Tag Archives: guest blogger

CentreStage with Elle Amberley: Music and Books, English and French, Lyrical yet Tough…

Welcome to CentreStage!

CentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world. These authors might talk to you about their books, their writing, their writing process, their likes or dislikes, their inspiration… or anything else that takes their fancy.

Today it is my tremendous pleasure to welcome the talented Elle Amberley. Elle shares my love for music and writing, so she’s written a very powerful, very intriguing post for my blog today. Give it up for… Elle Amberley!

Music and books, a never-ending love story

Books and music saved me from childhood despair, uplifting me and carrying me to a universe of my own. Marry this with an imagination often rebuked by adults, is it any wonder I became who I am today. An author who doesn’t like neat labels, who likes to experiment and write whatever bubbles up at the back of an overactive brain. I’m still looking for the pause button, the one to still my mind when I lay in bed unable to sleep despite extreme fatigue. When the fire rages on, the only way is to let the words pour out.

Words have saved me as an adult too, allowing me to part with a painful past, to clear my mind of all the negativity. Talking about dramas, small or bigger, is a powerful way to break away from all the vicious circles and help others. When I experienced profound grief a few years ago, music brought back the bubbles and so did French. I found myself able to express what I couldn’t in a language I picked up as a child, the start of my rebirth.

Being reminded of who I once was helped me to fight back. If you’ve survived once, you can do it again, my inner child screamed at me. So I found myself picking up Natasha’s story, a novel laying dormant in a corner of my mind. Natasha is a fighter, too proud at times, too independent, even if she’s longing for someone to love her and be there for her.

A British teenager, she travels to California, desperate to escape her only too real ghosts. In Nowhere Left to Hide, she finds herself and love, but refuses to take the easy way out. We catch up with her years later in Lost in Your Time. Heartbroken, she survives only for her children’s sake. But is this one battle too many?

Can she keep saying no to the handsome French rock star she is drawn to? She tells him it’s impossible. “Impossible is not a French word,” he counters back. Ah, she’d forgotten this old French saying. If only it was that easy.

All these years ago I let my mind wander reading stories and listening to music. Imagine my joy and emotion the first time a reader wrote to me to tell me how they had been transported to a better place, moved by my words. This is always the most precious compliment anyone can pay me, the thought that somehow I helped someone whom I’ve never met through a dark hour, or two. I do get a lot of mail from my readers, I never share the private messages, but they always touch me. This is something I feel very strongly about, respecting the privacy of my readers. As I wrote this post my publisher emailed me a review of From Me to You. I posted it further down, you will see why it made me smile, and no, I never get tired of hearing from my readers. Indeed, I feel honoured. Thank you to all who take the time to share a little bit of their lives or just want to say hi from time to time.

Years ago I wrote a few songs, I thought it was just for fun. Well, it turned into a bit more than that. And yes, I’m also writing songs in French. An anthology of my French poems has also been released recently.

I relish the challenge of writing in both languages, it sparks new ideas and broadens my style, twisting words in a different way. My style is different in French, sometimes more edgy. This edgier streak can be found in some of my poems too. Dark Tales, my next collection of short stories, follows this pattern and will soon be up for release.

So there you are, a little bit of me. Thanks for reading me and I hope to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and the likes.

Do I have more novels laying dormant at the back of my mind? You bet!

Awesome ~ This is such a powerful post and it puts your novels into context (musical and otherwise) beautifully. I, for one, can’t wait to see what you come up with next. Thank you for sharing, Elle! Now let’s take a look at the official Elle Amberley.

Introducing Elle Amberley and her work

A prolific author, Elle Amberley writes Women’s Fiction, Literary, poetry, short stories and features under different pen names.

Elle’s particular strength is writing positive stories with a strong theme of being lost and finding yourself again. Although she broaches difficult subjects in her novels, the characters turn out to be fighters, not victims. Every emotion is conveyed and her style has been described as “lyrical” and appeals to a wide age group, which is a rarity.

Having overcome many obstacles in her life, including a very difficult childhood, she chose to reconstruct her life. Rather than writing a memoir like many abuse victims she prefers to marry fiction with some of her own experiences.

LOST IN YOUR TIME  

Ah, the dangers of the internet! We’ve all been warned, but do we take notice?

When Natasha clicks on a link, her whole life is turned upside down. A flash from the past, a chance meeting with a gorgeous French rock star…

A chance to start over and forget the pain and misery from the last two years.

But can Natasha let go? Will she accept this new twist in her life?

Will she regain her “joie de vivre”? Or will the sparks fizzle out?

Cover blurb, courtesy of Jae De Wylde, author of The Thinking Tank.

Rock star or husband – which would you choose?

Elle’s chatty and engaging style invites us in to share Nat’s thoughts and feelings as she comes to terms with another of life’s twists. Will she choose happiness or duty? Or are they one and the same?

NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE

Natasha has fled her home many times. When she’s offered the chance to go to California, she can’t wait. Thousands of miles to free herself from her past. She might even find love if she can shed her last fears.

Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes romantic, a story of hope, fighting against the odds & the determination to do the right thing.

“A heartfelt tale, told with a deft touch.” Rowan Coleman, author

“Lyrical from start to finish, Elle Amberley embraces the essence of women and friendship in Nowhere Left to Hide. Natasha, a young poet and writer, is wise beyond her years, as she lets us accompany her on her year long journey from England to the sunny coast of Southern California as she finds courage, her true calling and love.” ~ Ana Lewis, Founder, WomenontheVerge.net

FROM ME TO YOU

Elle says: This a review my publisher found on Amazon. Thank you so much to the lovely reader who took time to post this, it brought a smile on my face and makes it all worthwhile.

