Monday, April 07, 2014

Melissa Keir is in the Garden!

Another week in the garden, how I wish the weather would warm up. Everyone, grab a blanket, food, drink, and find a heater to snuggle up to, we have a guest! Please welcome Melissa Keir, winner of the February 2014 Reader’s choice award for her Chalkboard Romance, to Mary’s Garden!

Mary: Let’s get started, shall we? If any of you want to read her bio from her Web site, here it is: However, I want to hear between the lines. Melissa what do you as a person, not the author, do for fun?

Melissa: Thank you for having me Mary. I’ll just wrap this blanket around me like a toga and there we go! Do you think we are going to ever have spring? For fun, I love to wrap myself up on the couch and curl up with a book. The doggies lay with me and we even light up the fireplace. It’s a perfect way to spend a cool day. I enjoy spending time in the garden. I have a horrible brown thumb so nothing much grows but I plan out and plant veggies each year, then promptly give them over to my husband’s loving care.

Mary: What is the one thing on you bucket list that no matter what YOU ARE GOING TO DO before it’s too late?

Melissa: I am going to visit England. My dad made the trip a few years ago and loved it. He visited the places that still carry our family name. To walk in the streets or places that history has happened, to visit the cathedrals and museums…To have a pint at Watling’s Pub. That would be a dream come true!

Mary: See! Trips, are the best. I'm going to visit Ireland! Okay, to continue, now my curiosity is out of the way, tell us about your book that won the award, Chalkboard Romance.

Melissa: Chalkboard Romance is the tale of a one-night stand, which turns out to be a perfect match. When Lauren, a divorced teacher realizes that she could fall for the guy she’d been matched with, she bolts without leaving her last name or contact information. She thinks her heart is safe until he arrives at her school. Her one-night stand is the widowed father of one of her students. Conflicts ensue, as Lauren has to learn to trust her heart.

I love that Chalkboard Romance won the award based on votes from readers. It is also a recommended read from the SSLY blog who reviewed it. Knowing that readers have connected with Lauren and Mac, has meant the world to me.

Mary: What type of books do you write? Do you write only one type of genre, or many?

Melissa: My books are contemporary erotic romance novellas. Each story features small town living where everyone knows who you are and has a deep understanding of communities. I have only written in this genre. However, I may someday branch out.

Mary: What is the one thing a mentor or a workshop speaker told you that has helped your career?

Melissa: I am very fortunate to have many mentors in this business. My favorite piece of advice came from Liz Crowe early on in my career. She was the one who encouraged me to submit my first story to a publishing house. She said, “You have to try or you’ll regret it.” I did submit and got the contract. Since then, I call her my fairy godmother.

Mary: Do you a new release coming? If so, can you tell us a bit about it? Or what are you working on currently?

Melissa: I am working on edits right now for the second edition of Protecting His Wolfe. I had received the story back and have made changes to the story to deepen the mystery and connect Protecting His Wolfe to the sequel. Protecting His Wolfe is the first book in the Pigg Detective Agency Series about the oldest Pigg brother. Jonah Pigg is a police detective and has heard all the bad jokes about “Pigs and the Police department”. When he meets Betsie Wolfe, a murder witness, sparks fly. But when she is targeted by the murder, he has to protect her with his life.

I hope to have this book released by this summer. You can check out the cover and book trailer on my website for Protecting His Wolfe.

Mary: Where can your fans find you? Web site, social media, blog, and any place else you can share!

Melissa: Fans can find me on my website (
I have pages and information on all my books on the website as well as book trailers and a blog that hosts author giveaways and reviews.
I am also on Facebook and Author page
and Twitter (@melissa_keir).
I have an Amazon page
as well as a Pinterest site

Buy Links:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you, Melissa, for letting us get to know you better! Come back and visit.

Thank you Mary for having me and sharing your blanket with me. I hope spring comes soon. We are sure ready for it after this winter!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A visit with Anna Stewart

Welcome to Mary’s Garden! Today we have a two in one! Anna Stewart is visiting and I’m sure you’ll catch on to what I mean without me explaining. The weather had been a bit warm, now we’re back to cold so grab a blanket, food, and a chair. I’ve turned up the heaters so everyone will be comfortable. And here we go!

Mary: Before we talk author stuff, let’s find out about Anna, the person. What are you favorite things to do, places to visit, where did you grow up, things like that. Things, not on your web site bio. However, if anyone is curious you can check out her bio here

Anna: And I worked so hard on that bio! Okay, I grew up in San Francisco (Sunset District near the beach) in a lovely neighborhood filled with shops and diners and a fabulous used bookstore. I attended 12 years of Catholic school (K-12) and then moved north just after graduating from high school. I was a dancer from the age of 3 until about sixteen: tap, ballet, acrobatics, and jazz. I dabbled in gymnastics, but I really loved dance. My main talent was walking on my hands or standing on my elbows--I've got pictures somewhere, I swear!

