The Winner of JD’s Christmas Wish is…

10 11 2009

Sherri Buckner

Staci asked me to post this because her computer is still in the hospital. She’ll contact you privately via e-mail about your prize though. Congratulations!





Contest Extended!

3 11 2009

Good news, everyone!

I’m extending the deadline to enter to win a copy of J.D.’s Christmas Wish. My computer crashed today, so I have no way to send the winner the promised “release-day” copy. (I’m on a borrowed computer now.) I’m soooo sorry! So what I’m going to do is extend the contest deadline to Monday, Nov. 9, at midnight. HOPEFULLY, I’ll have my computer back by then!  *crosses fingers* You can either enter a comment on this post or the “Keeping it Together” post.

Good Luck & Happy Reading!

~Staci Culver

jdschristmaswish_w3033_200x300JD’S Christmas Wish
Staci Culver
Last Rose of Summer Miniature Rose
Release Date: 11-4-2009

JD McAaden is scared. His parents fight all the time. As JD writes his letter to Santa, he realizes that he’ll give up everything if only his family can be saved. With the heart-rending innocence of a child, JD pins his faith on elves and the spirit of Christmas.

A mysterious invitation to visit North Pole Village for the holidays is all that is keeping Faith and Taylor McAaden’s marriage together. Faith has promised to give her son one last special outing before she sues for divorce. But in the magic atmosphere of hope, Faith and Taylor learn that love lurks even in the darkest hours and that with JD’s Christmas Wish their family can be made whole again.





Winners Galore

3 11 2009

The blur that is Halloween is past and Thanksgiving is racing toward us while several of us push forward toward a NaNoWriMo deadline.

We have three winners from the October contest.

WidowsPeak_w1019_680

The winner of  Widow’s Peak is Beth C

GotWolf_w4352_300bunnyb will get a copy of Got Wolf Volume 1

WishForTheMoon_w2712_680

And the copy of Wish for the Moon goes to Judy Cox

 

 

 

We’ll be in touch shortly to get your prizes out to you.





Keeping it Together

2 11 2009

As the whirlwind season for family get-togethers nears, I can’t help but sit back and dread—uh, I mean ponder—how I’m going to manage to keep up all my obligations, both for my writing career and for my family. The balancing act isn’t easy during the best of times, but the holidays…man, talk about Stress-Fest Extreme!

Writing is, for the most part, a solitary art. Yes, it takes an entire team to actually polish and publish a book, but the creative part, where stories are formed and crafted, is a single-person exercise in fruition and frustration. Mostly frustration. =) I’m lucky to have a spouse who supports me in my writing dream and who watches the kiddos so I can have time to go deep into my mind, to the place where stories hatch.

But just because he supports me, that doesn’t mean we don’t get into fights about it. Sometimes, I want more time to write on days that “aren’t” mine. Sometimes, he wants to go on a last-minute motorcycle cruise with his friends on one of “my” days. Still, we work through it…some situations more easily than other, lol.

Not all couples, however, are so lucky. In my November 4, release, J.D.’s Christmas Wish, Faith and Taylor McAden have let their careers and desire for advance in the workplace get in the way of their relationship. The one most affected…their son J.D. A marriage that was once rock-solid is running on its last gallon of gas and all because no one bothered to stop and refill the tank. Everyone loses.

Yes, I know these are fictional characters, but their story is an all-too familiar one these days, and as we barrel into the New Year, maybe we should all take the time to slow down and reevaluate what’s really important. Ya know…like winning free books!  =)

To kick things off this month, I’m giving away a copy ofJ.D.’s Christmas Wish. All you have to do is comment on THIS blog post by midnight tomorrow (Nov 3), and I’ll pick a winner to receive a release-day copy of my debut novella! In addition, at the end of the month, we’re going to give away a copy of Hanna’s debut novel Widdow’s Peak and Delilah Marvelle’s Lord of Pleasure. As always, to be entered, just make a comment on any of our November posts.

Good luck!

~Staci Culver

JDsChristmasWishJD’S Christmas Wish
Staci Culver
Last Rose of Summer Miniature Rose
Release Date: 11-4-2009

JD McAaden is scared. His parents fight all the time. As JD writes his letter to Santa, he realizes that he’ll give up everything if only his family can be saved. With the heart-rending innocence of a child, JD pins his faith on elves and the spirit of Christmas.

