My April Reads and a Giveaway

I love to read. What books have you read now that you stay at home?

Writers must read, it is part and partial of what helps us grow as authors. I love to read. More accurately I love escaping to other times and places. I have since I first learned to read. I want to share with you some of the books I’ve read so far in last month. I’m in the middle of my own writing projects so I don’t read as furiously as I like.  I enjoy a variety of genres. Each of these stories inspired me. The research was well-done and the story arcs solid. Things that writers need to see done, not just read about in craft books. These are fresh off the presses novels that I hope you’ll take a chance on. These authors write great stories.

Contemporary Romance/Suspense

Book Blurb of Within Golden Bands by Norma Gail:

Newly married Bonny MacDonell finds the transition from American college professor to Scottish sheep farmer’s wife more difficult than she expected. When her miracle pregnancy ends in a devastating miscarriage, she fears her husband’s reaction will hurt more than the loss of their child.

But Kieran never shows up at the hospital. When found, he is beaten and unconscious. The only memory of his attacker is the words, “Get off my land.” Reeling from the threat to her husband and the loss of their child, Bonny struggles to hold her marriage together. When faith in love is not enough, where do you turn? Buy link.

My Review: This book is so new you can’t write reviews on amazon yet.

I loved Land of Our Dreams, book #1 in the series. Within Golden Bands is even better. The first book brought Keiren and Bonnie together and you expect a happily ever after. But Within the Golden Bands from page one presents a myriad of trials that could break a marriage. Add to that someone is trying to destroy everything they love. The character’s reactions to the situations are so real. Norma Gail’s description of the Scottish settings and the splattering of Gaelic throughout drew me into the story in a deeper way. There is a faith thread that is unmistakable but not preachy. The action will have you turning pages well into the night. A great story.

Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Book Blurb of Traces by Denise Weimer:

Even if she evades The Eye, someone wants her silenced.

When a failed romance and a $500,000 prize lure Kate Carson into participating in the reality TV show, Traces, the least she expects is to pick her partner. After all, she’s the PR spokeswoman of the company that derived a thirteen-lens, rotating camera from military use and installed it atop Atlanta’s tallest skyscraper. But she never would have chosen to evade techno hunters for twenty days with “G.I. Joe.”

Stoic, ex-military Alex Mitchell is the sort of man she always vowed to avoid, while the shadows of Alex’s past cause him to spurn emotional involvement. When Kate’s insider knowledge makes her a target of someone more threatening than game show hunters, Alex offers her only hope to reveal the dark plans of proponents of The Eye. Buy link.

My review of Traces:

Denise Weiser has taken a what-if moment to create a wonderful love story and so much more. Putting two people together with nothing in common to compete in a Reality TV show is interesting enough. Add someone trying to kill them and you have a heart-pounding Suspense Romance that leaves you wondering just how much Big Brother is watching. Love the vulnerable characters and the inspirational thread that made me root for their happily ever after moment, even more. Denis Weimer delivers well-written stories with satisfying endings. I find myself thinking about the characters throughout the day anxiously waiting for a chance to rejoin them on their quest. Grab a copy.

Women’s Fiction

Book Blurb for Libby’s Cuppa of Joe by Rebecca Waters:

Sonja Parker is about to find out.

Excited to leave her stale life in the big city behind, Sonja takes the money her grandmother left her and purchases Libby’s Cuppa Joe, a thriving coffee shop in a small community in Wisconsin’s Door County. Sonja may have business sense, but is she ready to face the world on her own?

Sonja soon discovers owning a business requires more than offering a good cup of coffee. She must make major repairs to the building as well as major repairs to her heart. Do the former owners, Libby and Joe hold the answer? As Sonja seeks to make Libby’s Cuppa Joe a viable business, can she also find herself and the God she has abandoned?

Libby’s Cuppa Joe is a riveting tale of second chances, forgiveness, and not living on borrowed faith. Buy link.

 

My Review of Libby’s Cuppa of Joe

Sonja Parker is your sweet naive girl next door who buys a successful coffee shop in Door County. The story is told from her viewpoint and we watch her stumble about as she finds her brand for the business. She makes foolish mistakes and discovers her need for true faith. Sonja is bright but deals with the fear of failure. The community of shopkeepers and year-round residents help her find her way. Door County is a wonderful setting and the coffee shop makes the whole story more intimate. A fun inspiring read for lovers of Women’s fiction. I look forward to more from Rebecca Waters.

Book Blurb for Devyn’s Dilemma (Book two of the Thousand Island Gilded Age series) By Susan G. Mathis

Longing for love, can she escape the shadows that follow her to Dark Island?

1910, Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart.

Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret, one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her. Buy link.