I'm definitely a geek at heart and I think my TV and movie viewing has shaped what I write. I love attending fan conventions for my favorite shows--I've been to the Las Vegas Supernatural con as well as a couple in Los Angeles. Star Trek Conventions are a hoot and I recently ventured into my first Comic Con which was held in my town. SO much fun--although the crowds take some getting used to. Being up close and personal with the actors is a rush. Finding out you're not the only crazy one on the planet is a bonus. :)

I love to travel (despite hating to fly) and I've been pretty fortunate to have visited Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and Israel. My best friend (and con buddy) Mary and I do a big trip every couple of years (when we don't do Disneyland). We've done a 3 week bus tour through England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and while I've been to Hawaii numerous times, she never has, so that's where we are headed next. Top of my "someday" list is Australia and New Zealand. Other than that, I'm pretty much a homebody. I used to do a lot of dollhouse miniature projects, but just don't have the time anymore. But I really miss it.

Mary: Now, why did I say two in one? Because, Anna is a split personality! Not really she has two genres she writes in. Two web sites, etc. Please tell us a bit about each.

Anna: Funny how the universe likes to play tricks on you. My first love is writing paranormal romance. That's not to say I don't love contemporary, but when I think about writing, my mind goes to the magical. I was convinced THE DEVIL SHE KNOWS, my GH finaling book from 2012 was going to be THE book, so I put my branding efforts into a penname (AJ Stewart), developing a website, creating a logo (okay, I had lots of help with the last two), and putting everything I had into that series of books.

And then the book went nowhere. New York didn't know what to do with them (I received some lovely rejections). I wasn't in a position to self-publish, nor did that direction appeal to me. Don't get me wrong, I think self-pubbing is great for some people, but it was not the right choice for me. New York was still the had been for years and I wasn't ready to abandon that hope just yet. So to get my foot in the door (hopefully), I switched genres and dug out my very first book, which was a contemporary romance.

Around this same time, two of my critique partners and I came up with a Christmas anthology idea for Harlequin Heartwarming (their sweet romance line) and just as I got word the anthology was being bought, I received an offer from Berkley's INTERMIX line that they wanted to buy the contemporary, along with the two sequels I have planned. So I'm now balancing between the two names and two genres. While my focus right now is on the contemporaries, the paranormals are never far from my thoughts. Those will get out there, too. Just a matter of time (I hope!)

Mary: Congratulations on your Novella that will be coming out in December 2014, how did that happen? And gives us a tease, please!

Anna: Skype can work all kinds of magic, LOL. Because my critique partners are all over the country, we meet online once a week to critique, or brainstorm plots, or to get each other out of writing corners we've gotten stuck in. This particular evening was just after RWA National 2013 and my one friend mentioned that she'd talked to her editor about an anthology idea and presented the idea to us. Within a couple of hours, we had a solid idea inspired by LOVE, ACTUALLY (one of my favorite movies) and we're tentatively calling this collection CHRISTMAS, ACTUALLY. My favorite part of the movie is how everyone turns out to be connected and comes together at the end scenes. So we ran with it and yay! Harlequin bought it.

The anthology is about the Banning siblings who live in the fictional town of Christmas Town, Maine, and find love during the holiday season. My story, THE CHRISTMAS WISH, is about second-grade teacher Callie Banning, who is faced with a new student who has declared war on Christmas. The precocious little girl is being raised by her widowed (and Irish) father Dean Galloway and it's up to Callie and Dean to prove to his daughter just how magical Christmas can be. Anna Adams will kick off the anthology with THE CHRISTMAS DATE (Callie's oldest brother) and Melinda Curtis will wrap all three stories up in THE CHRISTMAS DATE (brother number 2). I think this anthology will appeal to a wide range of readers as each of us brings a different tone and voice to sweet romance. This project is definitely different from the series Berkley bought.

Mary: One of my favorite movies is Love, Actually. In fact, I told one of my critique partners just the other day she had to watch it.

Berkley series? WOW I’m so excited for you. Where were you when you got the call? Of was it dramatic as that sounds?

Anna: I never do anything in a predictable way, so my call came via Internet. My agent and I communicate primarily through Facebook, which I find so funny. She messaged me that we had an offer. I am proof not all time spent on Facebook is wasted! My hands were shaking so bad I could barely type. I can tell you no matter how the news comes, it's an adrenaline rush. Followed quickly by panic as you realize you're now writing for other people (and a paycheck). It just got real! It was also a validation--that the gamble I took by going back to my first book was worth the risk and got me where I wanted to be. Berkley has always been one of my dream houses and I'm really excited to be working with their team.

