Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Welcome Davee Jones today

Please give a warm welcome to author Davee Jones who joined me on the interview couch and answered a few questions.....

 How would you describe yourself using only five words? Insatiable, Demanding, Adventurous, Solitary, Misophonia

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
On a mountaintop in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado

How do you get yourself in the mood to write?
I crank up the theme to Rocky or We Will Rock You by Queen….lol. If I find it difficult to get motivated, I jump into the SCP author page and see if anyone is up for a sprint. Nothing like getting writing going like fellow authors jamming together.

Coffee, tea or other drink to get you moving in the morning
? I love coconut lattes and blueberry Red Bull, depends on my mood.

What is coming up from you in 2013? My first YA paranormal book, Finding Love Under a Rock, released this month that begins my Critter Getter series. The second book of this particular series revolves around the legend of Bigfoot. I write the YA material as my alter ego, Allee Mae. All of my other works are published as Davee Jones. AND--My first horror/thriller/paranormal book releases this summer, Blue Ink -The Skin Stalker is my first work of 80K words! Anything you want to tease us with? Can this average woman defeat a demon terrorizing her, or will he destroy her in the process? And what is this weird blue ink dot anyway?

What do you feel is the most important thing that a first-time author should know? 
Edit until you can’t stand it anymore. Learn everything you can about marketing and selling. I sent out over 250 review queries, requests for publicity, etc. I received less than ten replies back.  Yes, I said less than ten. I sent a letter to each and every newspaper in Oklahoma (my home state in the USA) and got ONE solitary reply back. I personalized every submission query, DO NOT Bcc these things to a mass audience. You will not receive a reply. You must demonstrate you researched who you sent the query to, let them know you took the time. Yes, it will take you hours upon hours, but, the few replies you receive back will be worth it.

About Finding Love Under a Rock....
Sweet Cravings Publishing
Young Adult Paranormal
Buy at Publisher / Amazon / Barnes & Nobles / Smashwords / ARe / Goodreads

Kalista Bristow and Leandra Lehigh moved to Oklahoma not just to attend nursing school, but, to find some adventure. When Leandra reads about the sport of “noodling”, she is literally “hooked’, and reserves top-notch guides, Caleb Chandler and Owen Guthrie, to give them a true southern experience.
Wading through the murky river, Kalista finds herself drawn to the handsome Caleb and his red-dirt good looks. He manages a few shy glances in her direction, intrigued by her tenacity. Could this cute city girl bring him out of his awkward insecurity when it comes to dating? However, thoughts of blossoming love move to the wayside as the girls find more than they bargained for under the surface of that shadowy river. They must rely on Caleb and Owen to keep them safe, all the while beginning to believe the mysterious legends the guys have been telling them are probably all true.


Kalista’s stomach churned nervously as her eyes darted around. Sunlight danced off the ripples in the water that their movements created. Is that us making those waves, or something just below the surface? “Crap, should I watch where I step?”
“That’s sort of a problem. You can’t watch anywhere you move. So, you just better hope you make the right step.” Caleb said solemnly.
“How far out do we have to go? The water is getting colder the further out we get. Besides, how can we get to the bank to get out if we do get into trouble?” Panic teemed in Kalista’s voice. “I don’t like water I can’t see into.”
“Hey, roomie, calm down. Good grief, we haven’t even started yet.” Leandra finally sounded exasperated with Kalista’s irrational fear. “Would you just enjoy yourself and get over being a baby already? Not everything has to be a swimming pool with pristine water to be safe.”
“Girls, girls, focus. You are both right in your own way. This is more than a simple excursion—it’s time we start paying attention to our surroundings.”
“Okay, so, we need to be one with the fish?” Leandra asked seriously as she peered down toward the water.
Kalista rolled her eyes. “Sheesh Lea, as if you could see anything through this brown tinged river water.” She looked more closely, realizing how intent Leandra appeared. “You really are getting in tune with your aquatic side, aren’t you?”
“We paid for this expedition so you’re darn right I’m getting in touch with my inner Ictalurus punctatus.”
Owen furrowed his brow toward Leandra. “What the heck is an ictaluruhhh…icta…icta-walruses or whatever you just said?”
“Owen, let me apologize for Leandra, leave it to the bookworm to use the scientific name for a channel catfish.” Kalista replied with amusement in her tone.
“You knew what I meant when I said it. What’s that say about you?” Leandra shot back triumphantly.
Caleb interjected into the banter. “Girls, we are actually not looking for Ictalurus punctatus. We are searching for Pylodictis olivari, a flathead catfish.”

