Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Meet My Fellow Wild Rose Press Author Laura Strickland As She Celebrates The Release of Her New Historical American Romance SLOW TRAIN TO NOWHERE: SEAN

Laura and I are authors with The Wild Rose Press, and when I saw a post about her book, released yesterday, I knew I had to invite her to be my guest here. 

This is my kinda book!

Meet Laura

Multi award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura's mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn't have it any other way.

About SLOW TRAIN TO NOWHERE: SEAN

 Five children from the orphan train. Can the eldest protect the rest?


When Sean Hussey returns to the town where he lived as a boy, it’s with revenge on his mind. He’s made a success of himself out west and intends to get even with the farmer under whose thumb he once suffered. He’ll show mercy only to the others who shared his fate in days gone by, especially sweet Jenny whose memory he still cherishes.

Sarah Rupert hasn’t had it easy growing up as a girl from the orphan train, and as a survivor of shocking abuse. Since the death of her husband, she’s had to support her young son by dubious means. When Sean Hussey comes back into her life it’s a miracle, because he’s the boy she always wanted for her own. Trouble is, Sean just may be in love with another woman.

Excerpt

They talked for a while about the changes in the town and Sean worked on his second drink.

All of a sudden he nodded at the glass in front of her. “Why d’you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Order a drink and just let it sit? You did the same before.”

“I get my drinks for free.”

“But you don’t drink ’em. Why?”

“Want to know the truth?”

His light eyes fastened on her face. “Always.”

“I’m afraid if I start drinking I won’t be able to stop and then the boogie-men from the past will swoop in and get me.”

“Boogie-men?”

“There’s not much keeping them at bay. Just these walls I’ve put up and have to kind of keep in place. If I get tipsy, those walls might fall down.”

He studied her seriously. “Describe these boogie-men to me.”

She didn’t want to. “Can’t. That might invite them in.”

He drew a breath and covered her hand with his where it rested on the table. “Honey—”

“No, Sean. I dare not let ’em in.”

“All right then. I won’t ask nothing more.”

“They’re—they’re like the ones you see in nightmares.”

He shook his head. “I don’t dream much anymore. Used to when we first came here. I used to dream I was back in New York. Running the streets. Looking for my ma.”

“But she died on the way over from Ireland, right?”

“Fancy you remembering that.”

She remembered everything about him.

“Never looked for my pa. Knew where to find him. In a pub. With a glass.” He looked down at his own drink as if startled.

“Right now,” she confided, “I’m living my life for my boy, Luke. All I do is for him.”

“Not for yourself?”

“No.”

“You wanting nothing for yourself—”

Oh, she wanted.

“—don’t seem fair.”

“Were you happy out west, Sean?”

He shrugged uncomfortably. “I don’t think happy describes my state of mind. There were moments when I felt pretty good.”

“Never married?”

“Nah.”

“Never tempted?”

He shook his head.

So he was free. And she was free. For an instant Sarah caught a glimpse of something so wonderful, it dazzled her mind’s eye. He, though, was interested in Jenny, who wasn’t free.

Purchase SLOW TRAIN TO NOWHERE: SEAN

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Thursday, May 9, 2024

Meet Steve Moretti, Author of Deep, Intriguing Time Travel Novels, Featuring MUSIC IS NOT BOUND BY TIME, Book One of the Song For A Lost Kingdom Trilogy

Having written several time travel novels, I'm always drawn to similar stories, and Steve Moretti far exceeded my expectations with MUSIC IS NOT BOUND BY TIME. This story drew me to it not only for the time travel element, but because his heroine Adeena Stuart is a musician. She plays cello and I play piano, but musician stories always connect with me. Meet Steve, read about MUSIC IS NOT BOUND BY TIME, and be sure to check out Books Two and Three of this trilogy, which I look forward to reading.

About Steve

I was a reader long before becoming a writer. 

The feeling of being swallowed whole by a great book is something I treasure. It is my goal with every book I write, to immerse the reader in the story – utterly and completely. 

I am drawn to music and art that transcend time, movies that dont age, and novels that forever embed themselves inside you. 

My writing focuses on artistic creators and the passions that define them, often tragically, men and women who are inspired to the point of obsession with their art. They leave behind creations that render them immortal, free from the constraints of time.

My background in broadcasting, journalism, public education, and the technology business taught me that great accomplishments are the result of individuals who are not limited by limitations or afraid to face what they they most fear. 