Mary: Tell us a bit about RWA’s Golden Heart.

Anna: Well, there's "the call", LOL. That morning is so crystal clear in my mind, I can see it playing out like a movie. I had the date marked on my calendar--this was the third time I'd entered, the second time with this particular manuscript. And then seven a.m. came and went, seven-thirty. Eight. Eight fifteen. And I figured yet again, nothing would come of it . So I was boiling water for a self-pity cup of hot chocolate (my writer buddies and I have a rule that you get 24 hours to sulk over bad news) while my mom was trying to cheer me up. Just as she went into the garage to throw the trash out, the phone rang. I think any GH finalist will agree that there's a certain magic that hits with this final. It's another step up the rung and doors open, whether you're welcomed inside or not. Those six months after finaling, you're soaring as a writer and for me, it was the sign I needed that I hadn't wasted the umpteen years I'd spent learning the craft. I wouldn't have signed with my first agent without that final, which led me to my current agent and my subsequent sales. The stars aligned that morning of the GH call and I'm still riding the after effect.

Mary: Please share with us, something that you always want and interviewer to ask, but never does. And what your answer would be.

Anna: How about if I were a tree what kind of tree would I be? ALDER! I'm joking (and probably showing my age with that one). I think it would be who's been your biggest writing influence to which I'd say (and wouldn't be surprise anyone who knows me) Nora Roberts followed by Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Sherrilyn Kenyon. That should give you some insights on my style of writing. But I'd be totally remiss not to mention the incredible friends I've made since becoming a writer and who have inspired me personally. Brenda Novak, who gave me a job and who constantly encourages me to follow my dreams. Melinda Curtis who became my mentor whether she wanted to or not. My critique partners Cari Gunsallus, Judy Ashley, Sarah Palmero, Janina Henderson and Anna Adams. They've all been so supportive and have each provided shoulders to cry on or popped the champagne with me. And the incredible members of my local chapter. They all inspire me...and make me keep doing what I'm doing. But most of all, my mom, who was the one to tell me to join RWA, then SVR, and has always, always believed in me.

Mary: I love Nora, Stephen, and Sherrilyn. Not much of a Dean Koontz fan, but that's only because I only have time to read so much! LOL Last but not least, your links… Social media, blogs, etc. etc. etc.

Anna: I pretty much stick to Facebook and Twitter @ajstewartwriter although I was immediately welcomed to the Harlequin Heartwarming Blog and I contribute one Friday a month. My websites are and (the latter has a page showcasing some miniature projects I've completed if anyone's interested). I would love for people to stop by, drop me a line, and join my "news only" mailing list. Thank you so much for hosting me today, Mary. This has been a real blast and lovely trip down memory lane. Oh, and if those of you visiting haven't already, pop over to and register to shop for her 10th Anniversary Online Auction! Can't forget the day job. :)

Thank you, Anna, for visiting us today! I've had a blast getting to know you better! And finding out how much we have in common. I hope you can drop by for a visit another time.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Beau Coup Author Isobelle Cate

Please welcome Isobelle Cate to Mary's Garden! She's a new author to me, so we'll all be getting to know her together. It's finally starting to warm up it's almost spring here in the garden. But as you can see there are still a few heaters around. Now, don't be shy, gather some goodies from the table along with you favorite beverage. Find a seat and let's begin.

First a little bit about Isobelle.
Isobelle Cate is a woman who wears different masks. Mother-writer, wife-professional, scholar-novelist. Currently living in Manchester, she has been drawn to the little known, the secret stories, about the people and the nations: the English, the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh, and those who are now part of these nations whatever their origins. Her vision and passion are fueled by her interest and background in history and paradoxically, shaped by growing up in a clan steeped in lore, loyalty, and legend.

Isobelle is intrigued by forces that simmer beneath the surface of these cultures, the hidden passions, unsaid desires, and yearnings unfulfilled.

The Mana Series, Mana is Filipino for ‘legacy’.
It is 1607. The Spanish have landed on the shores of the Philippines to pacify the natives, convert them to Christianity, and mine the islands for its gold.

Headstrong and loyal, Lakam, a Babaylan, refuses to submit to Spanish imperial authority and convert to Christianity. With her village destroyed and her people killed, she seeks refuge in the Cave of Rituals in the jungle vastness of the sacred mountains, but she is caught, raped and tortured. On the eve of her execution, she regains her freedom with the help of her jailer, Joaquin Santiago, who refuses to see her killed. Now a remontada (outlaw), Lakam realizes the old ways will cease to exist unless she finds a way for it to continue in the ruined ashes of the world she knows

“Will you convert?” Fray Moreno’s disembodied voice came from the shadows after one session of whipping.