A mysterious invitation to visit North Pole Village for the holidays is all that is keeping Faith and Taylor McAaden’s marriage together. Faith has promised to give her son one last special outing before she sues for divorce. But in the magic atmosphere of hope, Faith and Taylor learn that love lurks even in the darkest hours and that with JD’s Christmas Wish their family can be made whole again.





Halloween Costumes Gone Amok!

17 10 2009

I just love Halloween. Don’t you? Come on…what other time of year can you pretend to be someone else and not have people stare at you like you just escaped from the nearest sanitarium? Wait…did I just reveal something I shouldn’t have about myself? 🙂  Yes, I’m 30, and I still love dressing up! It’s even more fun for me now because I get to dress up my kids, too. This year, the kiddos are going as animals. My youngest daughter’s going as a spider (an absolutely CUTE spider, btw) and my oldest girl is going as a pink flamingo. They’re going to fit right in at ‘Boo at the Zoo’! I can’t wait, but I still haven’t figured out what my hubby and I are going to go as…

I’ve scoured the internet for ideas (instead of writing, shh!), and let me tell you, I’ve found some…doozies. so, in the spirit of the season, I thought I’d share my top five “favorites” with you guys…

trouser snake charmer

trouser snake charmer

twister costume

twister costume

hammered costume

hammered costume

plug & socket couple

plug & socket couple

Wet T-Shirt Winner

Wet T-Shirt Winner-the obviously fake boobs just crack me up!

Hmm…does anyone else notice a theme here…? Most of these are sexual in nature. Wonder what that says about me? Better yet…I probably shouldn’t ponder that question, should I, LOL? 🙂

Anyway, don’t forget to comment on any of our October posts to be entered in October’s contests! Good luck & Happy Halloween!

Jordyn James





Samhain Song

5 10 2009

samhain1Bet you didn’t know that if you celebrate Halloween, you are part of a history that goes back at least 6000 years. Archeologists have made many discoveries of different celebrations around the Halloween time of year.

Around 4000 B.C.E., prehistoric tribes divided their year into two parts. In what we call spring, somewhere near around the beginning of May, the sun was warm and bright and the earth came alive with greenery. During this light half of the year, domestic animals were turned out to graze and food was plentiful. In the fall, around the time of our Halloween, days were short and the earth died. In the dark half of the year, the animals and food were gathered up and protected against the dangers of darkness with special fire ceremonies to appease the earth spirit so she would return and to ward off troubsome spirits who loved the dark.

samhain2Moving forward, the Early Celts populated the European continent. Around 350 B.C.E. they brought their skill at animal husbandry and their culture and religion to Ireland and Britain. They celebrated four fire festivals, Candlemas, Beltainne, Lughnasad, and Samhain(pronounced sav-en in Scot Gaelic orsow-een in Welsh Gaelic). The Samhain festival marks the passing of the light, but more importantly it is the end of the Celtic year. The cycle of time in the Celtic belief system allowed for two times during the year when the veil between the living and the dead was lifted. Beltainne was one and Samhain was the other. The Celts did not fear their dead and so welcomed the time when those who had passed to Tir na n’Og (the Celtic afterlife), might return.  They left food for their ghostly visitors as a welcoming gesture. This is believed to have lead to the practice of giving out treats on Halloween night. The hope was that those who returned would provide information about the past or the future. By doing this deed for the living, the dead could earn “brownie points” towards moving up the reincarnation cycle. So Samhain was a time of thanks and blessings.

Green-Fairy-absinthe-430052_400_487But what about all the scary stuff associated with Samhain? While the Celtic mythos did not include demons and devils as such, they did believe in the Faery Folk.  Elves weren’t evil, but were best left alone. Fairies, who lived in underground mounds called sidhe (pronounced shee) were thought to feel resentment toward the humans that forced them to inhabit the underground. On the days when these afterlife inhabitants could overcome the veil separating the worlds, faeries were thought to roam the countryside making mischief and even kidnapping a human or two, just for fun. Yet there are a few records of humans that never returned.

The festival lasted for three days. One night and day to honor and thank the Earth for her bounty, one night and day to rekindle the flame and night and day to honor the dead.

So whether you celebrate, Samhain, Halloween, All Saints Day, or Day of the Dead, you are part of a long rich history of late autumn celebrations.

In honor of this Samhain, I’m giving away a copy of my debut GotWolf_w4352_300novel, Widow’s Peak and a copy of the new anthology from the Wild Rose Press Got Wolf, featuring novellas by Helen Hardt and Ria Ellis. To enter just leave a comment on any of the weekly posts throughout the month of October. We’ll draw a winner at 11:59pm on Samhain Eve.