Elle Amberley’s new collection of poetry is an honest, emotive and sometimes gritty depiction about life and love and evoked a variety of emotions in me, particularly ‘I Knew You Already’ which describes the strong bonds of motherhood even through pregnancy, sickness and fear, right to that moment when you finally hold your infant and you do indeed recognise them.

There are glimmers of humour in her work and a great deal of empathy and honesty. The short sharp sentences bring home the pains, joys and angsts of self hatred, falling in love and a changing troubled world, giving plenty of food for thought.

No matter how you feel you will find a poem that suits your mood in this excellent collection; from the very serious Mad World to the tongue in cheek Express Yourself.

These are poems that will stay with you and have you re reading them and finding something new to ponder over or smile about each time.

A delight to read and consider and I look forward to reading future collections.

Wow, Elle: what an endorsement. Congratulations!!

And finally… here are all the place where you can find Elle:

Elle Amberley Author; Elle Amberley Blog Elle Amberley Facebook; Elle Amberley Twitter; Elle Amberley Amazon UK; Goodreads profile; Mood boards for Elle’s novels

So… a lyrical writer with fighter heroines tackling difficult issues; an author versed in French and English and associating different moods and experiences with each. What an intriguing post! 

Do let’s talk about heroines. Do you prefer fighters, or damsels in distress? Do you write fighters, or damsels in distress? Or both?

CentreStage with Stephanie Keyes: The Ultimate Star Child Playlist

Welcome to CentreStage!

CentreStage features wonderful authors from around the world. These authors might share with you stories about their lives, their books, their journeys or anything else that inspires them. Today, it is my tremendous pleasure to welcome fellow loveahappyending.com and totally-up-for-impromptu-singing-sister, Stephanie Keyes. Are you ready? Hold on to your seatbelts, here comes a rockin’ post!

The Star Child Music Playlist

As you all know, one of the great things that the lovely Nicky Wells and I have in common is our love of music. So I thought I would talk about that very thing today. I had some great music on my playlist for The Star Child, so let me walk you through some key parts of the book and share the music that influenced me.

Kellen Meets Calienta

Into the Fire by Thirteen Senses

Kellen and Calienta have known each other for almost all of Kellen’s life, but it had only been in dreams. Until Kellen meets her face-to-face and she pulls him into a world of magick and mystery in a fight to save the world and themselves. As they fall deeper in love is as if they’re walking straight into the fire.

 Kellen and Stephen

Caring Is Creepy by The Shins

Kellen goes to visit Stephen after his graduation and finds him oblivious to the fact that Kellen even graduated on that day. Kellen makes a conscious effort after that point not to care about Stephen and seeks only a measure of “closure” in visiting him.

First Kiss

You Are Mine by  MUTEMATH

Stuck in a thunderstorm of Lugh’s making, Kellen and Calienta run for cover and share their first kiss.

Kellen’s Confession

Postcards From Far Away by Coldplay

After sneaking into Faerie under the cover of night, Kellen confesses his love to Calienta.

The Trooping Faeries

Night of the Hunter by 30 Seconds To Mars

With the Hounds of the Hill after him and a troupe of Trooping Faeries not far behind, Kellen finds himself on a run through time to find Calienta and save his love. There was no better song to embody the section than the 30 Seconds to Mars hit.

Gharda

Go Do by Jonsi

As Gharda’s powerful wings carry Kellen through dimensions of the Faerie world and back to Calienta, Jonsi’s pure voice embodies flying through the clouds.

The White Stag

Sonata for Two Clarinets by Richard Stolzman

Kellen and Calienta move through the birch tree forest in search of the White Stag, the only one that can lead them to The Upside-Down Ocean. As they move through the ghostly trees, the haunting melody of the clarinet seems to embody the journey.

Kellen’s Sacrifice

Fix You by Coldplay

The White Stag, having reclaimed Kellen’s soul, fights the unforgiven as Kellen fights his way towards his love. Oooh! If you could only see the picture in my mind here!

If you’ve picked up your copy of the book, you also know that I wrote music for the book itself (check out the last pages 309-310). As I write this, I haven’t had the time and resources to have that recorded, but hope to one day.

In the meantime, enjoy these popular tunes and thanks to Nicky for hosting me today!

Stephanie, you are so very welcome. How could I resist a post like this, with all this music? (But, **whispers** where’s Bonnie? Total Eclipse? That song?? Just kidding)

Are you intrigued, my friends? You can listen to Stephanie’s amazing playlist in its entirety here

About The Star Child

The world is about to be cloaked in darkness. 
Only one can stop the night.

Kellen St. James has spent his entire life being overlooked as an unwanted, ordinary, slightly geeky kid. That is until a beautiful girl, one who has haunted his dreams for the past eleven years of his life, shows up spinning
tales of a prophecy. Not just any old prophecy either, but one in which Kellen plays a key role.

Suddenly, Kellen finds himself on the run through a Celtic underworld of faeries and demons, angels and gods, not to mention a really ticked off pack of hellhounds, all in order to save the world from darkness. But will they make it in time?

You can buy the book here

About Stephanie Keyes

Stephanie Keyes holds an undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems as well as a Master’s in Education. A seasoned, facilitator, Stephanie worked in Training and Development for an international telecommunications corporation for twelve years; spending the first eight years of her career as a Software Trainer and Technical Writer and the last four working in Human Resources and Employee Development.

In May of 2012, Stephanie left the corporate world to focus on her family and her writing full-time. She also operates a freelance graphic and instructional design business, Sycamore Road Design.

Inkspell Publishing released her first novel, The Star Child, on September 21, 2012. The Fallen Stars, the second book in The Star Child series, is slated for an April 2013 release, also with Inkspell Publishing. She is currently at work on the third book in The Star Child series.

Stephanie lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and Riley the dog.