Follow the author's Blog HERE

Monday, April 29, 2013

John Brantingham talks about Audio Books

Five Rules for Audiobooks

There are some people in this world who don’t like audiobooks. These people suggest that listening to an audiobook is in someway cheating. It’s a perception that’s disappearing, but it exists.

I had a conversation with someone about this a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about a book, and he knew I’d been putting in a lot of hours driving up and down the state. He asked me when I had the time to read the whole thing, and I told him it was an audiobook. He’s the last one who told me I was cheating when I did that.


It doesn’t make sense. The only way a person could conceive of that as cheating is if he or she thought that reading wasn’t fun to begin with. I enjoy books, and I want to be around them as much as possible. They’re dangerous, however. They need to be taken seriously. I present five rules for reading audio safely.

1.         Read the Synopsis and Think about Your Life

You’re probably going to be reading while driving. If you’re driving someplace important, you’d better choose the right book. I listened to The House of Sand and Fog right as I was going into a job interview -- a job that I really wanted and desperately needed. As I sat there in the parking lot waiting for the interview time to come closer, I grew more and more engrossed in the plot until (spoiler alert) my favorite characters, characters I’d grown to love and understand, started killing themselves and each other.

Shock horror. The tragedy. The sturm and drang. The horror, the horror.

Suddenly, nothing seemed as important. Suddenly even the job interview didn’t seem to matter, only the fact that they were dying, people I loved.

Thankfully, the passion I was feeling for the characters I loved turned me into an intense and seemingly complex speaker. I seemed to ooze intense passion. Of course, I did. A couple of my best friends had just died.

2.         Do Not Listen to Horror at the Wrong Time.

I became engrossed with Stephen King’s The Stand just as I was going on a camping trip. I couldn’t turn it off, couldn’t stop listening. Neither could anyone else in the trip.

We couldn’t stop thinking about it either, especially out in the woods when the wind would pick up and twigs would snap and leaves would swirl and maybe that was the Walking Dude just outside the tent. One night, sometime around midnight, we gave up and sat in the car, listening to the drama play out until the sun came up.

3.         No Faulkner

Actually that rule can be extended to a lot of writers. James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot. Basically anyone who needs a desk reference companion or anyone whose language you need to read slowly to appreciate. After all, it takes a lot of quiet time to appreciate a line like, “A rose is a rose is a rose,” and you want to figure out what it going on and why you’ve forced yourself to endure that kind of poem before you move on.

Don’t get me wrong. I like The Sound and the Fury as much as the next guy, but it’s kind of a slow burning appreciation.

4.         Nothing Too Sexy

You do NOT want to be the guy with that look on your face at a stoplight. Keep your D.H. Lawrence at home.

5.         Consider the Actor

Some actors are good. Some are too good. I drive the Los Angeles freeway system all the time. Listening to Alex Cross can be a dangerous thing especially during a gun battle when I’m changing lanes. The bad guy is just ahead and the panic in the actor’s voice works its way from my ear to my foot, and now I’m weaving trying to save the woman, that poor, poor woman.

The CHP generally frowns on this kind of listening.

No, it’s not cheating to listening to audiobooks. In fact, it’s one of my great pleasures, but it needs to be done responsibly.

The wrong book can ruin your whole life.

About Mann of War by John Brantingham
Oak Tree Press
Buy at Amazon

Robert Mann is sick of hearing about criminals who get away with murder. He’s sick of rapists, drug dealers, and con men. He’s sick of the human trash – people who know how to use the system against itself. He’s sick of sitting idly by and doing nothing. So Robert Mann is going to fight back. The problem -- there’s a difference between wanting to kill someone and actually doing it. Review Blurbs: “…His characters are beautifully rendered, real and true, at once vulnerable and courageous. Wise and insightful, Brantingham's work brilliantly captures the light and darkness in us all.” --James Brown “John Brantingham is one of the brightest stars emerging from a generation of authors…His capacious human sympathies, which do not exclude a keen sense of humor, elevate and deepen his work to layers beyond the merely entertaining. Prepare to be both educated and enthralled.” –Gerald Locklin “…the book that the illegitimate son of Robert Parker and James Ellroy might have had in a parallel universe. Brantingham’s clipped, tough-guy prose is possessed of a hard-boiled rhythm that approaches a kind of poetry, and his first-class dialogue, which is at turns witty, cruel, and wise, immediately places Brantingham onto the short list of great contemporary crime writers.” —Paul Kareem Tayyar, Author of “In the Footsteps of the Silver King” and “Postmark Atlantis”

About the Author:

John Brantingham has published hundreds of stories and poems and books such as Mann of War, East of Los Angeles, and Let Us All Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods. He works at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, where he lives with his wife Ann. His blog can be found at johnbrantingham.blogspot.com.