Another Month, Another Contest…

1 10 2009

Another month has come to a close. October’s chilling fall winds are just around the corner, and we know what that means. Time to break out the windbreakers as we prepare to attend those fall festivals, fairs, hay rides, and let’s not forget one of my personal chocolate-overdosing activities, trick-or-treating.

Halloween, All Hollow’s Eve, Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day, All Saints Day…. Whatever you personally call it, it’s a holiday celebrated by many countries around the world, by different cultures, in different ways, and for slightly different reasons. Throughout the month, we’ll be discussing some of these traditions and their origins, starting with Hanna’s post next Monday on Samhain—not the publisher!—because our October theme is everything Halloween. Nothing is off limits this month! (Okay, maybe not nothing, lol.)

100_1220

My daughter's (Autumn) 2nd Halloween. She was a "bundle" bee.

Not only will we be sharing a little bit about the origins of the holiday, we want to know what Halloween means to YOU and your family. What traditions do you have? Favorite memories? Costumes you or your kids wore? We’d love to know! As always, we’ve got great prizes to give away this month, including a copy of Hanna’s newly released book and an indulgent chocolate gift basket! Check back soon for more details and more prizes!

In the meantime, start posting those Halloween stories. To get us started, here’s a couple interesting Halloween traditions from around the world! (Courteously of http://www.novareinna.com/festive/world.html)

Germany: people hid their knives because they didn’t want to harm the returning spirits.

Ireland: Children like to play lots of tricks on their neighbors, one of which is called “knock-a-dolly.” Children knock on neighbor’s doors then haul ass.

Sweden: the Friday prior to All Saints Day is a shortened work day and kids get a school-free day! (Wouldn’t we all love that.)

Your turn…

~Staci





A Family of Heroes

21 09 2009

I’m sure you all know that to us writers, our characters are almost like our children. We lovingly watch them grow and change and become outstanding people. So far the tales of the Scorpion Moon Trilogy have come out as the hero’s tale. I’ve learned that hero can mean very different things in different people.

In Book 1, Widow’s Peak, I started out with a not so shiny champion. Life has not been good to Alaine de la Vierre. This medieval bad boy was one of the best assassins in Europe. Successful as a troubadour, and popular with the ladies at the court of King Henry II, Laine has the perfect cover for his nefarious profession. And the profession provides him a chance for the thing he wants most. Revenge. But like all good heroes, something makes him want out. What, you may ask could turn a deadly assassin into a hero? Why love, of course. Laine discovers that love and kindness have more to offer him than revenge. First he discovers the love of a family, then he discovers the love of a good woman. What more could a bad boy need?

In Kissed By A Rose, Book 2 in the series, my hero is the total opposite of the hero of Book 1. Sir James Barnard has always had everything in life. A member of the Norman nobility, Jamie has been raised in a loving family and given every advantage. When his father is killed in the Holy Land, Jamie determines to become what his father was, a knight of renown.  He is successful in becoming a favored knight in King Henry’s court, but finds he is missing the most important thing his father had, a fulfilling life. I’m in the process of writing Book 2, so Jamie is still making that journey toward finding fulfillment, but I know his heroine will give him what he needs. It is romance, after all.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, from all kinds of backgrounds. Christian, the hero of Book 3, Until the End of Time, is still taking shape in my mind’s eye, but I’m sure that love will find him in the end.

WidowsPeak_w1019_680I can’t believe that the release day for Widow’s Peak is almost here! In just two more days, Amye and Laine (my heroine and hero) finally get to make their debut.  Here’s a short excerpt:

The ride from the glen up the ridge found the hunting party in good spirits. They had taken several animals, including a young boar that had been disrupting the peace of the flocks. Siward made the shot that had taken the pig. Amye liked to reward the most successful hunter with a small prize at supper.

“What reward would an unmarried knight like?” she thought to herself. Her question was interrupted by a great rustling from the trees above her. The party came to a halt as branches and leaves began to tumble to the ground.

Two men crashed through the canopy and landed with a loud thump against the forest floor. Her mount wheeled away, but Amye turned the horse back toward the melee. One of the men had risen and now looked her straight in the eyes. He seemed about to run but suddenly dropped to his knees and fell face forward into the moss of the forest floor.

Amye quickly slid from Jester’s back and hurried toward the fallen stranger. Her men, not far behind, surrounded her before she could get to the bodies. Gervais pulled her away.

“My lady, stay back. These men may be dangerous.”

“They are obviously injured,” Amye tossed back.