I live in Ottawa, Canada, with my wife and a menagerie of dogs and cats. My four young grandchildren keep me in wonder at the mysterious world around us.


About MUSIC IS NOT BOUND BY TIME


A gifted musician, a priceless cello, and a love worth risking everything. A time-travel fantasy powered by music.

Even as a rebellious child, Adeena dreamed of becoming a professional cellist. Driven to perform and to compose, she forsakes almost everything else, sabotaging relationships at the altar of her quest for musical perfection.

But after yet another failed audition, shes had enough. It is time to let go of her dream and get a real life. And then, a new hope arrives from her dying grandmother in Scotland – a lost music score written by an unknown composer in the 18th century.

When Adeena gets an opportunity to perform the lost score on the Duncan Cello, the oldest cello ever created in the United Kingdom, time transforms around her.

She is connected to Katharine, a young cellist living in 1745 Scotland. Both women are attracted to the Duke of Perth, James Drummond, a man history records as doomed to die the following year after the Battle of Culloden.

In Music is Not Bound by Time, the first book in the Song for a Lost Kingdom trilogy, the power of music transcends the limitations of the ordinary world for those who listen through their heart.

A fantasy that will sweep you away. Time travel powered by music.

An Excerpt

 Adeena wasn’t sure what to make of her situation.

An hour ago the music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra was almost a stranger to her, more mythical creature than real person. Now, as she stood beside Friedrich Lang, with the pages of her score spread all over his piano, they were like old comrades.

She surveyed his private practice room. Baffles made the acoustics rich and pure. A row of spotlights lit a line of framed photographs highlighting Friedrich’s career, conducting and performing on stages around the world. One dramatic series of black and white photos captured him in performance at Carnegie Hall, dripping in sweat, entranced in what must have been a sorrowful violin solo.

“Ja! Ja! I see how this will work,” Lang shouted as he played parts of the score on the piano, getting a feel for the tone and tempo and muttering to himself.

Adeena began to worry that his interest was only in the music she had brought him.

“Would you like to hear me play, Mr. Lang?” she finally asked tentatively.

He suddenly stopped, looked up from the piano and stared at her, as if seeing her for the first time. “What?” he asked, focusing on her and then at her cello case, propped up in the corner.  “Yes, of course! Bring your cello over here. Let’s try playing this through, together.”

Adeena felt relieved as she unpacked the cello and lifted it carefully from the case. He stared at the old instrument.

“That’s your cello?” he asked. “No endpin? Where did you get it?”

Adeena felt her heart pounding through her chest like it might expose her at any second. She took a deep breath and spoke carefully.

“It’s the…the Duncan Cello,” she said matter-of-factly. “I work at the National Gallery and I have, uh, well…I have special permission to use it.”

Lang studied her carefully and Adeena wished she could read his thoughts.

“Really? I just saw a story about it on the news.” He examined it more closely and slapped his hands together in hearty approval. “Five million dollars? Scheisse! Okay, you’ve got my attention young lady.”

Lang stood up and moved a wooden stool near the piano. He motioned for her to sit.

“Let’s play, my dear. See what we can do with this piece!”

As the conductor focused on her music, Adeena glanced toward the open cello case and the original copy of the score, sealed in a plastic bag. An image of her grandmother flashed in her mind. She mouthed a silent “thank you” to her.

It had not been easy to “borrow” the Duncan Cello from the National Gallery. Indeed it had required a certain degree of deviousness on her part. But for the moment, cello and musician were together. At last, she could perform the music that seemed a part of who she was with an instrument that felt like it had always belonged to her.

Adeena listened to the opening bars of the music coming from the piano. The conductor was astute. He understood this music instinctively. The effect on his face was clear and his focus profound as his fingers touched the keys. Lang’s head began to sway, directing an invisible orchestra in front of him.

Adeena sat watching him on a wooden stool. She pulled the Duncan Cello between her legs. It somehow felt naturally comfortable. This instrument was her voice, its haunting timbre was able to bestir her nethermost emotions with a depth she had never experienced. It brought release to the creativity imprisoned within her. As she traced her fingers along the smooth wood grain of its weathered fingerboard, a rush of blood pounded within her trembling hands.

Lang looked up from the piano. He seemed entranced as well, as he gave a slight nod of his head for her to begin, closing his eyes to better concentrate on the music.