Latest Releases this week from Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press

This week's Dreamspinner Press Releases....

Finding Shelter by M.J. O'Shea
Rock Bay Series, Book Three

Length: Novel (204p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: April 29, 2013
Available in E-book & Print

Justin Foster has nineteen years of nothing but trouble behind him. After escaping his abusive father, he finds himself in Rock Bay, Washington, with his cousin Travis. Justin is bruised and has a hard time trusting, but with the help of his family and the small town, he might be able to heal.

Logan O’Brien is also new in town, hoping he can finally get away from his past and the memories of the girlfriend who shattered his heart. It doesn’t take him long to realize Rock Bay can be more than safe harbor: it can also be home. And for the first time in his life, he finds himself captivated by a man—by Justin.

Justin is attracted to Logan too, but he’s also wary. Physically, Logan reminds him a bit too much of the closeted jerks who used to beat him up after school. But after one awkwardly amazing kiss, he’s smitten, despite how his past and insecurities continue to haunt him. Logan’s love, faith, and stubbornness are just what Justin needs to believe their love is worth fighting for.

Sins of Another by Jessica Skye Davies
Length: Novel (216p.) | Genre: Bittersweet Dream, Contemporary | Release Date: April 29, 2013
Available in E-book & Print

One morning Padrig Kennedy comes home to find his partner, Nick Glenfielding, in bed with another man. Shocked, hurt, and vulnerable, Padrig flees and meets a stranger who seems to offer comfort—but he force-feeds Padrig a steady diet of drugs and prostitution instead. When he finally surfaces from his hell, it’s to another system shock: he’s now HIV positive.

Nick descends into darkness as well. Devastated by losing Padrig, he finds no consolation in the legal career he doesn’t love and tries to find solace in alcohol, spending his days in an ever-deepening haze.

Padrig and Nick find each other again, but their relationship can never be the same. If they’re to stand any chance of a future together, they must do the improbable: make sense of the past and learn to cope with new burdens they’ll bear for life.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It's an unfortunate truth: love doesn't always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears. 

Stubborn Heart by Ken Murphy
Length: Novel (224p.) | Genre: Contemporary |Release Date: April 29, 2013

Available in E-book & Print

After breaking up with his cheating boyfriend, Mark Smith keeps life simple: his nursing career and a place of his own, but no dating. He’s steering clear of romance and the heartbreak that goes with it. After losing both parents and having all his relationships fail, he figures happily ever after is a myth.

When Dr. Trevor Hayes crosses Mark’s path at the hospital, he falls hard for Mark. The attraction is clearly mutual, and Trevor is determined to parlay that attraction into a relationship. Mark is just as determined to avoid exactly that.

But Trevor chips away at Mark’s resistance, and facing hardship and sorrow together brings them closer. Still, Mark can’t shake his belief that their romance is temporary—until he’s unexpectedly faced with the danger that he might lose Trevor for good. Mark must choose between guarding his heart and giving it completely, the risk he swore never to take again.

The Caveman and the Devil by Chris T. Kat
Length: Novella (80p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: May 1, 2013
Available in E-book only

The animals at the Philadelphia Zoo brought zookeepers Paul and Noah together, but now they might tear them apart. When a bloodthirsty lioness stalks her cubs, Noah charges into her enclosure without regard for his own safety. Luckily, a coworker catches his mistake and saves the day. It’s not the first time Noah’s rushed in on impulse, and he still carries scars from the last time.

Paul can’t pretend nothing happened. Frustrated, he tries to comfort Noah, but he can’t get past his anger. As head keeper of the big cats, Paul must report the incident and figure out how to keep his reckless lover safe. Somehow he has to make Noah see that his carelessness could cost him his job or his life—and maybe Paul too.