Gervais knelt between the men and placed two fingers against the neck of the one who had nearly run away.

“He is still alive.” He turned and checked the other. “This one, however, is dead.”

Amye sighed and made the sign of the cross over her heart. “Well, at least we can help the living,” she said.

“My lady, you know nothing about this man. He could be a thief or a murderer,” Gervais countered.

She studied the countenance of the fallen man. Though a deep purple bruise had begun to swell on his cheek, his face was quite handsome.

“I have seen him somewhere before, but I cannot think where. What if he is someone important?”

Folding his arms across his chest, Gervais looked at her with a piqued expression, but she ignored him and inched closer to get a better look at the man lying on the ground.

“From the looks of him, I don’t think he will be able to hurt us for a while yet. I do know he is injured and he is on my land. That makes me responsible for him.” She gave her old friend the look of resolve that said she had made up her mind.

Finally, he uncrossed his arms, but his face still frowned in disapproval. “William, take Lady Barnard back to the castle. Bring the cart back for them.” Gervais nodded toward the motionless bodies. “Half of you come with me. We shall search the woods to see if there are others. The rest of you wait here.”

****

Laine crawled up out of the darkness, but did not open his eyes until he felt the cool wet cloth covering them. His head ached like the devil and confusion filled his thoughts as he came to realize that he rested on a soft feather bed and not on the hard forest floor. Where am I? How have I come here?

He did recall that when he reached the manor, the gate was shut and the guards had refused entry to a lone stranger. He had returned to the forest that ran along the ridge, hoping to avoid the assassin for one more night.

He reached up, lifted the cloth, and peeked at his surroundings. A lone candle penetrated the darkness of the room. Laine rose up on his elbows to see if he could determine his situation. A bad mistake. His head ached even more and began to spin.

“Wait, lie still.” A woman’s hands reached out and helped him lie back. “You took quite a fall. You were lucky though.”

A beautiful oval face leaned close, as she pulled the bedcover up around him.

“Your companion broke his neck. I’m sorry there was nothing we could do for him. You rest. We will speak anon.”

She turned to rewet the cloth and placed it back over his forehead. The coolness helped to stop the spinning, and he breathed a deep sigh of relief. He had been able to best his opponent.

Laine closed his eyes. At least he did not have to worry about assassins for the moment. It would take some time for them to discover what happened and send someone else. For the first time in many months, he could rest easy, which he promptly did.

In a special release day contest I’m giving away three special prizes. A $10 Amazon gift certificate, an autographed copy of Widow’s Peak, and a beautiful pewter necklace I brought back from my trip to Wales last spring.  Winners will also be entered in the Super Contest that I’m holding over at my personal blog, Never Too Late For Love.

All you have to do to enter is between now and 11:59 on September 23rd, leave a comment on this post about what kind of hero you like best and why.  Do you like a knight in shining armor, or do you prefer a reformed bad boy? An action adventure hero or the nice guy next door? At Midnight on Thursday September 24th, I’ll pick three winners from the commenters.

WidowsPeak_w1019_680Widow’s Peak  Available  Now in Print  from The Wild Rose Press and at Amazon.com

Available in e-book format September 23rd from The Wild Rose Press





Part two–Taming the Beast

18 09 2009
The healing powers of nature

The healing powers of nature

When thinking about what makes the perfect hero, the following comes to my mind: intelligence, courage, compassion, sex appeal, etc.  But for a Beauty & the Beast-themed story, where would the Beast be without Belle? Her influence over him helps him make the change from a miserable creature to a man–complete in every sense of the word.

Belle is a hero in her own right. Much like the heroine in my time-travel romance, Wish for the Moon.  Optimistic, buoyant, and friendly, Carrie Greer is the complementary opposite to Matthias Thorne’s reclusive beast. She’s an expert herbalist and small business entrepreneur. But her biggest obstacle in life is the only thing she can’t change: her health.

Carrie is an epileptic.

My sister-in-law Jennifer was a helpful source of inspiration for writing about Carrie. No shrinking violet herself, she has battled and endured her disability her entire life. Her multiple treatments and their side-effects have caused Jennifer setbacks but never changed her positive attitude.

Southern “belle” Carrie is determined to find the rare herb chronicled by medieval monks as a cure for seizures–an herb long-thought extinct until its rebirth during archeological excavations on Matthias’s property in Wales.  Little does she know the fearsome welcome that awaits behind the crumbling ancient walls.

Her physical appearance contradicts her attitude. Though she may appear frail, she has the stubbornness and heart of a Celtic warrior, herself!