Visit Stephanie on her website or at loveahappyending.com. Stephanie is on Facebook and Twitter, too!

So… over to you! Do you have a favourite among Steph’s songs? What about your own playlist ~ do you have one?

 

Hall of Fame launch party with Linn B. Halton and J.K. Hogan

Roll out the red carpet!
Open the champagne!
It’s time to enter the Hall of Fame!

Yes, today it’s a double celebration as not one but two of my amazing fellow authors over at Sapphire Star Publishing celebrate the launch day for their books.  Meet Linn B. Halton and J. K. Hogan!  Pour yourself a cuppa (or something sparkly, if it’s late enough in the day!), sit back and enjoy as you get to meet these exciting new authors…

STOP PRESS! Just had news that the lovely Linn B. Halton can’t be with us today as she is currently touring Europe:

So she’s asked Hilary Marks from The Restaurant @ The Mill to visit on her behalf…

Welcome, Hilary!

Hello Nicky – it’s fantastic to meet you!  My name is Hilary Marks and stepping in for Linn B Halton.  As you say, Linn’s on a tour of Europe at the moment, the lucky thing!  Some big wedding anniversary celebration, so it’s all rather romantic – castles, a chateau here and there …

Anyway, I’ve come to tell you a little bit about The Restaurant, it’s out now and is published by Sapphire Star Publishing.

Nicky: Yes, tell us more about The Restaurant. What’s the story here?

Why did Ben and I open a Restaurant?  Well, it’s a long story and it’s the reason why Linn began writing this novel.  Let’s just say Ben and I both have things from the past that mean it’s hard to let go. I wish it wasn’t like that, but that’s life.  However, the wonderful thing is that The Restaurant @ The Mill is our dream and it’s thriving.  It’s been very hard work and it hasn’t all been easy, but the building itself lends an ambience and with Ben’s brilliance as a chef … well, we’re both very proud of what we have achieved.

Nicky: But it’s not just about you and Ben, is it? I gather there are plenty of things going on!

Ah, you want to know about the other ‘stories’ within this story ….

Well, we have some lovely regulars and then, of course, there is Sadie, our head waitress.  She’s learning the trade and although she’s very new I think she’s going to do very well.  She has this ‘friend’ Sam, she’d like him to be a boyfriend really but it’s complicated.  He used to be her sister’s boyfriend before her sister had a serious accident.  The story of Sadie’s sister Mya is told in Linn’s novel, Touched By The Light, which is a psychic romance.  It’s both sad and uplifting, but it left Sadie and Sam with an awkward association, they still rely upon each other so much.  I’m sure we’ll find out what happens before we get to the last page of The Restaurant.

There’s Thomas too, he’s a friend of mine – very attractive, very wealthy and very lonely.  Funny how when we look at other people’s lives we tend to focus on the successful bits and don’t always see the heartache they hide so cleverly.

Isobel and David live nearby and often come to dine.  Isobel is a writer and after a lifetime of bringing up her family it’s how her time to devote to her passion!  The problem is that whilst David is the love of her life, he’s decided to take early retirement and I get the feeling he’s often in the way … I hope they do sort it out.  They are a lovely couple, I’d hate to see them drift apart at this stage in their lives.

Charlotte and Nick are struggling. They might be newlyweds and having their first baby, but life is taking its toll on them.  Nick was involved in an accident and it’s changed him – I wonder if Charlotte will ever get back the ‘Nick’ with whom she fell in love …

Now Grace is a fabulous lady, she’s a medium and features on the TV programme ‘Spirits Live’.  This rather distinguished gentleman seems to have come into her life, his name is Lawrence and it’s obvious they’ve known each other really well in the past…

Nicky: What a colourful cast! I have to confess to having met them all by now and I’m totally wrapped up in their stories. But someone is still  missing, right?

You want to know about Sarah?  There isn’t very much I can tell you, the spirit of Sarah wanders the Mill and when we bought it the previous owners warned us of her presence.  She doesn’t trouble us at all, although she’s often felt by people who come to visit us.  I haven’t seen her myself, but I think Ben has  – I’m sure Linn knows all about that!

Nicky: Well, well, I’ll just have to read on to find out more….

It’s been lovely to be here with you Nicky, thank you so much and if you ever want to come and dine with us – The Restaurant @ The Mill will have a table especially reserved for you!

Nicky: Thanks so much, Hilary, I will. I know how much pride Ben takes in his work, sourcing only the freshest ingredients every day (and the very best wines, I hear!). I look forward to meeting you there!

Wow, what a post! I have goose bumps of excitement. But there’s more… don’t miss the excerpt below! First of all, though, Hilary wanted to share how you can find out more about her author, Linn B. Halton. You can visit Linn’s author page over at loveahapyending.com.  You can also find Linn on Facebook and Twitter and, of course, at Sapphire Star Publishing. Linn is also present on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com!

Nicky: Thanks for that, Hilary. Now then, let’s have a read of the opening page of The Restaurant @ The Mill:

The first time I walked around the flour mill at Huntingbridge in Gloucestershire turned out to be a life-changing moment. Reminiscent of the first time I met my business partner, Ben Adams. The initial thought that struck me on both occasions was “Great, not perfect, but I can work with this.” It was enough to clinch the deal for me.

You see, I thought I had a “perfect” life once a long time ago. I married Josh, the man of my dreams, only to find out one failed marriage and a broken heart later, that everything could change in an instant. What you saw depended upon where you were standing when you admired it. If you were on the outside looking in on someone else’s life, it was only natural to form an opinion based on the façade you saw. What I eventually discovered was that even when you were on the inside looking out, it was easy to be fooled into thinking everything was fine. On that fateful day many years ago, what I hadn’t appreciated was that what we had was in fact a love triangle and knowing that would have given me a whole new perspective.