“You expect me to convert after what all of you have done to me?” Lakam asked, hysterical laughter bubbling inside her. The gash on her lower lip opened bringing sharp pain. She continued, “I’d rather die than join you.”

“Then you will rot in Hell.”

Lakam looked up. “If what you call Hell is filled with never ending torture with people who find pleasure in the pain of others, I am already in it. You are the evil one in the flesh.” Fray Moreno walked towards the battered and bruised Lakam.
“Why do you persist on doing this to yourself?” his voice was as thin as a reed.

“I have done nothing wrong!” Lakam cried.

“Not believing in God is a sin.”

“And who gave you the right to purge this so called sin by violating me? Does this man on the cross you call God allow you to rape my people and take our wealth in the guise of saving souls? How many more do you have to defile?” she lashed.

Lakam thought her head would crack from the force of the slap on the side of her head. Her head lolled from side to side before it stopped and remained bowed. Her once flowing and shiny hair, now mottled with sweat and blood, partially covered a face nearly beaten to a pulp. Her arms, tied around the chair she was sitting on ached painfully at the tightness of her bonds; but she refused to give her torturers the satisfaction of seeing her in pain. She forced herself to remember the chants that would deaden the pain and that would take her partially out of her body to give her a chance to think.

“Bathala will speak to your God to damn you to the land of all evil. Then you will truly know what Hell is.” She murmured through her hair.

“If you convert and pay tribute in gold to the Crown as subjects of the king, all this pain will stop.” Fray Moreno knelt in front of her bloodied form. She looked at the vile object in front of her through the crumpled curtain of her hair. With all the strength she could muster, she spat at his face catching him off guard.

“What are you after exactly? The conversion of my people or the coveting of our gold? No matter what you do you will not get anything from me. Nunca!” Lakam hissed.

Fray Moreno grabbed a handful of hair jerking her head, forcing her to look at his face filled with hatred and lustful longing. Lakam winced.

“Then you will die.”

Fray Moreno shoved her back so hard her chair tipped backward and remained on one side. She screamed in agony as the fall dislocated her shoulder.

“Prepare her to meet her Bathala, Teniente.” Fray Moreno said without emotion to the lieutenant who had watched everything from the dark corner of the cell. “She dies at dawn.”

Tears trickled down Lakam’s cheeks. It crossed over the bridge of her nose before creating a puddle on the stone floor.

Lakam smiled through her cracked lips.

It would finally be over.

Here are some places you can find Isobelle.

Thank you, Isobelle, for joining us in the garden today. I enjoyed getting to know a little about you and your new story.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Guest - Marie Higgins

Everyone please settle in, we have a guest blogger in the garden today. I'm sure you remember Marie Higgins from past interviews. Today though, she is doing a post and not an interview. As usual all the goodies are set up on the table. Grab a plate and a beverage, find a seat and enjoy.

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. ~Albert Enistein

Never close your lips to those whom you have already opened your heart.” ~Charles Dickens

Is not a kiss the very autograph of love? ~Henry Finck

How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shape of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said… ~Victor Hugo

If you can’t tell by now, the topic of my blog today is about kissing. I think this is a great time to discuss kissing since February is the month of love…Valentine’s Day!

Being a romance writer, this topic has to be in my mind while I’m writing a story. After all, what good is a romance novel if the hero and heroine aren’t going to kiss? When I write my stories, I’m caught up in the romance along with the hero and heroine. Along with the heroine, I’m anticipating that first kiss.

One thing that makes me upset more than anything while I’m reading is if the writer makes me wait until the last chapter before the hero and heroine kiss. I mainly write historical romance, and we are taught that back in those days the man didn’t make a move to kiss a woman until they were betrothed or even wed. Think of the movie Pride and Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth, since it’s my favorite). Mr. Darcy didn’t kiss Elizabeth until after they were married and the end of the movie. Although I loved that movie, I was upset because he didn’t try to kiss her sooner. Another favorite movie of mine is North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell’s love story about a middle-class southerner who is forced to move to the northern town of Milton, England. I adored this story with the actor Richard Armitage as John Thornton. He was sooo sexy! Eh-hum, okay, back to the subject… In that story, he didn’t kiss her until the very end, which was the most perfect kiss!! (dreamy sigh)

However, in my stories I believe those perfect kisses can come sooner. Granted, the hero and heroine still have to get to know each other, which of course happens slowly throughout the book, but come on…we can have kisses before the wedding day – or end of the book, can’t we? I love to read as the characters are struggling with their feelings for each other, especially after they have received that first kiss that pretty much made them weak in the knees.

Here is a part from my latest release, my time-travel romance, “Love Lost in Time”. But before I let you read the snippet, here is the blurb:

Andrew Merrick was whisked from his home in England, 1848 to another time, the very day a mob had attacked his family. Wondering why he remains in this strange place, all he wants is to find the treasure his father had hidden, hoping this might take Andrew back home. But he’s running out of time. When he meets a lovely woman in this new century, he feels she is the one who will help him.