Adeena tightened her grip, ready to start the dark, timeless tango of cello and cellist.

Slowly, she began to play. As the strands of her taut horse-hair bow glided across the strings of the cello with a lush friction, an odd sensation swept over her. The harmonics of cello and piano combined to create a sense of yearning, enveloping the windowless chamber in a wave of sound that focused the emotions rising within her.

Purchase the Song For A Lost Kingdom Trilogy on Amazon

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Email: steve@stevemoretti.ca 

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Meet Karen Bartell, My Fellow Wild Rose Press Author, and Read About Her Paranormal Romance FOX TALE, Set in Japan

I met Karen when I saw her featured on another author's blog post, and saw that she's also a Wild Rose Press author. We struck up a lively correspondence, are doing blog exchanges, and are reading each other's books. We share our fascination with the paranormal, although I have no ability in that area--I've never seen a ghost. But I do believe.

About Karen

Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, as well as Fox Tale, Kissing Kin, Wild Rose Pass, The Keys: Voice of the Turtle and more, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, IT technical editor, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories steeped in the supernatural. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Texas Piney Woods with her husband Peter and her mews—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.

About FOX TALE

What separates perception from deception―illusion from reality?

Fox Tale is a paranormal romance set in Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan. It’s about a woman who’s terrified of heights. When Chase saves Ava from plunging down a mountain, he diverts her fears with tales of Japanese kitsune—shapeshifting foxes—and she begins a journey into the supernatural.

She’s attracted to Chase, both physically and metaphysically, yet primal instincts urge caution when shadows suggest more than meets the eye.

She’s torn between him and Rafe, her ex, when a chance reunion reignites their passion, but she struggles to overcome two years of bitter resentment. Did Rafe jilt her, or were they pawns of a larger conspiracy? Are the ancient legends true of kitsunes twisting time and events?

****

Background of Fox Tale

My husband works for a Japanese company. When he was instructed to meet with his Tokyo team, I leapt at the chance to accompany him.

The next thing I did was research Japan’s cryptids. What appeared were Inari’s kitsunes or fox spirits—and voilĂ , the idea for Fox Tale was born.

What are Inari’s kitsunes? Japan’s history of foxes is complex.

According to Fox Tale’s leading man, Rafe, “Originally, Inari was the concept of a successful rice harvest. Over time, devotees fleshed out that belief, and Inari became the androgynous god of wealth.”

“And the kitsunes?” asked the protagonist, Ava.

“The relationship has always been cooperative…Initially, foxes kept rice fields free from rodents, ensuring good crop yields. Eventually, people humanized the foxes into guardians and agents.”

While my husband attended meetings, I explored Tokyo, sometimes alone on foot and sometimes with a group tour. I took copious notes, and each site I visited became part of my developing story. With the supernatural element, as well as the locale established, my imagination began taking flight.

I spoke to locals as often as possible, asking if they believed in kitsune--or if their neighbor or grandmother believed in them. (Luckily, many Japanese speak English!) Not one admitted to believing in the old superstitions, but almost all knew of someone who did.

Said Fox Tale’s antagonist, Ichiro, “Most Japanese live in concrete canyons, and rational university educations replace superstition. Still, fox stories persist through theater, festivals, language, and literature…or kiterature as I call it.”

“Despite a waning belief?” I leaned closer.

“Even today, some believe in fox possession…although believing in kitsunetsuki might not be fashionable in this age of supercomputers and artificial intelligence, stories still circulate in the tabloids and mass media.”

“For example?”

“In 2019, a doomsday cult member rammed his car into pedestrians on Takeshita Street, then pled not guilty on the grounds that the cult was fox possessed. And as recently as 2022, the Sessho-seki split in two.”

Skeptical, I squinted. “The what did what?”

“The killing stone…according to legend, it imprisoned an evil nogitsune vixen. Her spirit escaped when it split in half and began spewing sulfur fumes, killing anyone that approached…For over a thousand years, Japanese medical practitioners considered kitsunetsuki a disease. Even into the twentieth century, psychologists believed fox possession caused mental illness.”

“But not anymore…” Crossing my arms, I hugged myself, seeking reassurance. “Right?”

Gathering all the information I could from locals, as well as researching online, the plot for Fox Tale began to take shape. Once I had the realistic component that tied the supernatural to the natural, I had the storyline. Then the characters emerged as the story unfolded in my mind.