Everyone around us believed Josh and I had an enviable life, because we looked like the perfect couple. For two years and four months I thought so too. Then I found out Josh was cheating on me, and had been for quite a while before I eventually discovered the truth. The other woman, who had also fallen under the irresistible spell of my attentive husband, obviously had a completely different viewpoint from where she was standing. What was so poignantly sad and particularly cruel was that even after their affair I continued to remain oblivious to the fact that my life was a sham. Josh continued to be the kindest, most thoughtful, and loving man that I had fallen in love with—and that, above all else, hurt the most. How could he deceive with such blatant disregard to anyone else’s feelings? Had he ever really loved me? Or did he only love himself?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I was hooked after this, and I have been following the story of The Restaurant @ The Mill ever since…

HUGE congratulations to Linn on the launch of her second novel with Sapphire Star Publishing. Here’s to a tremendous launch!

You can get The Restaurant @ The Mill now from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com!

And here’s today’s second launch in the Sapphire Star Publishing family. Get ready for…

Fire On The Island by J.K. Hogan

She who wields the mark is the barrier between man and monster.
She is the daughter of gods, the mother of man, protector of all.
Vigilati Usque Ad Mortem”

All Isla Macallen wanted was a simple existence on her little Scottish island, free from her mother’s insanity and the prying eyes of neighbors. What she got was embroiled in a war for the souls of mankind. A war of good versus evil, of witches versus demons, and Isla learns that she alone can end it.

Dr. Jeremiah Rousseau was a self-proclaimed nomad, traveling the world researching paranormal phenomena. He doesn’t expect his research to lead him to Scotland, and to the woman who will turn his world upside down.

Together with a facetious shapeshifting animal spirit guide, Jeremiah and Isla discover that she is part of an ancient bloodline bred to protect the gateways between the human world and the spirit world, to keep evil demons from destroying them. They must find the key to defeating Alastore, the demon king, and closing the gate before Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is lifted. As the war for their souls wages around them, Isla and Jeremiah will risk it all for love—a love neither had ever thought possible.

Are you intrigued? Does that stunning cover grab you? Want to read on? Well, J.K. has sent this excerpt to get you hooked good and proper. Enjoy!

Isla had stopped at the edge of the porch and stood, frozen, staring out into the rainy darkness. Beyond her, Jeremiah could see the silhouette of a man. His face was in shadow, but from the luminescent eyes swirling with shadows, he knew it was Alastore.

When the man stepped forward into the dim light cast through the open door of the house, it became clear that he had a victim. Mhairi Mackay stood in front of the demon, and he had a strong arm locked around her neck.

Jeremiah surged forward, determined to protect Isla’s only remaining family, but Marduk stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. With a silent shake of his head, Marduk encouraged Jeremiah to think first and act with care.

Trust nothing, question everything, because things will most definitely not be as they seem. Marduk’s earlier words came back to him, and Jeremiah gave the man a quick nod to let him know he understood.

Isla lifted a foot to step down off the porch. “Think, Isla. Breathe. That’s not really Mhairi. She’s at Sacred Hearts, guarded by doctors and nurses that didn’t even want to let us in at first, remember?” he said in a low tone.

He saw a shudder rack her slender body but, much to his relief, she stayed put. Three pairs of eyes fixed on the pale, glowing arm that had the projection of Mhairi in a headlock.

Alastore threw his head back and cackled, before pinning each of them with a hard glare. “You think you can defeat me? I will lead you to your graves like lambs to the slaughter.” His voice was demonic, and they could hear the echo of pure evil behind it. It sounded like a dozen demons living inside one body, speaking in unison.

Without warning, he wrapped his free hand around Mhairi’s head and twisted in opposite directions. They heard a gruesome snap before the image of Mhairi crumpled to the ground.

A strangled cry ripped from Isla’s throat as the three of them bounded off the porch. They ground to a halt as Alastore threw his hands up toward the sky, and the pelting raindrops burst into incandescent flames.

The pellets of flame singed their skin, forcing them back to the shelter of the porch. Isla wailed as the spectre of Mhairi seemed to dissolve under the onslaught of fire and rain combined. Alastore’s head swiveled back to face them, his eyes gleaming with madness and hatred, pierced through to Isla’s soul.

“The little witch thinks she can defeat me! I, who can make the sky rain fire?” He took a step forward and Isla stood her ground. He glared at her with his mouth turned up in a gruesome sneer. “I will burn your life!” he spat at her.

“You’ll watch everything you care for turn to ash if you fight me!” He turned his cutting glare to the two men standing shoulder to shoulder on her right and absently gestured toward them. “These will die. Everyone will die.”

Facing Isla again, he gave her a sickeningly sweet smile. “And you, my dear…You will watch things fall apart. And then, you shall be mine.” She shuddered when he licked his lips and leered at her.

Isla would never be able to explain what came over her in that moment. As she focused on the images the demon pushed into her head—the pain and suffering, the dead and dying—it was the thought of Alastore turning his wrath upon Jeremiah that sparked the bone-deep anger inside her.

Storming off the porch into the maelstrom of fire and rain, she felt the breeze on the nape of her neck, when Jeremiah reached for her and missed. Storming toward Alastore, she stopped a few feet in front of him.

The balls of fire raining from the sky seemed to roll off an invisible shield around her and fury radiated from her body. “The hell I will!” she growled at him, gathering her energy low in her chest, preparing for a strike.

Marduk’s deceptively calm whisper drifted over to Jeremiah. “He’s goading her for a reason. Pushing her buttons. He may be trying to funnel her energy into himself, leaving her vulnerable for him to take her. Alastore does nothing without reason. Stop her.”

Jeremiah palmed the shotgun and whispered back to Marduk. “If I shoot him, it’s not going to stop him, right?” He waited for the other man to nod before continuing. “But it’ll hurt.”