Halle Chapman has come to England to find her missing father. What she finds instead is a nice man who claims he’s from the past. Although she doesn’t believe in time-travel, deep in her heart, she knows she must help Andrew. What she finds instead is that discovering the key to her future lies in the past. Now, to return to her own time, she needs to solve the mystery surrounding Andrew Merrick and his family’s murder.

“It’s certainly a lovely night,” Andrew said only because he didn’t know what else to say. He didn’t want to ask her about the outburst she had inside until he was sure nobody else was around to listen.

“Hmm…yes, it is.” She peeked at him before dropping her gaze back to the path they walked.

“I must say, Miss Chapman, I’m surprised at your loss for words.”

Laughing, she met his gaze again. “You’re surprised? I’m completely floored!”

He shook his head. “Your choice of words certainly makes you more interesting.”

She grinned. “Which I suppose can only be a good thing, correct?”

He didn’t answer, just continued walking. They headed for a cluster of trees. He scanned the area around them, and when nobody was nearby, he grasped her hand and pulled her back into an alcove. Shadows surrounded them, making them much more secluded. She stood in front of him with downcast eyes, still wringing her hands. Even though she confused him greatly, she was still a very beautiful woman. Breathtaking, in fact.

“Will you now tell me who the man is that you saw? And why, pray tell, did you cause such an embarrassing scene in there?” He lifted her chin with his finger until her eyes met his. “It surprised me to see Nigel…” She paused and then shrugged. “Actually, I’m not sure if Nigel is his first name or last.”

“How do you know him?” Andrew asked.

“He was the front desk clerk at the bed and breakfast…the inn where I was staying before I came here.”

“Why were you so surprised to see him here?”

“Well…” She took another noisy swallow. “Because I didn’t expect to see him here. I mean, I thought he was from my time—not yours.”

A slight pound knocked against Andrew’s skull. What in the blazes was Miss Chapman talking about? “Why do you say that? I’ve heard you say it that way a few occasions. Pray tell, what does time have to do with it?”

“Believe it or not, time has everything to do with it. I wouldn’t be here if not for time. I would have never met you if not for time.”

Andrew rubbed his forehead, baffled.

She reached up and took hold of his hand, moving it away from his head. She kept it in her grasp as she ran her thumb across his knuckles. She was a bold woman to touch him in such a personal way. Yet it amazed him to think this small gesture softened his heart, and eased his headache slightly.

“My words are going to become very confusing here shortly. I just want to make sure you are prepared for what I have to tell you. I desperately want you to understand what I’m about to say. It would kill me if you don’t understand or believe me.”

The pleading in her eyes let him know how important this was. Whatever she had to say, she struggled with it, yet she acted as if she wanted to deliver the news to him in a calm, gentle manner.

“Tell me.”

Softly, her fingers stroked his hand. Her touch was so very tender. So soothing. Affectionate. And so very personal. A different emotion leapt inside of him, and once again, he received the impression they had known each other before, but he knew not where. Now as she touched him, peace settled inside him. He was not as confused as he’d been moments earlier, and it really didn’t matter what explanation she gave about her confusing actions. As long as she continued to gaze into his eyes and stroke his hand…he was fine.

Little by little, he became mesmerized by the passion in her green eyes—the way her gaze slid over his face slowly from the top of his head, to his eyes, his nose, and to rest of his mouth. The lovely color of her eyes darkened, which made the desire he had for this incredible, interesting woman kick up a notch. For a fleeting moment, nothing else mattered but holding her. This woman made his thoughts jumbled, yet all he wanted to do was close his eyes and enjoy her touch. The moonlight peeked through the leaves and highlighted her hair, making the golden strands in her locks stand out more. It took all of his willpower not to pull the pins from her hair and admire the way her length tumbled over her shoulders in a seductive manner.

With his free hand, he cupped her face. She gasped, but then a dreamy sigh quickly followed as she stared deeply into his eyes. She even snuggled closer to his touch.

Never before had a woman’s reaction to his caress been so rattling, but he knew without a doubt Miss Chapman was attracted to him…nearly as much as he was attracted to her. He wouldn’t stop to question why things were happening so quickly. There was time for that later. Now, all he wanted to do was…

He moved his hands in a different direction as he circled them around her and pulled her up against is body. Her palms rested comfortably on his chest, and he was certain she could feel the quick beat of his heart. When her attention dropped to his mouth once again, his breathing became ragged.

“What are you doing to me?” he whispered, lowering his head. “And more importantly, why do I not want to stop this from happening?”

“Then let it happen,” she muttered before his lips silenced hers.