Coal to Diamonds by Augusta Li
Length: Novella (127p.) | Genre: M/M/M or More, Fantasy/Paranormal: Contemporary Fantasy Release Date: May 1, 2013
Available in E-book only

2nd Edition

In order to survive high school, Cole, Cam, and Bobby came together as friends and lovers to form a coven to practice magic. Then after graduation, Cam and Bobby escaped the small, backward town where they grew up and went on to success, leaving Cole behind.

Ten years later, a series of tragedies brings Cam and Bobby back to Cole, and leads them to a powerful man named Darius Thorn, who wants to hone—and control—their magical skills. But after being apart so long, the trust and devotion they once felt isn’t as strong as it used to be, and they’ll need to reforge their bond and combine their energies to survive.

1st Edition published by Tease Publishing, March 2009

I Can See for Miles by Lisa Worrall
Length: Novella (200p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: May 1, 2013
Available in E-book only

After a kayaking accident took Josh Donald’s sight, he’s faced with learning to negotiate the world as a blind man. In short order, his boyfriend leaves him behind, making it clear he’s not inclined to deal with special needs. Reeling from the blow, Josh flounders. In an attempt to help, Josh’s friends take him to a camp for the blind, where he falls for the camp organizer, Charlie Cooper. Charlie seems to feel the attraction too, but when a horse named Dottie pushes them into a hot first kiss, Charlie resists. He believes he’s damaged goods, not boyfriend material. Since the accident, Josh has faced tough obstacles, but the most challenging hurdle of all may be getting Charlie to open up and take a chance on love.

The Jouster's Lance by A.J. Marcus
A Ren Faire Romance
Length: Novel (212p.) | Genre: Contemporary | Release Date: May 3, 2013
Available in E-book & Print

Dale O’Toole, aka Diederik, the Demon Duke of Denmark, takes his Renaissance festivals seriously. He has been on the jousting circuit for five years and enjoys his gypsy lifestyle, traveling to faires around the country. It’s fun and he has good friends.

Austin Renfro has worked in a pirate gift shop at the Colorado Renaissance Festival for several years but has a life outside the medieval fantasy world. When Austin spies Dale during the first joust of the season, he knows he must find a way to meet him, even if the jousters and royal cast don’t normally associate with the working class.

Their first chance meeting causes more than a little embarrassment for both men, but they don’t let that stop them. They try to let their budding love find its place while keeping it from becoming common knowledge. But when a particularly conservative knight catches them in flagrante, it’s bound to cause problems. After all, jousts are dangerous….

Paid Leave by Hayley B. James
Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Contemporary |Release Date: May 3, 2013
Available in E-book & Print

Albuquerque police officer Benji Miller made the choice to hide his sexuality and devote his life to his career. He guards his secret carefully, believing he is protecting his job and happiness. Then, during a routine traffic stop gone awry, he shoots a suspect to protect a young girl, and his life spins out of control. A department-mandated paid leave rips away the only distraction he had, and he has to deal with the unsympathetic media who criticize the police department’s every move.

One day, needing to get out of the house, Benji walks into a cafĂ©, where he meets Neal McCoy—a gay man living without shame, unafraid to speak his mind or stand up against prejudice. Benji quickly falls for Neal but struggles to combine his new love interest and his career. With the media threatening the careful illusion he’s built around himself, Benji can’t stand the pressure.

Benji has to decide: sacrifice his happiness in the name of his career and an easy life, or find the courage to give up the lonely existence he knows and take a step into the unknown.

Harmony Ink Press Release....

Evolution by Sam Kadence
Length: Novel (230p.) | Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal - Vampires, YA, Gay | Release Date: May 1, 2013
Available in Print & E-book

Gene Sage has only ever wanted to sing, but his band, Evolution, is pushing him toward the big time. He finds it hard to focus on making musical history when he’s dreaming of graveyards and seeing ghosts. And while all he can think of is hiding who he is from a world unforgiving of anyone different, he discovers he’s also the ultimate snack for vampires and demons. When Gene literally runs into—over—his idol, Kerstrande Petterson, rock god, vampire in hiding, and music cynic, his life falls over the edge into chaos.

Jaded by the world and nearly a decade in the music business, Kerstrande thinks Gene wants to use him to make Evolution immortal in more than one way, but he can’t seem to brush aside the young singer’s enthusiasm.

Getting involved with Kerstrande drags Gene into otherworldly power struggles. Between the ghosts stalking them, the media painting supernaturals as villains, and a vampire out of control in the city, the only way for Gene and Kerstrande to survive is for Gene to embrace his powers—and his destiny.