Wish for the Moon

Wish for the Moon

Read an excerpt below:

With his hands on his hips, Matthias gave the attendants a sour look, and they scampered out immediately.

“Matthias,” Carrie crooned softly, “you know you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean, Miss Scarlett?” he drawled mockingly.

She grabbed his hand and pulled him down to the bed, grinning. “It means, if you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice to you.”

He lifted a brow. “And how many men have you commanded?” His hands closed around her waist as he lowered a kiss to her neck.

Dying to touch him, she loosened his tunic and ran her fingers underneath the fabric, skimming

across his skin. “One.”

Win a Soothing Lavender Spa Basket plus a signed copy of Wish for the Moon!!!

Win a Soothing Lavender Spa Basket plus a signed copy of Wish for the Moon!!!

As today is the Official Release Day of Wish for the Moon, I am giving away a fantastic basket of lavender spa products which Carrie would heartily approve of, along with a signed copy of Wish for the Moon in a drawing. All you have to do to get your name in the drawing is to answer the following questions and/or post a  comment:  What characteristics do you like to see in a heroine/hero? In your opinion, do their imperfections make them less heroic or more? If you read last Monday’s post, Taming the Beast pt 1, and commented on both parts, you’ll get two entries in the contest today! Double the chance of winning!!

I’ll post the winners this Saturday at midnight.  Good luck!

Sandra

–author of Wish for the Moon, available now at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.





Taming the Beast

13 09 2009
Wish for the Moon

Wish for the Moon

Our month-long discussion about heroes continues….Plus, a MAJOR new contest!!!!

Beauty & the Beast is my all-time favorite fairy tale. In real life, it’s a common fantasy–a girl who hopes her love will be the thing that tames a beast. I admit I love a great brooding hero with lots of faults–a character who’s perfectly imperfect! But hey–let’s face it, some men are hopeless, unchangeable, and all the love in the world won’t make them turn from their bad ways. Their women are left frustrated and brokenhearted.

I thank goodness for the world of romance novels where we can escape the hard reality of life and embrace a fantasy where the hero can begin as  a cold, stubborn cad–who melts like snow in July on the hood of a black Corvette for the lady who holds his heart. Take the hero of my new time-travel romance, for example.

Let me introduce you to Matthias Thorne. As far as looks go, he originated completely from my imagination. Sorry, there’s no single actor for me to thank for his creation. Let’s just say in real life he would look a little like Gerard Butler meets Johnny Depp and have a clipped accent like Alan Rickman.  Once a young romantic knight, Matthias became dry, reserved, and miserable over the course of time–due to the circumstances that drove him from his home and his family, and into a life of solitude. Now you tell me, is he unworthy of love? Or does the heart of chivalry beat deep within the warrior, waiting for the right woman to warm his cold exterior?

Read an excerpt below, leave a comment, and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of the book which is being released this Friday. Come back that day when I blog about heroines, leave another comment, and you’ll receive 2 entries to win a prize basket containing some lovely soothing lavendar spa products!!

Silhouetted by lamplight, Matthias Thorne stood with his back to them, bracing his hands on the stone mantel of the hearth. His dark hair fell in waves to his shoulders. Beneath the tight white fabric of a damp dress shirt, the muscles of his broad back were plainly visible. As if a dark sorcerer contemplating the fate of the world, he stared into the black pit. Finally, he spoke, “What is it, Nigel?”

The caretaker turned the stereo volume down. A lump formed in Carrie’s throat. “I found this lady on the grounds, sir. She says she knows you.”

Thorne glanced sharply over his shoulder. His eyes glinted. “What the hell are you doing here?”  The room echoed under the weight of his barked demand. He rounded on them, his mercurial glare passing over Carrie.

The gatekeeper answered, “I found her near the gatehouse. Her bicycle is parked by the road, sir. She says all she wants is to see the grounds. I can show her around and let her straight out, if you like…”

Thorne waved a dismissive hand in the air, silencing poor Nigel. The man could do more communicating without talking than anyone she’d ever met. He strode toward them, a gothic nightmare. Light and shadow fell across his face as he drew near, and his eyes gleamed with outrage. He obviously wasn’t used to people challenging his orders.

Thorne stopped in front of them. “That’s exactly what Miss Greer came for, Nigel. I’d rather not give her the satisfaction,” he replied smoothly.

Is this man truly incorrigible…or a beast about to be tamed?

iStock_000007219253Small

Best Wishes,

Sandra

Wish for the Moon available in print and ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Wild Rose Press.