My review of Devyn’s Dilemma

I so enjoyed learning about The Thousand Islands through this sweet romance. The characters were well-developed and Devyn’s love interest Brice being Irish added to the story with his appropriate Irish sayings scattered throughout. Exploring the castle summer home of the Bourne’s, real life people from the early 20th Century, held my interest. The details regarding the secret passages showed how much research the author did to capture the setting. The dialog and attitude of the time were spot on. I cheered on Devlyn and Brice and booed the bad guys as the story unfolded. I will say although Devlyn had a guilty secret that haunted her, I thought she cried or held back tears way too much. That said, I loved all the characters, even the wicked ones and can’t wait for the next book in the series. Stories such as this set in Historical places have always perked my interest. Susan Mathers has done such an excellent job of sprinkling history and historical characters throughout the story that I learned all sorts of wonderful things about the time period. I will definitely be ordering the next book in this series when it comes out.

Before April is over I plan to finish a few more books on my to be read pile. What have you been reading since your confinement? I’m offering a $10 Amazon card to one lucky winner who posts what they are currently reading or their favorite genre. I will notify the winner next Monday.

 

 

 

Two of my favorite new authors and why I love them

They say it’s important to read best-sellers and study their work to see how they did it. “They” can often miss some great gems in the leasser known authors. As I said before, I read alot. I love stories, I love learning things and when they can be combined in wonderful novels I’m especially blessed. I write historical romance and I reading how other historicla authors create their worlds teaches me things even if the author isn’t on the NYT best seller list. Below are four books I read over the last few months that really resinated with me. One is a series by Naomi Musch and the other is by Denise Weimer. Both excellent historical writers with other wonderful books available.

The Echoes of Heart series takes place in the first part of the twentieth century, a time less written about. Here are hNaomi Musch’s three books and my reviews of them.

Echoes of The Heart Book # 1 The Deepest Sigh by Naomi Musch

Seventeen year old Marilla Eckert has been in love with Langdon Prescott, her family’s hired hand, since she was fourteen years old. Determined to win him, she’s blissfully unaware of the secret passion he feels for her older sister Delia. But when Delia weds a longtime beau, Lang settles for Marilla and marries her anyway, despite his continued longing and intent to someday win her sister away from her husband. It isn’t long before Marilla realizes where Lang’s devotion truly lies, yet she presses on, giving everything she has to offer, convinced she can still gain his love.

Then America steps into the Great War. The men are sent a world away to fight, and Marilla’s cares, coupled with the lack of her husband’s favor, finally wear her thin. When heartache and disaster strike on every front, and Marilla’s hour of need leads her elsewhere for comfort, will all of them wind up too broken to ever find their hearts’ true homes?

My review

The setting is Wisconsin dairy country during the time of World War I. It’s the retelling of the Biblical story of Rachel and Leah, but it’s not. I found myself disliking Langdon Prescott right from the start. But that was good, because when he changes for the better I’m cheering. My heart went out to his longsuffering wife Rilla, who loved him from the moment she first lays eyes on him. This historically accurate, well-crafted story was everything I wanted to see despite a few detours before reaching it’s satisfying ending.

Book #2 The Softest Breath

Modern girls seemed always in a hurry. Now one of them has slammed into Jacob Hessman on the street near St. Paul’s Union Depot and boarded his train. He knows her type: flapper-chic in her bobbed hair and stylish dress, so different from the sweet, country-bred kind of girl who once filled his heart.

Gwendolyn Smith’s narrow window of time to escape Hugh Phelps is closing fast. Performing in speakeasies and underground clubs has left her mistrustful of most men, but the big fellow she plows into on her flight to the station seems safe enough to attach herself to for short-term protection.

Friendship unfolds, but Gwen hides behind lies, wishing she might deserve such a God-fearing man as Jacob, and Jacob’s pursuit of a perfect wife conflicts with his mounting concern for Gwen. Meanwhile, Hugh is catching up. For Jacob and Gwen, trapped in their pasts and misconceptions, the time for truth and love is running out.

My review

Jacob Hessman, the longsuffering friend of Marilla in The Deepest Sigh get his happily ever after. I was fond of Jacob and his desire to always do the right thing. And that conviction presents all sorts of problems when he determines to help the mysterious Gwen Smith. Loved the characters. The prohibition era setting made it so interesting. Naomi Much captures the timeframe and keeps you there through the whole story. I enjoyed the twists and turns the plot takes before the two are truly ready to tie the knot.