When my husband finished his meetings in Tokyo, we visited Kyoto, where we toured Fushimi Inari. The mountain is sacred in the Shinto religion, a place where “deities coexist with nature” and where, some believe, Inari resides.

Fushimi Inari has an ethereal presence. Its otherworldly aura and scenery are difficult to describe, but if anything supernatural could occur, it would happen on that mountain.

While at that shrine, the various parts merged into the basis of Fox Tale: the supernatural element, general locale, plot, characters, and finally the specific location for the otherworldly activity.

Lo and behold, a novel was born.

****

Excerpt

I applied my makeup with an artist’s hand, blending three shades of eyeshadow and going heavy on the mascara. Then I slipped into the black cocktail dress I’d bought for the occasion--a fusion of chic and slutty.

Wish I knew what Rafe planned for my birthday. Dinner at an upscale restaurant? Pub food at a sports bar?

“A surprise,” was all he’d said.

What’s the fine line between dressed to kill and overdressed? Glancing at the mirror, I glimpsed the exposed dĂ©colletage, then examined my naked left hand. More importantly, is tonight the night? After dating for three years, the conversation had finally turned to rings and weddings, and with graduation a month away, I was eager to take the next step.

At six o’clock sharp, I sat by the door, butterflies fluttering in my belly.

Ten minutes passed, fifteen. I texted him. An hour later, I called. When he didn’t pick up, I left a voicemail.

At eight o’clock, I checked my email. No messages, no texts--radio silence.

At nine o’clock, I removed my makeup, the black, smoky taupe, mauve, and greige streaks on the cotton pad mirroring my mood. After showering, I picked at soggy leftovers as I studied my bare left hand. Leftovers…

When the phone dinged, I flinched. Rafe?

Mia--Guess who’s at Tootsie’s? And Rafe’s not alone. What’s going on?--

I sat back, stunned. He wouldn’t break up with me on my birthday--without even the courtesy of telling me--would he?

****

Purchase FOX TALE

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Monday, March 25, 2024

Meet My Guest, Award-Winning Author and Biographer Dr. Helena Schrader

I met Helena on her blog and checked into her books--I was amazed! No wonder she's won multiple awards. I chose a few to read, and it took a while to decide which ones to start with!

Meet Helena and check out her latest series, Bridge To Tomorrow.

About Helena

Dr. Helena P. Schrader is the author of six critically acclaimed non-fiction history books and nineteen historical novels, eleven of which have earned one or more literary awards. She has been an amazon #1 best-selling author in the categories Aviation, Military Fiction, and 20th Century Historical Fiction. She holds a PhD in history from the University of Hamburg, which she earned with a ground-breaking biography of a leader of the German Resistance to Hitler and served as an American diplomat in Europe and Africa.

In Helena's Own Words

Diana, thank you for this opportunity to appear on your blog. Although I’ve been writing since 2nd grade, writing was long a personal passion rather than a profession. I consciously chose not to try to make a living as a novelist because I never wanted to be forced to write what the market wanted rather than what was in my heart. Now, that I’ve retired, writing has moved from the periphery to the center of my focus, which also means I must devote more attention to marketing my books. Guest blogging is a new skill that I am still acquiring!

Over the years, I’ve published novels set in Ancient Sparta, the Crusader States and WWII. My interest in ancient Sparta started when I recognized the sharp contrast between descriptions of Sparta in ancient sources and the depictions of Sparta in modern literature. The archaeological and historical evidence is at odds with popular myths about brutality, militarism and much more. I set to work writing books about Sparta that are more consistent with the ancient sources, and in doing so, I won the acclaim of leading classical scholars. I have been invited to participate in international academic forums on ancient Sparta, and I’m particularly proud that the third book in my Leonidas trilogy has been translated into Greek. The Greek edition was endorsed by the mayor of modern Sparta and well received by Greek scholars and the public.

The history of the crusader states is another area in which popular perceptions are at odds with the historical record. My novels set in the Holy Land during the crusader era seek to show the Crusaders States as they really were: multi-cultural, tolerant, sophisticated crossroads of civilizations in which women enjoyed high status and diverse opportunities. My focus on the crusader states rather than the crusades makes my books quite unique.  