Book Spotlight~ The Count's Last Mistress by Bess Greenfield

The Count's Last Mistress by Bes Greenfield
The Valencourts #1
Historical Romance
Publisher: Self/Indie
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Heat Level: Steamy
Word Count: 91,000

She set out to expose his true nature, but the secrets revealed were her own…

In the aftermath of war and revolution, cavalry officer Olivier Valencourt, the comte de Chaumenay, only wants peace. But his discovery of his deceased brother’s child in a Montmartre hovel leads to a battle of wills with the lovely but evasive American struggling to provide for him. Determined to gain custody of his nephew, Olivier sets out to win the audacious bohemian’s trust with patronage and patience, but her courage, wisdom, and innocent sensuality divert his agenda.

Painter Jeanne Delancy has good reason to despise the portrait-worthy count before she ever meets him. She believes he’s the man who seduced and deserted her friend long ago. Unfortunately, the talented and persuasive Olivier is hard to dislike or resist in person.

Conflicted by loyalty to her missing friend and her duty to the abandoned six-year-old she’s vowed to protect, Jeanne feels obligated to give the war hero the opportunity to prove he’s worthy of knowing his son. But the independent woman who thinks herself immune to temptation underestimates Olivier in many ways and reveals far more than she ever anticipates. While the strong-willed opposites struggle to reconcile their deepest longings, dangerous alliances and scandalous secrets threaten a tragic repetition of history.

Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains adult sexual situations and/or adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.


The door opened, and the impersonal explanation he’d memorized vanished from his mind. He’d expected to see the lithesome, titian-haired beauty he’d known long ago in Burgundy. Instead, he encountered a petite brunette in a paint-smeared smock. There was also paint in one of the corkscrews of hair which had fallen free of her chignon. Something about the woman arrested him though he deemed her unconventionally pretty at best with her wide forehead, long nose, and dainty mouth. Perhaps it was her reaction to him. He could sense the frantic beating of her heart, and her golden brown eyes telegraphed wariness.

He regretted causing her distress and hastened to explain himself. “Good afternoon. I am Olivier Valencourt.” He bowed instinctively. “I’m looking for Claudine Ardaut, and I was informed she lived here. Is she at home?”

The young woman swallowed and hesitated, clearly debating her reply. “I am not familiar with anyone by that name.”

Her French was grammatically correct, but her accent revealed her as American. It surprised him to find a foreigner in Paris now. It was unlikely that she’d come here recently. The ruins of landmarks and homes and the mass burials of the executed made Paris a tourist destination only for those with a morbid taste for tragedy. She must have come before the war. There had been little warning when France declared war against Prussia. Many foreigners found themselves trapped inside the barricades along with working-class Parisians without the resources to leave.

“I was given this address by a reliable source,” he persisted. Instinct told him she was lying.

“Are you implying that I’m lying to you?” she asked in her slow, unnatural-sounding manner of speech.

“Certainly not. I was merely hoping you might know some little detail which would enable me to find her.”

Absently, she touched her face, leaving umber fingerprints upon her cheek. He felt an irrational urge to wipe the paint from her smooth, fair skin. She was pretty by any standard, he decided.

“Why are you looking for this woman? Has she done something wrong?”

“No. I’ve come on a personal matter.”

If anything, she looked even more defensive. Her enormous eyes filled with censure as if she knew what he’d done and the ramifications. The guilt he’d been trying to suppress for weeks finally assailed him. If only he’d kept his opinions to himself, so many lives might have turned out differently.

Her evasiveness maddened him. He only wished to complete his mission and be done with the whole matter, and she was keeping him from accomplishing that. He’d overcome far more challenging obstacles than a reticent female. He’d been good at persuading women at one time though he could scarcely recall those years now. Searching for some way to draw her out, his glance fell upon her voluminous smock. Sometimes the best strategy was the most obvious one. “You are a painter, I see. I recently came into possession of some property and could use some new art for decoration. Do you have anything for sale?”

She frowned, instantly suspicious. “Nothing is finished.”

“I know how you artists are. Nothing is ever completed to your satisfaction.” He took a step toward the threshold. “Why don’t you allow me to be the judge?”

She held her ground. “I’m certain my style would be too modern to suit your taste.”

