrace', my historical romance which will be published in February 2013 by MuseitUp Publishing. Isn't it beautiful?


Blurb

Algiers, 1845
Arrogant, selfish and dangerous, Lucas Saintclair is everything Harriet Montague dislikes in a man. He is also the best guide in the whole of the Barbary States, the only man who can rescue her archaeologist father from the gang of Tuareg fighters that has kidnapped him. As Harriet embarks on a perilous journey across Algeria with Saintclair and Archibald Drake, her father’s most trusted friend, she discovers a bewitching but brutal land where nothing is what it seems. Who are these men intent on stealing her father’s ransom? What was her father hoping to find in Tuareg queen Tin Hinan’s tomb? Is Lucas Saintclair really as callous as he claims—or is he a man haunted by a past he cannot forgive? Dangerous passions engulf Harriet’s heart in the heat of the Sahara. Secrets of lost treasures, rebel fighters, and a sinister criminal brotherhood threaten her life and the life of the man she loves.

Does forever lie in the lion’s embrace?




Saturday, 10 November 2012

Author Zrinka Jelic is on my blog today!

Today I am delighted to welcome author Zrinka Jelic on my blog.

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Hello fans of romance and thank you, Marie for hosting me on your blog. I’m glad to be here today when we take time to remember those who laid their lives for the better future.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

As you can see from the poster and the first two verses of McCrea’s “In Flanders Fields” poem, I’m Canadian. But my home country is Croatia and therefore all my novels take place there, partially or in whole. My debut novel “Bonded by Crimson” is set partially in Croatia and the hero is a three centuries immortal from a well-known Croatian legend whose forbidden love ended tragically. It was only natural that the hero experienced a few wars along his long life.

Here’s a short excerpt:
“May, 1942 – Three weeks since we arrived at the underground hospital of Petrova Gora and Matthias immersed himself in the work. I am yet to get used to him carrying that blasted gun holstered to his belt. He is exhausted, and although he hides it well, I can see the sorrow on his face from the lost lives of those in his care. The supplies are running short, forcing him to relive the horror of when he had to operate without sedation. This war has made animals of the best of men, with brothers, willing to kill each other. What for, I ask? When will all this needless dying end?”
Kate shivered at the horrors of war and flipped to the next page. Matthias stared at her from a sepia photograph. She smiled and ran her finger over his image captured in time. Two large golden stars on the epaulets of his jacket indicated his rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. The five point star was displayed on the tilted wedge cap nestled in his thick hair. Then Emina’s diary took Kate to a different world once again, and she lost any sense of time until Matthias’s hand caressed her neck, sending sensuous shivers down her spine. She placed the diary on the table and looked up at his face. He held the phone pressed to his ear. Over sixty years ago, during the Second World War when her parents were children, the man she was about to marry fought as a Partisan. Would she ever get used to his real age?

Blurb:
Love isn’t in the cards for her…
After her short, failed marriage, Kate tries to rebuild her life and takes a position as a nanny to three small boys. She quickly grows to love them, but their father terrifies her, while igniting a passion she didn’t know she possessed. Disturbed by his distant manner with his sons, Kate struggles to make him more involved in the boys’ daily lives. Her efforts are mysteriously supported by an entity that cannot really exist. Or can she? And if she does exist, is she really trying to help Kate, or just take over her body?
But when he deals the hand, all bets are off…
Six years after his beloved wife passed away, Matthias Zrin is still trying to become the father she wanted him to be. Not an easy task for a three-centuries-old immortal. His search for the ultimate nanny ends when Kate Rokov stumbles to his home and into his arms. The immediate attraction he feels for her seems like a betrayal of his dead wife, a love he’s harboured for over three hundred years. But when Kate is stalked by a deadly stranger, the life he clung to in the past begins to crumble and break down. Can Matthias learn to trust and to love again in time to save his family from disaster, or will his stubborn pride destroy everything worth living for?