However, I am most “at home” in the 20th century. My first published work in the English language was a comparative study of women pilots in WWII (Sisters in Arms: The Women who Flew in World War Two). This was followed by a comprehensive history of the Berlin Airlift (The Blockade Breakers: The Berlin Airlift). My aviation novels include a novel on the Battle of Britain (Where Eagles Never Flew), and a novel examining the stress of flying for Bomber Command (Moral Fibre). Battle of Britain RAF fighter ace Wing Commander Bob Doe called Where Eagles Never Flew “the best book on the life of us fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain that I have ever seen.” Moral Fibre was hailed by the Foreign Service Journal as a "tribute to those who fought for freedom." 

My current project, Bridge to Tomorrow, is a three-part series on the Russian blockade of Berlin which triggered the largest airlift in aviation history. Although largely forgotten, the Berlin Crisis of 1948-1949 has enormous relevance today. Not only has the invasion of Ukraine demonstrated Russia’s revived aggressive ambitions, but many experts warn that China may seek to regain control of Taiwan via a blockade. Parallels between the incessant use of disinformation to destroy democratic institutions in the Cold War era and the tactics of today’s fascists are all too obvious.

Bridge to Tomorrow conveys the high drama of this crisis where the ideologies and interests of Americans, British, Germans and Russians clashed. It brings to life the men and women who overcame unprecedented challenges to undertake a humanitarian mission — and succeeded in delivering the most spectacular logistical achievement of the 20th century.  In the ruins of Hitler's former capital, enemies became friends because of an aviation experiment that no one — not even its originators — thought could succeed.

The first book in the series, COLD PEACE, which was released in June 2023, sets the stage for the Blockade and Airlift. COLD WAR explores the enormous challenges faced by the Airlift. COLD VICTORY depicts the conclusion of Blockade — and the price paid for Berlin's freedom. COLD PEACE has already won six literary accolades, including runner-up for Book of the Year 2023 from the Historical Fiction Company and GOLD for Historical Fiction from Feathered Quill. COLD WAR is scheduled for release in May of this year.

COLD PEACE: The first battle of the Cold War is about to begin….

Berlin 1948. The economy is broken, the currency worthless, and the Russian bear is hungry. In the ruins of Hitler's capital, war heroes and resilient women struggle in the post-war doldrums. Then a Russian fighter brings down a British passenger plane, and the world teeters on the brink of World War Three. The defenders of freedom must work together to save Berlin from Soviet tyranny. The first battle of the Cold War is about to begin.

Based on historical events, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader brings to life the backstory of the West's bloodless victory against Russian aggression via the Berlin Airlift in COLD PEACE, the first book in the Bridge to Tomorrow Series.

Purchase COLD PEACE on Amazon


COLD WAR:
Fighting a war with milk, coal and candy bars….
 



In the second book of the Bridge to Tomorrow series, the story continues where COLD PEACE left off. Berlin is under siege. More than two million civilians in Hitler’s former capital will starve unless they receive food, medicine and more by air.

USAF Captain J.B. Baronowsky and RAF Flight Lieutenant Kit Moran once risked their lives to drop high explosives on Berlin. They are about to deliver milk, flour and children’s shoes instead. Meanwhile, two women pilots are flying an air ambulance that carries malnourished and abandoned children to freedom in the West. Until General Winter deploys on the side of Russia….

Based on historical events, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader delivers an insightful, exciting and moving tale about how former enemies became friends in the face of Russian aggression — and how close the Berlin Airlift came to failing under the assault of “General Winter.”

Regardless of the setting or subject of my books, I am inspired to write by something beyond me. I cannot choose a topic — it chooses me. Most importantly, I do not create the main characters of my books, they already exist; I am merely their voice. When a character requests me to tell his/her story, I am honored by the trust they have placed in me and feel compelled to write. The goal of all my books is to create works of art that do justice to the people and the messages of those who have selected me as their ambassador.

You can find out more about all my books and awards, read review excerpts or sign up for my newsletters here.

Awards

Her books have won 31 awards and received a total of 56 literary accolades over the last decade. Highlights include Cold Peace being named runner-up for the Historical Fiction Company's prestigious BOOK OF THE YEAR award, a Book Excellence Award for Envoy of Jerusalem as Best Biography, Hemingway Awards for 20th Century Wartime Fiction from Chanticleer International Book Awards for Where Eagles Never Flew in 2021 and for Moral Fibre in 2022. For an overview of awards please visit my website.

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