Giving him a devious grin, Marduk nodded again. “It sure will. When he’s in corporeal form, he’ll feel the same pain a human would, he just won’t die. It will send him back to the locus to recharge.”

“Good enough for me.” Jeremiah pumped the forestock of the shotgun, drawing Alastore’s attention. The demon snarled at him but didn’t seem overly worried. That didn’t bode well.

Bracing the buttstock of the twelve gauge on his shoulder, he took aim and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Cursing, he expelled the dead round and pumped again. Trigger pull, nothing.

Howling with laughter, Alastore returned his attention to the 110 pounds of livid woman that stood in front of him. He cocked his head, like an animal hearing a strange sound. “So pretty, and yet so easy,” he began, “just like your mother.”

“Christ,” Jeremiah hissed as he saw flames spike out from Isla’s fingertips. She was playing right into Alastore’s hands, but she just couldn’t see it. Shoving the shotgun into Marduk’s hands, he turned toward the house.

“I think he’s somehow jamming the gun. Maybe if I find something with no mechanics, he won’t be able to stop it.”

“Hurry.”

Well, duh. Jeremiah bounded into the house and began tearing through cupboards and rifling through drawers. He thought about grabbing a knife, but he didn’t think any of them should get that close to the demon.

Inspiration struck when he found an unopened bottle of vodka, dusty and forgotten in a cabinet. Grabbing a kitchen rag, he ripped it in half. Emptying a third of the bottle down the sink, he stuffed the rag down into the neck, making sure that it was in far enough to soak up the alcohol.

He snagged a lighter from a drawer and rushed back outside. “Get her out of the way,” he ordered Marduk as he passed, not even stopping to make sure the other man heard him. He didn’t need to stop, because Marduk ran to catch up with him as he was lighting the rag on fire.

Marduk grasped Isla by the shoulders and yanked her back into his arms as Jeremiah tossed the burning bottle at Alastore’s feet.

The projectile immediately exploded, engulfing the demon in a huge wall of fire. The surge of heat was so intense, Jeremiah backed up several steps. He stood, watching as the skin melted off of Alastore’s corporeal form to reveal a blackened skeleton.

An inhuman screech rent the air as Alastore pointed a bony finger at them. “You’re mine,” he croaked as what was left of him dissolved into ash and flame.

“Yeah, yeah, and our little dog, too. Got it,” Jere grumbled.

“Hey!” Marduk’s indignant tone said he didn’t appreciate the dog reference, but Jeremiah didn’t much care. Pulling Isla away from wolf-boy, he enveloped her in a tight hug. Resting his chin on the top of her head, he allowed the shudders he had been suppressing to roll over his body. Giving her one last squeeze, he set her away from him and brushed past her, stalking into the house, slamming the door behind him.

Doesn’t this just have everything? Passion, romance, intrigue, fire… well, I can’t wait to read the entire book! HUGE congratulations to J.K. on the launch of Fire On The Island!! Fire on the Island is available now from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Find out more about J.K. on her website or over on her author page at Sapphire Star Publishing. J.K. is on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads, too!

Now raise a glass and **cheers** to J.K. and Linn!

CentreStage with Owen Carey Jones: Illicit Gems and Dramatic Career Changes

CentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world, introducing in particular my fellow featured authors at loveahappyending.com as well as fellow authors in the Sapphire Star Publishing family.  In this new, exciting feature, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them.  Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.

Today, it is my honour and my pleasure to host a fellow Loveahappyending.com author, namely the one and only Owen Carey Jones!

First of all, let’s have the official low-down on Owen, the author…  Introducing:  Owen Carey Jones

Born in Belize in the Caribbean, Owen Carey Jones is a former banking professional who decided on a change of career at the age of 45 and studied for an MA in Screenwriting (Fiction) at the Northern Film School in Leeds in the UK.

On completion of his Masters degree in 2000, Owen established Carey Films Ltd and went on to become an award winning independent feature film maker whose most recent film was screened in cinemas across the whole of the UK before being taken on by film distributors in both the UK and the USA.

As well as being shown in cinemas, Owen Carey Jones’s films have been seen by more than 40 million people on television in countries on four continents including China and the USA and in 2004, as a result of his work as a film writer, producer and director, he was elected to membership of the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA).

Rough Cut is the first novel by Owen Carey Jones but comes after more than ten years of writing the screenplays for his films during which, he says, he has learned a lot about storytelling.

Owen has so far undertaken 21 book signing events for Rough Cut with Waterstones branches around the country and has another nine signings scheduled before the current tour comes to an end. After that, he will be focussing on getting his next feature film through development and into production, hopefully in 2013.

Thank you for introducing yourself!  There’s quite a lot to take in here.  Let’s backtrack a little.  Tell us how you came to be a writer…

Having spent twenty-five years working in financial services, ending up as a publisher of several specialist magazines for the sector, in 1994 I underwent emergency heart surgery (quadruple coronary artery bypass). Three weeks later I was back at work and at my six monthly appointment with the cardiologist was told to stop or I would soon be dead!  I closed down the publishing company the next day and wondered what to do with the rest of my life, quite quickly deciding to do what I had always wanted to do: write. When I had left school with no A-levels (I found school work incredibly boring!), I told my father that I was going to be a poet. Of course he suggested that I get a ‘proper’ job, which I did.  But now, with time on my hands, I decided to write a novel.

That would be Rough Cut, I assume: Wow!  Tell us more about Rough Cut.

Rough Cut starts when a New York dealer in gemstones discovers a number of top quality synthetic diamonds in a batch he has bought, industry watchdog, the Federation of International Diamond Traders calls in Belizean, Carter Jefferson, to trace their origin.