 

Book #3 The Brightest Hope

Five years after the Great War…Holly Allen is a well-adjusted war widow with a knack for running the family press. She’s over the days of waiting for a white knight to ride in and sweep her away from her cares. Besides, if Hugh Phelps is a knight, he’s certainly a black one—with his prison record, personal demons, and the ghosts of war that haunt him. When Holly hires Hugh, despite her reservations, it isn’t long before she sees the man he could really be, and as Hugh finds his niche at Allen’s Printing, he finds his lady boss equally appealing. Despite the attraction, however, Holly won’t let herself fall for a faithless man, and Hugh isn’t on gracious terms with God. Then, just when new beginnings seem possible, old heartaches from the war come calling. Now it might only be in letting go of everything dear that they both discover what real love is.

 

My Review

I’ll admit I was surprised when Huge Phelps, the villian, from The Softest Breath becomes the hero in this story. His reformation is not quite complete until he truly learns what sacrificial love is as he finds himself falling for Holly Allen. The surprise in this plot left me saying “oh no!” and turning the pages to see how it would all work out. A satisfying ending not only to this story but the Echoes of the Heart series.

 

Denise Weimer’s The Witness Tree

Past betrayal has turned John Kliest’s passion to his work as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina. Now, to satisfy the elders’ edict and fulfill his mission in Cherokee Territory, he needs a bride. But the one woman qualified to record the Cherokee language longs for a future with his younger brother.

Clarissa Vogler’s dream of a life with Daniel Kliest is shattered when she is chosen by lot to marry his older brother and venture into the uncharted frontier. Can she learn to love this stoic man who is now her husband? Her survival hinges on being able to trust him—but they both harbor secrets.

 

 

My review

Denise Weimer brought the Moravian culture from the early 1800s to life for me. I learned so much about the time period while following the Kleists into the wilderness of Georgia and the Cherokee nation. Wonderful surprises and plot twists. The sprinkling of German and Cherokee words throughout the story added to the realism. Following the struggles of the arranged marriage of John and Clarissa kept me turning the pages. Many actual historical figure mingled into the story added the realism that made this story truly engaging.

My thoughts on Naomi Musch and Denise Weimer

Naomi Musch

Both of these authors captured the time periods beautifully. Showing the culture and the mind set of those from history. I learned a great deal as a lover of history and a writer of Historical Romance. And as a reader getting swept away into another time is absolutely the best experience ever.

Denise Weimer

 

 

Have you discovered any awesome authors that aren’t on the NYT Best-Sellers list that you love?  Share in the comments.

Researching to Write a Contemporary vs a Historical Romance

Today, Denise Weimer returns to share some helpful insight into research. She writes in both historical and contemporary romance which means taking a different track to gather background nformation for each genre. Take it away Denise.

 

Hi, readers! I’m delighted to be visiting on Cindy’s blog, sharing about my TWO novels that release this month through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, one a contemporary with Candlelight Romance imprint, and one a historical with Smitten Historical Romance imprint.

 

Fall Flip, Candlelight contemporary romance, set in the river town of Augusta, GA

The tragic death of Shelby Dodson’s husband—her partner in a successful Home Network house flipping business—stole love, status, and career. Now a bungalow redesign thrusts Shelby into the company of a new contractor. Scott Matthews remembers high-and-mighty Shelby from high school, and her prissy, contemporary style goes against his down-to-earth grain. When the house reveals a mystery, will its dark secrets—and their own mistakes—cost a second chance at love? https://www.amazon.com/dp/1645261883/

The Witness Tree, Smitten historical romance, set in Salem, NC, and Cherokee Indian Territory (now NW GA)

Past betrayal has turned John Kliest’s passion to his work as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina. Now, to satisfy the elders’ edict and fulfill his mission in Cherokee Territory, he needs a bride. But the one woman qualified to record the Cherokee language longs for a future with his younger brother.

Clarissa Vogler’s dream of a life with Daniel Kliest is shattered when she is chosen by lot to marry his older brother and venture into the uncharted frontier. Can she learn to love this stoic man who is now her husband? Her survival hinges on being able to trust him—but they both harbor secrets. (https://www.amazon.com/Witness-Tree-gain-break-heart/dp/1645260623/)

 

As you can imagine, researching for these stories looked very different.

 

For a contemporary romance:

  • My research emphasis falls heavily on the careers of the characters or things that happen during the course of the story, like home renovation. Sometimes I interview experts or visit job sites.
  • A trip to the setting proves imperative. Where do the locals eat? What smells and sounds predominate? How do the people talk? And what do the neighborhoods look like? When researching for Fall Flip, I’d picked out online a specific historical neighborhood to be the upscale spot where the parents live, only to discover in person that the neighborhood had fallen into disrepair.