She slid her arms up to link behind his neck. They kissed with gentleness at first, hesitantly, before growing bolder. Excitement rushed through him, knowing she was enjoying this as well. He yanked her against him and tightened her in his embrace, tilting his head to deepen the kiss. She didn’t kiss like a mere maid, yet he knew in his heart she wasn’t an experienced harlot, either. Her passionate kiss shocked his system as warmth spread through every nerve in his body. Desire strummed inside him, and he realized kissing her felt…right. Perfect. And he never wanted this to end.

Now I’d like to know about your first kiss. What first kiss stands out in your mind that made you weak in the knees? Or if you have a favorite movie you enjoyed watching and loved their first kiss, please share! Please leave a comment with your name and email address, for a chance to win a free PDF copy of my story, “Love Lost in Time”.
Watch the book trailer.

Marie Higgins is a best-selling, multi-published author of sweet romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who make your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. Visit her website / blog to discover more about her – Find her on Facebook – And Twitter - @MarieHigginsXOX

Saturday, February 15, 2014

And the winner is....

This past week, myself, and four other authors had a Valentine Blog party! Thank you to all who participated! There were five questions people had to answer and email the answers to. Here are the questions along with their answers.

Amy's Question and answer:
Where did Amy and her husband get engaged? The answer is, Cafe du Monde in New Orleans!!

Marie's Question
What is Eli's father's name and where is he at? The answer is, Joshua Montgomery and he's in a mental institution.

Judy's Question
In the Silver Sage Creek series, Sam Coulson, the Comanche half-breed, had an Indian name. What is it? Answer is, Samarjit

Sheri's question
What does Nerys do to free herself from Gerard's grasp? Answer is: She pulls out a dagger and slices the ends of her hair away that Gerard had wrapped around his fingers.

Mary's Question
Mary's wedding wasn't your typical wedding, where was it? The Answer is: The were married at a University of Utah Tailgating.
And the winner of this great virtual gift basket

Is: Melissa Keir. Congratulations!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Romance is in the air Valentine Party

Welcome to Mary's Garden! It's Valentine's week and there is romance everywhere. To celebrate I've invited a few of my author's to join me in a party, and it's all about romance and love. Think of your favorite love stories, movies, or true experience. Please post because we'd all love to hear!

In honor of the romance of the holiday I have a free read. I have the link to the story at the bottom of this post. Before you get to the bottom though, find out how you can win this fabulous gift basket (Approx. $50)
Marie Higgins: Download of Crazy for You and $5 GC to Amazon
Amy Durham: Download of Dusk and $5 GC (your choice Kindle and Nook)
Mary Martinez: Download of Honky Tonk and $5 GC to Starbucks
Sheri McGathy: Signed Print book Elfen Gold (Please note the paper copy only applies to within the USA. If you live outside of the United States, you will receive a pdf. copy of Elfen Gold in your e-mail.)
Judy Baker: Download of Better She Die and a $5 GC to Amazon

How can you win? You need to answer the five questions listed below. There is a link to where you can find the answer. Email your answers to one of the five participating authors. Deadline 2/14/14 midnight. Winner will be announced along with all of the answers on all blogs on 2/15/14. Good luck.

1. What does Nerys do to free herself from Gerard's grasp? Find answer
2. Mary's wedding wasn't your typical wedding, where was it? Find answer
3. What is Eli's father's name and where is he at? Find Answer
4. Where did Amy and her husband get engaged? Find Answer
5. In the Silver Sage Creek series, Sam Coulson, the Comanche half-breed, had an Indian name. What is it? Find Answer

We'd love for you to comment and tell us your most romantic story, or what your favorite Valentine movie, or song. Happy Valentine's day! No, I didn't forget! Here is the link to my story. Thank you for participating.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sheri McGathy is in the Garden!

Today we welcome Sheri McGathy to the garden. Is she an author? Yes, but today she is here as a cover artist. I’m sure we’ll get around to her book/books sooner or later. Everyone it is still cold so gather some food, find a warm spot by a heater, and let’s begin.

Mary: Let’s start with a little back-story, okay? I know you’re not wearing the author hat, but the design hat. Still, don’t you need a bit of back-story to create a cover? Well we want to know who you are, so give us your back-story. Not the author, not the design, but Sheri’s back-story.