Carter, a synthetic diamond specialist who recently quit working for the FIDT to concentrate on writing but who still works for them on an ad hoc basis, is reluctant to take the case until he finds a reference in the file which takes him back 25 years to the time when he was a geology student at Oxford University. Old relationships are revived and family secrets emerge as an attractive English girl and a passionate young Frenchman are sucked into the web of deceit and death surrounding the illicit gems.

Owen, what an intriguing story!  And quite an amazing career change from banking to writing: wow!  How did your writing career evolve from there? 

After getting professional feedback on the first draft, I realised that if I was serious about writing, I needed to get some education, so I applied to the Northern Film School in Leeds and two years later graduated with an MA in Screenwriting (Fiction). From there, I got involved in directing films and went on to make three feature films which have now been seen in cinemas and on television by more than 40 million people in countries on five continents including the UK, China and the USA.

A double career change with a sideline (or main line?) into film making.  I take my hat off and stand in awe at such determination!  But take us back to the evolution of your masterpiece… 

At the beginning of 2010, I decided to rewrite my novel, Rough Cut, which I had been developing as a screenplay over the years, taking into account everything I had learned about story telling in the years that had passed since I first wrote it. When writing, one of the things I learned early on is that it is easier to write about places you know well, so I tend to set my books and screenplays in familiar places and, in the case of Rough Cut, places I have a particular fondness for.

Write what you know; I am certainly familiar with that concept!  How do you fit all your projects and ambitions together? 

My current life involves various things, including doing research for international banks (to pay the bills!), developing future film projects, and writing. So writing has to be fitted in around my other activities but I can usually set aside periods of a few weeks when I can concentrate on one specific project, be that a film or a book.

Hee hee, I know what you need… what every writer needs! A spell on a desert island! What would you do, if? 

If I were stranded on a desert island, I would be so thrilled to be living near the sea that I wouldn’t really need anything else, but I would probably like to have a book of Times crosswords (and a pen of course!) and a stock of thriller novels (in the vein of John Grisham rather than Kathy Reichs). And I’d make sure my iPod was fully charged up so that I could listen to my collection of music ranging from Sandie Shaw’s 1960s songs through to Diana Vickers’ more recent songs, with some Human League favourites in between. And it would probably be a good idea to have some pads of paper so that  I could carry on writing about my experiences on the island when my laptop ran out of juice!

Fantastic answer!  Owen, it’s been a pleasure to find out the backstory to Rough Cut.  Thank you for visiting CentreStage today and letting us peek behind the scenes.   

If you want to find out more about Owen, you can visit his websites featuring Carey Films and Rough CutYou can buy Rough Cut on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com  or from Waterstones.  Owen is on Twitter and Facebook as well as Facebook fanpages. And, of course, Owen has an author page at Loveahappyending.com.

Now then, my question for YOU, dear reader, is obvious, isn’t it.  What would YOU do if you came into the possession of gems, however illicit or rough cut?

CentreStage with Amy Gregory: Racing to Love!

Welcome to CentreStageCentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world, introducing in particular fellow authors in the Sapphire Star Publishing family as well as fellow featured authors at loveahappyending.com.  In this new, exciting feature, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them.  Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.

Today, it is my tremendous pleasure to welcome fellow Sapphire Star Publishing author Amy Gregory to this latest edition of CentreStage!

Hello, Amy! I am so thrilled that you are visiting today.  What have you got for us?

What have I got for you…?  Well, let me see.  Here’s a story about stories and voices in my family.  I call it:

Too Many Words???

As a mother of three children I’ve have often found myself trapped in places with one or more of them trying to talk to me.  When they were around the ages of three to five years old they started telling stories.  I figured out by the third child it was coming and I could not escape!  These stories would often take several long moments to tell as I would stand, force a smile and nod, waiting for the end that would take seemingly forever to make an appearance.

Then I would shake my head and wonder where they came up with it.  Most times their little stories were cute, some made me laugh my ass off, some just made me think they were telling me something just to hear the sound of their own voice as parts were told over and over again.

And then, um….oh yeah and, and, and…..

Well, as my people have grown older their stories have become more important in their lives and mine.  They’ve been published in school literary journals, have been asked to share with the rest of their school, have been nominated to student council because their stories and ideas are beneficial to others.

Recently my two younger children took part in an essay contest sponsored by our school district that feeds into a much larger program put on by the metro area.  They were asked to write about a person in their lives that matters to them and is a wonderful person to those around them.  With no help allowed, they were to explain why their person makes a difference to those around them.

So as a writer, it was quite an honor to have not one, but both of my children’s essays chosen.  Their stories, their words, and their voices that were put down on paper.  Their talent for writing that was selected amongst those in their classes.

With Mother’s Day approaching here in the States [editor's note: at the time of writing], it reminds me of those little voices in the backseat of the car…um, oh yeah…and then you know what happened, Mom?  The giggles that would follow, the long pauses as they found more words to make up more parts to an already never-ending story.   Yes, I always knew what happened because they always told me, always had the words.  Always had another story ready when they finished the one before it.

Those stories seemed to take forever back then, but I can see for myself now how their creativity has found its way into their school work, and into their hobbies.  As a writer, I couldn’t be more proud.  As a mother I grin, hearing their little voices replayed in my head, their stories told over and over.  Pieces of the past I still giggle at every now again.

Um, umand then you know what happened?  

Amazing! So that’s what happened!  Thanks so much for sharing…
:-) Now, then: tell us more about your upcoming novel, Racing to Love: Carter’s Treasure!

From the outside, Molly West had everything, beauty, brains, and a career she’d retired from not once, but twice.  Being in the limelight and in a sport that was male driven, she was often surrounded men.  She ignored first the boys, and as she got older, the men.  Unfortunately, they were all the same, all after one thing, and she had absolutely no use for them.  Her cold shoulder and patented not a chance in hell look were usually enough to get her point across.  Occasionally, she had to resort to her sass—and her brother.