She folded her arms about her waist, and his eyes were instantly drawn to her small form. She possessed a better figure than he’d thought, full round breasts and a tiny waist. A strange sort of agitation arose inside him. With astonishment, he recognized the sensation as lust. He hadn’t felt desire for so many months he’d feared he might never regain that part of his nature. Though he felt reassured that all was in working order, the inappropriateness of his irrational attraction irritated him. “And you know my taste.”

She surveyed his uniform from his polished boots to his fitted jacket with its neat rows of small gold buttons and black braiding. “You are an officer of some sort. A military man. I would guess you are conservative and view art primarily in terms of investment.”

He’d never given a second thought to art, but he didn’t appreciate her making assumptions about him. “There you are wrong. As it happens, I prefer more modern pieces. Besides, your refusal to let me judge your work only makes me more curious about it.”

Giveaway......Leave a comment during the next two days to be entered to win an eBook copy of "The Count's Last Mistress"

About the Author and links:

Bess Greenfield grew up in Pittsburgh and graduated from Cornell University and University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Before coming to the conclusion that she should pursue her passion and become a novelist, she worked as a journalist for several newspapers, as a lawyer, and as a waitress (disastrously). She is a lifelong aficionado of romantic literature and currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, three children, and overly affectionate chocolate Labrador. When she is not dreaming up and researching new stories or driving her children somewhere, she enjoys traveling, walking in the forest, and adding to her growing collection of native Virginia plants. For more information about Bess Greenfield and her books, please visit www.bessgreenfield.com.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Guest Author Day with Shirley Skufca Hickman

Tell us about your favorite character from your books.

My first book, “Don’t Be Give UP.” was about my family so I don’t dare pick a favorite.

Sarah is my favorite fictional character in my romance novel, Sarah Darlin’. I admire her spirit, independence and loyalty.  She was raised by an Irish couple, Patrick and Katie, who suffered terribly during the potato famine in Ireland because of their English landlord. They insist that Sarah has nothing to do with the English aristocrat, Richard Moresby. Because of her loyalty to the O’Malleys, at first she denies her love for Richard.

Tell us about your current/upcoming release. What inspired this story?

I love to read romance novels and I’ve always been fascinated by San Francisco during the Gold Rush.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I have no set time to write. Some days I may work nine hours; other days I don’t write at all, but I think about what I’m going to write every day.

What is the hardest part of writing your books?

Having enough time and being satisfied with what I write. Finding a publisher was also difficult until I won first prize for Sarah Darlin’ in a romance novel writing contest conducted by Oak Tree Press. The staff is wonderful and my next book will be published by them soon.

What does your family think of your writing career?

When I wrote my first book about my family, my sisters told me to write the way I remembered our lives, and they would swear that’s exactly what happened. My husband, son, daughter-in-law and her mom read my work and give excellent comments. My relatives buy every book I write.

What do you think makes a good story?

Characters that capture the reader’s interest, a suspenseful plot, and vivid description.

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

I have no set formula. I start with the two major characters, give them a history and create conflicts for them to overcome on their way to a happy ending.

Merging fact with fiction has created some of my characters. Tom McGuire, who gives Sarah and the O’Malleys’ employment in his Jenny Lind Theater, was a real person, so was Mayor Geary.  

I invented Sean, to show how sailors were often robbed by their landladies.  He appears on the street covered by only a blanket and asks the O’Malleys for help. Since he is a fellow Irishman, the O’Malleys bring him home and give him clothes. I had no intention of keeping him in the story, but he wouldn’t go away. He falls in love with Sarah and causes all sorts of trouble.

Sometimes, I use a factual incident and place my fictional character in it. France wanted to get rid of its excess prostitutes so they loaded them on a boat and shipped them to San Francisco. Lily is a fictional character, but I used this incident to show how she came to California.

What book are you reading now? Any favorite authors/books you want to do a shout out for?

I love everything Marilyn Meredith writes, especially her Rocky Bluff series. Raging Water is my favorite. I read about 35 to 50 books a year, literary, romance, biography, history

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Read, quilt, exercise, make Barbie doll clothes, listen to music, and be with my husband

Are you a morning person or night person? 


Coffee, tea or other drink to get you moving in the morning? 

I drink water most of the time.

What is coming up from you in 2013? Anything you want to tease us with?

Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book explores the difficulties young illegal immigrants face and the shadow world they live in.      