Sheri: Hmmm, never, ever gave that much thought. I grew up amongst some of the best tall tale storytellers imaginable. Or so it seemed to me. My grandmother spoke of covering mirrors for three days when someone died for fear the soul might be trapped within, or how lightning bugs might be fairies, and of course making wishes. She died when I was five, and to this day, I miss her dearly. I grew up in the 60s and 70s…years both simpler than now yet filled with upheaval and protests. I think echoes of that time helped shape much of how I see the world now. I hear the echoes of that time in my thinking, my mannerisms, and see it sometimes in both my art and my writing. Growing up, I was surrounded by musically talented folks who I sometimes think felt a little sorry for me because while I could sing, I never learned to play anything. Well, I can operate a kazoo LOL. My brother was a very talented drummer. My Mom played piano. Dad played guitar and mandolin and was a wonderful woodcrafter, as was his father. If Dad could envision it, he could build it. My mom was the serious, responsible member of the family. I think I am more like my mom, responsible, sometimes too serious, and stubborn. I wish I could have been more like my Dad but contrary to my grandma’s beliefs, we don’t always get what we wish for, but we do most times get what we need to survive. I got my love of magic, elves and the Fey, lore and myth, and esp. my inquisitive nature from Dad’s side of the family. As a child, we moved around quite a bit, living in Ohio, AZ, and Kansas. All cherished experiences that I placed in my “Life” chest for future use. I have been married for 38 years! Sometimes that’s hard for me to realize. And I really am not that old  I have one son, a DIL who is very good for him, and three wonderful grandchildren. I also have two doxies, one black lab and a cat named Kitty who adopted one of my doxies when we moved out to the country. Someone dumped Kitty and he decided he wanted to move in with us.

Mary: Apart from the fact you write, why and how did you get into cover design?

Sheri: I’ve always been into design, but mainly I hand drew things. Sketches, my dogs, trees, greeting cards…people. I loved and still love drawing cartoons, mainly cartoon dogs. I took a lot of art classes, but up until a few years ago, all my creations where for my own pleasure. When I wrote Elfen Gold as a poem (long before it became a book), I drew all the characters out in pencil sketch and at one point thought to copy paste the text and drawings together. This was before I had my personal computer and page layout software. Back in the typewriter days. Once I got my Mac, I sort of fell in love with it and its ability to render graphics. But again, I was still doing graphics for my own pleasure or for family and friends. I got into book cover creation a few years back when I was briefly a partner with an e-Book publishing company. I created simple covers for the authors accepted to the company. After I left, I decided I enjoyed creating covers for others, so hung out my shingle!

Mary: Now maybe you could tell us where you got your design talent? Or not. Your day job is a Graphic Arts Coordinator/Copy Editor in prepress. What exactly does that mean? How does it relate to the design of a cover?

Sheri: I am really a jack-of-all-trades in my day job, but I mainly proof work that has been typeset or created in the Graphic Design Department before it goes to press. I use Photoshop,

QuarkXPress, Word, Illustrator, and Acrobat daily, all software I use at home to create covers. I may not know the software in and out, but using it daily sort of takes away any intimidation. During the day, I check for errors, for position and size of files created in Graphic Design and make sure it conforms to requested guidelines and specs. I also coordinate the workflow. I get to be creative which is nice, but I don’t usually get to design anything. I sure see a lot of creative stuff. Perhaps that charges the brain cells? As to where I get my design talent, what I possess, I think I was born with it. I like to experiment with things, love layering and, especially with my pre-mades, try hard to create a book cover that hints at a story.

Mary: On your web site, (I will link your site here) you have a page with all your cover designs that you’ve created for other authors. You also have a link to pre-made cover designs. What are most in demand? What are the rates compared to working with an author and designing from scratch, as opposed to one you have already made? After you answer that, do many people buy your pre-made covers? Doesn’t an author have a cover already in their mind of what the want?

Sheri: I sell more personal order design covers than anything, but I have been selling my pre-mades. I love creating pre-mades. As mentioned above, I try to create a cover that suggests a story. Prices are pretty much the same. I charge a certain fee plus cost of stock art for an E cover. If your cover isn’t very time-consuming, or there aren’t a lot of changes and remakes, then the price is fairly low for my work. I do charge a small bit extra to create the full flat for a paperback. An example: If you have a pretty straightforward design, and maybe the creation only involves one or two stock art files, depending on the art costs, you might be looking at anywhere from $55 to $70 for a cover creation. (I provide several sizes of the cover, including a high res front.) I usually add an additional $10 for the flat. So those prices are close to the pre-made listings. I think some authors have a clear idea what they want, and some just don’t know. One thing I think an author needs to remember, and I ran into this a lot with the publishing house I was with, many authors think they have to get everything about their book on that front cover, and that everything must match. And they always think their name needs to be tiny!!! First, a cover is a promotional tool as well as a hint as to what is to come…a tease to the reader. It whispers, “Come, read me.” It needs to grab the readers’ attention and then it needs to express the genre. And be proud of your name. If you don’t think you deserve star treatment, who else will? And don’t be afraid to cover parts of your cover with text. Text is important too!