Molly had no plans in changing what was a perfectly good system. That is until she walked into the pits.  When she stood toe-to-toe with the sex in jeans, she knew right then and there that the man her adoptive mother always told her was out there, was now standing right in front of her.

Carter Sterling had traveled the racing circuit since he was a boy.  He’d heard all the old standbys, She’s out there somewhere, love comes along when you least expect it.  Good things come to those that… Yeah, he’d heard them all.  The last place he expected to meet the love of his life was on a pro track.  All she did was smile, and he knew, looking into her sapphire blue eyes, Molly West was his.  Forever.

If it was only that easy.  From the moment he laid eyes on her, he had a gripping feeling in him.  An overwhelming need to protect her.  A girl he’d just met.  Carter had learned a long time ago that gut feelings are almost never wrong.

Molly now held his heart in her hands, but it was going to take a lot more than just love to protect her from the past she thought she’d buried a long time ago.

Absolutely intriguing, Amy, what an unusual setting!  This is so high on my wishlist!! I adore the cover, by the way, what a wonderful image for your book. Wow! Now tell us more about yourself…

About Amy Gregory

Amy Gregory leads an incredibly active lifestyle in Kansas City with her husband and their three fantastic kids who keep them running in three very different directions.  When she’s not rushing her oldest daughter to tumbling, her youngest daughter to music lessons, or sitting track-side watching her son practice motocross, she’s taking the few minutes in between to scribble the next pages in her Racing to Love series.

When asked, “When do you have time to write?” Amy Gregory giggles.  “In bits and pieces,” she says.

Amy is known for her snarky, off the cuff sense of humor, which you’ll find shining through in the characters she’s created.  Her debut novel, Racing to Love, Carter’s Treasure, is set for release June 7, 2012.

I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and now I’ve finally found it. – Amy Gregory

Find out more about Amy on her blog, or on her Sapphire Star author page.  Amy is also on Goodreads and you can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you so much, Amy, for visiting today and introducing yourself and your novel, Racing to Love: Carter’s Treasure. It’s totally intriguing and I can’t wait for launch day.  I look forward to welcoming you back on 7 June in my Hall of Fame as part of your launch party!! Rock on! :-) xx

Now, dear reader, it’s your turn. Have you ever been told, “Too many words…?!?”

CentreStage with Sheryl Browne: Of Ships Captains and Swamp Monsters

Welcome to CentreStage! What an amazing run of authors we’ve had of late… and the series continues to move from strength to strength!

CentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world, introducing in particular my fellow featured authors at loveahappyending.com as well as fellow authors in the Sapphire Star Publishing family.  In this new, exciting feature, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them.  Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.

Today, it is my honour and my pleasure to host a fellow Loveahappyending.com author, the one and only Sheryl Browne! Welcome Sheryl!  Today, Sheryl writes about ships captains… and unappreciated swamp monsters!

Being a shy, retiring sort of person, I don’t normally like to be centre-stage, but as you’ve asked, I…  Oi, Nicky, shove over a bit!  You’re hogging the spotlight!  Humph.  Thank you.  *Turns good side to audience.*  Now, as I was saying, I don’t generally volunteer to be the main attraction, preferring to stay backstage as suited to my quiet disposition.

Launching into a new venture… in more than one sense!

I certainly would have preferred not to have been the main attraction on one of our recent boating expeditions.  You may, or may not know, because it’s possibly not that riveting, but my partner and I have decided on a major life-change, the idea not only to downsize, but to stop and smell the roses.

We are in the process of swapping this …

…for this!

Our new des res will actually be a luxury (all essentials included, as in plughole for hairdryer) narrow-boat, rather than a tugboat, but still some people might wonder if I haven’t taken leave of my senses. I’m wondering if I haven’t taken leave of my senses, particularly as he who fancies himself as ship’s captain apparently doesn’t notice whether the crew are on board.

My audience didn’t seem particularly moved either, when I plopped silently off the back of the boat into the murky depths of the water.

Captain Unaware doesn’t miss his crew…

Canal banks, you see, don’t have streetlights, a fact I pointed out to ship’s captain, as he deftly wedged our boat in between two correctly moored (as in, they still has the benefit of daylight to moor by) early-birds, shouting instructions to me to jump onto the bank with the mooring rope as he did so.  I did.  I missed.  I wasn’t missed.

I still hadn’t been noticed by my absence as I emerged from the water looking something akin to a swamp monster, nought to be seen for mud but the whites of my eyes.  My audience, three men discussing their day’s sailing, glanced over from their ringside seats on the boat behind us, and then had another sip of their lagers.

The captain, by this time, had managed to negotiate bank from boat, and was admiring the view, clueless, whilst waiting for me to hand him the rope.  I did.  At which point, brow furrowed in obvious concern, he leaned forward to wipe a splodge of mud – from the boat.  Otherwise, he didn’t bat an eye.  Nothing.  Not a flicker of an acknowledgement of my slimy predicament.  I was off his radar.

Taking the sensible way out (just)

Next crew’s job: to fetch mooring pin and mallet, in order for captain to undertake crucial task of securing boat (this job only to be undertaken by person competent enough to accomplish, i.e. someone with scouting experience).  Rather than hit him, possibly with both implements, I chose to bypass the possible murder weapons in favour of the shower.

Captain was still standing on the bank, rope in hand, as I emerged from the shower, cleaner, less pungent, and dressed in my jim-jams.   “Aren’t you going to pass me the mallet?” he asked, peering through the porthole, clearly perturbed.

“*!!*!*!#*!!”  I answered sweetly.