 

For a historical romance:

  • I tend to start with the real history, poring over web sites, books, and microfilm, funneling pertinent facts into a timeline. From what really happened in history, I salvage bits and pieces into my fictional plot. I need to know what’s realistic before I can begin to picture the story.
  • I add to that timeline maps that help me figure distances, terrain, and travel time.
  • And I add portraits and drawings of real historical figures, fashion plates, and buildings. And yes, sometimes the handsome actor who helps me picture my hero just right.
  • A visit to the location can be extremely helpful, though it’s important to remember that time may have significantly changed the landscape. Even with a building, like Chief James Vann’s house in The Witness Tree, the elaborate interior trim-work was only added after my story by the chief’s son. You can’t assume anything. The other people in my tour group were probably rolling their eyes behind my back at my many questions by the time we reached the detached kitchen. LOL!
  • I’ve also been known to attend or participate in the select living history event. Great for sparking sensory detail.

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She is the managing editor of Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Historical Fiction (imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:

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A Visit with Denise Weimer: Editor and Multi-published author

Denise Weimer is my special guest today. She is blessed with two books releasing at the same time in different genres. I had to get to know her better. Welcome Denise, please tell me about your writing journey.

My writing journey began around age 11, when my parents would take me to historical sites around the Southeast. My active imagination wondered what kind of people lived in those old houses and towns and what their lives were like. I started scribbling stories in my spiral-bound notebook in the back seat of the car. Then reading them aloud to my mother, who encouraged me to keep writing.

I received a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. I was almost published by my dream publisher right out of the college—back in the day one could approach publishers directly, without an agent or previous publishing experience—but they’d just committed to a similar series. I set my writing aside as I worked in public relations and as a free-lance magazine writer, then started a family.

When my younger daughter started napping, then attending preschool, I decided I might write a novella. Thus my first book baby, Redeeming Grace, was born. It was followed by The Georgia Gold Series (Eugenia Price-style historical fiction set in Savannah and the mountains during the mid-1800s), The Restoration Trilogy (modern romantic suspense with historical back stories that emerge during a renovation), and Across Three Autumns of The Backcountry Brides Collection.

I loved The Backcountry Brides Collection. My absolute favorite novella was Across Three Autumns.  Your historical imagination kept me engaged. Now, tell me about your latest project.

Backcountry Brides last year was my most recent release, but please check back next month as I share about two novels I’m releasing in September with Lighthouse Publishing, a historical (The Witness Tree – https://www.amazon.com/Witness-Tree-gain-break-heart/dp/1645260623/) and a contemporary (Fall Flip).

While we all wait to hear more about your two new releases and how you research them could you tell us what inspires you to write your stories?

I draw inspiration for my novels from the varied settings in my home state of Georgia—from the mountains to the piedmont to the coast. Add to those all the different time periods, and there are endless possibilities.

For The Restoration Trilogy, watching my parents restore a mid-1800s doctor’s house and apothecary shop provided the nudge. I love the idea of modern characters learning life lessons from history. In the stories, a brooding bachelor and a historical preservation grad uncover artifacts and letters from three different centuries, all while enduring mysterious accidents, fighting about the restoration, and then, of course, falling in love. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B0719FYYLZ/)

There’s another book to put on my TBR pile.  Here is one of my favorite questions to ask authors. If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

“You were right, and your professors were wrong. You don’t have to start your writing career at a newspaper!” LOL. Although I admit, my journalism training has served me well.

In general, I’d say that everyone’s path to publication looks different, these days more than ever. And that’s okay.

I agree.  It’s tough to be  a creative in a world that demands so much of our time. Tell me, who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My author friends, most of whom I’ve not yet gotten to meet in person. It’s such a blessing to know there are so many like-minded individuals out there, even if we are scattered across the county! Most of the doors that have opened in my career have been opened by the grace of ones who have gone before me, like Carrie Pagels and Pegg Thomas, my mentor and co-laborer as managing editor at Smitten Romance.

As writers, we are encouraged to read, what is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Historical romance, although I do also enjoy a fast-paced modern romantic suspense.

Denise, where is your favorite place to write?

At my kitchen island when everyone is gone, with a cup of hot tea at hand and a view out the window of beautiful autumn hardwoods.

Awesome! Denise, thanks so much for stopping by. I’m looking forward to your revisit in September when you share more details about your new releases.

  More about Denise:

Represented by Hartline Literary Agency, Denise Weimer holds a journalism degree with a minor in history from Asbury University. She is the managing editor of Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Historical Fiction (imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) and the author of The Georgia Gold Series, The Restoration Trilogy, and a number of novellas, including Across Three Autumns of Barbour’s Colonial Backcountry Brides Collection. Fall Flip (Candlelight Romance –order on amazon) and The Witness Tree (Smitten – https://www.amazon.com/Witness-Tree-gain-break-heart/dp/1645260623/) release in September. A wife and mother of two daughters, she always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses! Connect with Denise here:

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If you love author interviews and blogs about writerly things please subscribe to receive these posts in your email. Don’t forget Denise will be with me again in September, you don’t want to miss learning how she does research for her historical and contemporary romances.