Mary: Congratulations! I see that you are a 2014 EPIC Ariana Awards Finalist (cover award) for the category of Romance for Payton’s Woman by Marilyn Yarbrough. That is awesome!
Sheri: Thank you. I really enjoyed creating that cover. Marilyn is an author who knows exactly what she wants even if she doesn’t know it until she sees it. I enjoy working with her. I have several clients who bring out the best in me. I also actually like it when the author works with me to pick out the stock art they’d like me to try. I work with comps first. The author knows better than me what their characters look like, etc.

Mary: Now, finally, can you please share with us a bit about what type of books you write?

Sheri: I write mostly adventure and/or fantasy based on lore with almost always a gentle romantic thread woven into the story. Very clean. I have also written a few ghost stories and even a chapter for a writing guide on the Fey, but fantasy is my love.

Mary: We’re ready for a blurb and buy link of your latest book. Also, your web site, where you can be found on social media, etc.?

Sheri: My latest I guess is Summersong which is a novella I wrote that appears in a duet type book with Shannah Biondine.

Winds of Forevermore

Shannah Biondine and Sheri L. McGathy team up to deliver twice the mystical adventure in this enthralling fantasy duet. Here are faraway worlds of danger and intrigue, magic and enchantment, where mirrors hold strange and dark secrets.

A Varlet’s Bond
Captain Praxis, wyvern rider, former slave turned royal reeve and bounty hunter, has never forgotten her brief partnership with Prince Zavend of Glacia. (Mourn a Moonreft Sky). Years have passed and now find Praxis a wealthy woman and sometime comrade of Zavend’s disreputable brother, Vitus. A twist of fate draws all three back to the heart of Glacia, where an evil is spreading across the land. Can anyone or any sworn oath be trusted? Will Praxis find her heart soaring higher than a wyvern, or crushed once and for all?

Winner of the 2009 Eppie for Anthology – Single Title Story/Novella

Summersong, a magical border Keep created to maintain the fragile peace between Man and Faery, has lost its glory, its grandeur, and its loyal guardians. The land is dark, filled with turmoil. Yet, one bright glimmer of hope still exists. Long ago, Myree, daughter of a proud nobleman, made a childish vow of undying love in a secluded garden to an equally young Connair. Now grown, both have not forgotten their pledges. When Myree is abducted into a realm of shadows, Connair risks everything in his quest to save her and recover the heart of Summersong.

What Others are Saying:
“Shannah Biondine and Sheri L. McGathy craft magical tales of sibling rivalry and romance, self-discovery and love. Rich in likeable badgers, dragons, and faeries, and compelling with dark Ebons and haunted mirrors, Biondine’s skillful plot twist and McGathy’s imaginative, lyrical prose make this duet a read you won’t want to miss.”
~ Linda Madl, author of A Tender Magic

“Stories told under the stars weave a magic that is all their own. Here two storytellers tell us of love and magic. Two different times and places, and yet the magic they speak of is ancient and true. Sit by their fire and listen to their tales and find the magic in your own soul.”
~ Carol Hightshoe, author of the Chaos Reigns Saga

The book is available as a Kindle e-book and as a paperback. Amazon

Mary: Oh, and I almost forgot… NOT! Sheri designed the cover for my upcoming Illusion (Book IV of the Beckett Series). I love the cover. In honor of Sheri visiting my Garden I am unveiling the new cover!

When the Chief Financial Officer of the World Bank Group (WBG) is found dead in his Paris apartment, it’s a concern. But when the Chief Administration Officer of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, another WBG agency, is murdered on vacation, in the same fashion, it’s time to call in the FBI’s special terrorist task force.

Special Agent Reagan Beckett specializes in terrorists focused on shipping and financial backing, two major threats to the west coast. When a new threat looked toward one of the biggest worldwide financial institutions, she was the logical person for the team.

Reagan’s New York task force team includes a new partner, Paco Luis Perez from D.C., and FBI Special Agent, Spencer Alexander Williams III, advising as the local liaison. To work undercover with these two men, Reagan knows she’ll have to trust them with her life. Her preliminary research indicates both men have excellent records, accommodations to be proud of, and seemingly nothing to cause her much worry. Even Perez’s hot temper might come in handy, while Williams III’s arrogance and powerful Wall Street family could prove useful in tracking down the terrorist.

But Reagan knows one thing—when a terrorist is involved, most likely, there is someone on the inside. Before she can find the threat, she needs help figuring out whom to trust.

Five years ago Reagan left Brooklyn, and not under the best circumstances. Regardless of the strained relationship with her family, she turns to the only people she can count on for support in her quest to determine which man she can literally trust with her life and to bring down the terrorists.

For more details on the other books from The Beckett series check the Web Site.
The release date -- end of 2014.

Thank you, Sheri, for joining us. Also, I couldn’t be more happy with my new cover, thank you! Now that it is unveiled, I’m off to update my web site. Sheri, please come back soon!