Elena Hernandez’s parents are suddenly taken away by uniformed men, and she believes they were deported to Mexico. Only seventeen, she is left to care for her younger brother, Miguel and sister, Lupe. Elena struggles to support her family while pursuing an education. When a mysterious caller demands money for her parents’ return, Elena must choose between helping her parents or going to the police and risking deportation.

What or who has helped you the most as a writer?

The Porterville Writers Workshop meets in my home every week. My fellow writers have helped me improve my writing, cheered my successes and become life-long friends.

About Sarah Darlin'
Oak Tree Press
Buy at Publisher / Amazon

English aristocrat, Richard Moresby, seeks his fortune in the California gold fields so he can reclaim his ancestral estate. But when he meets spirited Sarah O’Malley at the Jenny Lind Theater, his thoughts of England fade.
Accustomed to rebuffing male attentions in 1850s San Francisco, Sarah is surprised to find Richard intrigues and excites her, but she knows Moresby’s rakish reputation and fears damaging hers, so she rebuffs him.
Moresby persists, and continues to pursue her, but before they can declare their love, they must deal with prejudice, a murder trial, a lynching party, a fire at the Jenny Lind and a terrible secret from Sarah’s past.

Teaser Excerpt:
            Although it was still chilly, the sun had burned away the early morning fog in San Francisco Bay. Hundreds of clipper ships, abandoned by their crews for the gold fields rotted in the mud, their masts and riggings tangled like spiders’ webs. Seagulls landed on the wharf to peck at bits of food dropped by vendors and careless eaters.
Moist, salty air ticked Sarah O’Malley’s nose. She chuckled to herself, delighted to be nearly invisible in the bustling crowd.
Her disguise was working. In Patrick’s clothes she looked like a boy. It was wonderful to go wherever she wanted and not be stared at. She had enough of that when she sang at the Jenny Lind Theater.
San Francisco attracted men, but the few women who lived there were either married or prostitutes. Sarah had already received four marriage proposals from strangers, and one ardent admirer had thrown pebbles at her window every night until Patrick ran him off with a shotgun.
She was too small to pass for a grown man, but young boys from clipper ships were about her size and many of them wore castoff clothes.
Pleased with her freedom, Sarah watched as new ships carefully navigated through the graveyard of vessels to reach the Clay Street Wharf and deposit their passengers.
Suddenly, she felt her arm twisted behind her back. A man whispered, “Just do as I say an’ there’ll be no trouble.”
Sarah tired to escape, but the man held her fast.
“Come along!” the voice behind her threatened. “Don’t say nothin’ or I’ll shove this knife in your gut.”
Once more she tried to pull away, but pain shot though her arm. Jostled by the crowd, her abductor propelled her forward.
Dear God, couldn’t somebody see how frightened she was and help her?
“Sausages! Hot coffee! Get them here!” A man thrust a tray of bread, meat and a tin of scalding coffee in front of Sarah, but her abductor pushed the vendor away.
Alta California! Alta California!” chanted a newsboy as he waved a copy of the paper.
Sarah mouthed the words, “Help me,” but the boy didn’t respond.
A runner for a sailors’ boarding house approached. “Come with me mates. I’ve a good house and food like your mother used to make.”
“Be off with you now,” growled her abductor.
Sarah shook her head slightly toward her captor, trying to get the runner’s attention, but he ignored her and moved on.
Images flashed before her. Was he going to take her to a deserted spot and rob her? Was he going to hold her for ransom?
Trembling with fear, Sarah could barely walk. “Please don’t hurt me,” she pleaded. “Let me go.”
“Now lad,” her tormentor replied. “There’s many a boy who’s fond of the sea. You’ll soon be getting’ the hang of it. You’re a scrawny thing, but the sea’ll make a man o’ you.”
Sarah’s mouth went dry with fear. She was being shanghaied! A new terror seized her. What would they do when they found out she was a woman?


SHIRLEY SKUFCA HICKMAN was brought up in a Colorado coal mining town and wrote about those early years in her first book.

She graduated with a B.A. from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado and later earned two Master of Arts degrees. Her love of language led her to a career teaching English and to leadership roles on the state, regional and local levels. She received numerous awards including Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

She founded the Porterville Writer’s Workshop which has flourished for many years. She is also a published poet and her nonfiction has won awards. Her short story won an honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest. She has also written a column for the local newspaper about educational issues.

Currently she operates a private tutoring business.

Welcome Kelli A. Wilkins today

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