Biography
Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children. A member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter Fantasy Futuristic &Paranormal, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction—which leans toward the paranormal—and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that’s about the only break they get. “Alas,” Jelic says, with a grin. “Some rain must fall in everyone’s life.”
Website

Watch the book trailer here:


Also watch for my second novel “Treasured Chest” a pirate’s romance, coming out November 24th.


Thank you Zrinka for coming on my blog today. Good luck with the release of your latest novel.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

You've got the "LOOK" - ziggy zig zag tag!


Thank you so much Francine for tagging me today!


As part of this tag, I'm supposed to take my most recent work in progress or my current manuscript and search for the word, "look," then post the surrounding paragraphs/text. 


So here it is, an excerpt from the beginning of my current work in progress, 'Dancing for the Devil' which takes place near Cape Wrath in the far north of Scotland, in 1847.


****

‘I am Rose Saintclair… I mean Lady McRae.’ Using her married name for the first time felt strange, but then again the very idea of being Cameron's wife still seemed more a dream than reality.  

The man bent down toward her and held out his hands. 

‘Allow me.’

A little apprehensive, she put her hands in his. He lifted her up as if she weighed no more than a feather pillow and for a second she flew in the air… and straight into his arms.

He looked down at her. At first, she only saw his eyes, grey like the storm clouds overhead and framed with dark eyelashes. Then she took in his high cheekbones, straight nose and strong, unsmiling mouth. His hair flew around his face, the colour of a raven's wing. 

‘Well… Fàilte, my lady.’ His voice was deep, loud enough for everyone to hear.  ‘I think I should give you a proper greeting. What do you think of a welcome kiss? I promise I won’t tell your husband.’

The crowed erupted once again into laughter and cheers.



Now it's my turn to tag five more ziggy zig zag writers and let them know I tagged them so that they can share their work in progress with the blogging community....

Helen Fairfax    http://helenafairfax.com/

Zrinca Jelic  
Christy McKee     http://www.christymckee.com/home.html

Hywela Lyn    http://www.hywelalyn.co.uk/

Nancy Bell   http://www.nancymbell.ca/


Monday, 5 November 2012

A photo tour of some locations in 'Angel Heart'

'Angel Heart', my debut historical romance set in 1815, takes place mostly in France, in an area around Lyon and the Beaujolais region I know very well, having lived there for many years. Later in the story my heroin Marie-Ange also travels from Devonshire to Algiers and Malta.

Today I am posting a few photos of Lyon, particularly of Isle Barbe, of the Palais Saint Pierre and the famous 'traboules' which are long, secret passages in the old town...

I hope you enjoy the views...

Isle Barbe lies to the north of the city, on ther river Saône.




The 'traboules' are long passages linking houses and streets in the 'Vieux Lyon', the old part of the city.


There are over 500 of these passages in Lyon. They were first built in the IV century to allow people a quick access to the river where they could get water.

They were then used by silk workers to carry their wares when the weather was inclement. Lyon was, and still is, an important centre for silk. The 'canuts' (the silk workers) used their knowledge of the network of 'traboules' to organise their revolt in 1831.

They were later used by French resistants during the Second World War.

Walking down a quiet, empty 'traboule' is a great experience. You never quite know where exactly you're going to end up!
        
At last, the Palais Saint-Pierre... Located in the heart of the city, on 'La Presqu'île' - the area between the rivers Rhône and Saône - its secluded gardens offer a haven of peace and tranquillity. It was a monastery until the French revolution and is now an art museum.

I will be back soon with photos of the Beaujolais and of the village of Malleval in the Pilat...

In the meantime, please visit http://thebooksblurb.blogspot.co.at/2012/11/angel-heart.html, a great site where you can read the blurb for 'Angel Heart' and other novels. If you leave a comment, your name will be entered in monthly draw to win an Amazon gift card. Winners are announced on the first Thursday of the month.