The clunk of the closing porthole shutters was echoed only by the hoot of an owl – and the hasty battening of hatches next door.

Moral of story.  If you are considering sailing off into the sunset by way of relaxing lifestyle-change, you might want to suggest to your man he ditches the captain’s hat, before you end up ditching the captain.  Glug, glug…………………………….

Sheryl, what an amazing story! I’m afraid to say that your humorous rendition of the mud monster experience had me in fits of laughter when you were probably looking for empathy.  But if you will make it sound so funny…..  Thanks for sharing this story, and now let’s find out more about you and your book.  Book first!

Recipes for Disaster
The shortest way to a man’s heart

Mix romantic comedy and step-by-step cooking instructions. Bake at 200 degrees for an entertaining read and handy guide.

She’s a single. He’s a widower. She wants him. He wants her. She wants to impress. So does he. There’s just one catch – she can’t cook. To get him, she needs to get past the big fish – his mother. Lucky her, she’s got an Ace up her sleeve and all she’s got to do is impress this one time. Bad luck, though, her new guy can’t cook either, her dog Rambo is on the loose and now they’ve got to pull off the big lunch at the club. Will it be a match made in heaven? Will they be able to pull off a culinary miracle? Will their combined efforts result in love at first bite? Or is it simply a Recipe for Disaster?

Recipes for Disaster is available in paperback and Kindle format, and you can buy it from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com,  any local bookstore, or direct from Safkhet Publishing

And now let’s find out more about the lovely Sheryl Browne:

Sheryl grew up in Birmingham, UK, where she studied Art & Design. She wears many hats: a partner in her own business, a mother, and a foster parent to disabled dogs.

Creative in spirit, Sheryl has always had a passion for writing. A full member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, she has previously been published in the US and writes Romantic Comedy because, as she puts it, “life is just too short to be miserable.”

Sheryl’s new novel, RECIPES FOR DISASTER, combining delicious and fun recipes with sexilicious romantic comedy, has just been released by Safkhet Publishing. Sheryl has also been offered a further three-book contract under the Safkhet Publishing Soul imprint.  SOMEBODY TO LOVE will be published July 1st 2102.

You can visit Sheryl on her website, on Facebook and on Twitter.  Sheryl is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a featured author with innovative reader/author project, loveahappyending.com. 

Sheryl, this has simply been the most fantastic tale on CentreStage, thank you so much for sharing. I like your style and I adore your sense of humour.

And now it’s over to you, dear reader. Personally, I think Sheryl was remarkably restrained in her management of her misadventure.  What would YOU have done, had you been in her shoes… sorry, mud?

CentreStage: Janice Horton wows the male of the species with her latest novel!

Welcome again to CentreStage!

CentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world, introducing in particular my fellow featured authors at loveahappyending.com as well as fellow authors in the Sapphire Star Publishing family.  In this new, exciting feature, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them.  Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.

Today, it is my honour and my pleasure to host a fellow Loveahappyending.com author, namely the amazing Janice Horton! Welcome Janice–and I look forward to hearing about an event that really moved you just lately!

Janice writes: RomCom for Men…!

An amazing thing just happened. My latest eBook, a contemporary romance novel entitled Reaching for the Stars has received its seventeenth review on Amazon.co.uk!

You may understand that I’m pleased – it was a very complementary review – but why was it amazing you ask? Well, you see, it was from a man.  Now, there is no reason why a man should not read and enjoy this novel – as it does have a strong, topical and a humorous storyline, which is told in part from a male point of view.

It’s about a man, after all. A disillusioned and media stalked celebrity chef who has just won his third ‘star’ at the same time as losing his third wife. An irony lost on no one, least of all the infamous chef himself.

But you see, this particular male reader (having at first confessed to downloading ‘Reaching for the Stars’ by accident and reading it anyway) said he really enjoyed it and has since also downloaded my previous novel ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot’. He entitled his review ‘Romcom for Men’.

Well, to say I was delighted is an understatement because here at last was a man who didn’t think that reading a book with a romantic thread in it was not for him, and by posting his review has singlehandedly exploded the myth that my books (about relationships) are written exclusively for only half the population.

And it’s not just books, mine or otherwise, that get those misleading gender genre labels. Take movies for example; even the ones labelled War/Crime/
Action/Adventure usually have a strong thread of romance in the storyline. So why market Romance exclusive as ‘Women’s Fiction’?

Thank you to my lovely male reviewer. You not only moved me with your generosity in taking the time to put up such a wonderful review – you also made my day. RomCom for all!

Hear, hear! I couldn’t agree more! What a fabulous occasion, Janice, I am thrilled and I share your excitement about ‘wowing’ the male of the species.

Let’s find out more about Janice Horton

Janice writes romantic and descriptive novels with humour. Look out for her Amazon bestselling Bagpipes & Bullshot and latest novel Reaching for the Stars. Janice is a regular blogger and you can find her on Twitter and Facebook. When not writing novels, Janice writes lifestyle articles and has had work published in national and international magazines and regional newspapers. She has also been involved in BBC Scotland’s ‘Write Here Write Now’ project. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and an Associate Author and Editor at Loveahappyending.com. Janice will be speaking at the Loveahappyending.com Summer Audience Event in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, on the 16th June 2012.

You can find Janice’s books on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

A big Thank You to Janice for visiting CentreStage today and sharing her fabulous anecdote! :-)

Now then… calling all men! Are you a closet RomCom lover?  I know at least some of you are, because I know you’ve read Janice’s book and a few of you have read my book, too… but will you own up here?

Calling the ladies: what do you think about genres? Why shouldn’t men read romantic comedies?  And you, do you read crime? Horror? Do you read them out in the open, or in secret?  Let’s have the genre/gender discussion, see what shakes out!