BIO: Sarah Maury Swan is the author of three novels, the last two of which she is selling at the upcoming Authors’ Sunday. She is pleased the say she has written stories for the Next Chapter Literary Magazine since its inception in January 2020. At the moment, she is working on a chapter book entitled SPACE JUNK, a young adult novel entitled BAD HAIR DAY, her first ever grown-up’s cozy mystery entitled SERENDIPITY’S CONUNDRUM, and a short story entitled FAIRY’S TOOTHBRUSHES. She lives in Fairfield Harbour with her handsome devil and their cat.
Welcome Sarah Maury Swan to Creekside Café, she might look like a sweet little old lady but she’s a dynamo. She is hosting 34 other authors, myself included at an Authors’ Event at the New Bern Farmers Market, Sunday, November 20th. Sarah, it is so good to have you at my virtual café.
Sarah: Aw shucks, Sherri. You’re definitely a dynamo yourself considering how you took over the reins of Pamlico Writers so seamlessly. And thanks for the delicious cup of herbal tea; the virtual scones were perfect.
Sherri: Well chai tea is one of my favorites. I think you are amazing. You didn’t grow up with computers like today’s kids but you’re fearless about trying new things. Congratulations on your website and blog.
Sarah: That’s because you’re not close enough to hear how much and how often I yell at my computer.
Sherri: I’ve yelled at mine a few times too. I’m very grateful for grandchildren who fix whatever problem I’ve created. How did you and the handsome devil end up in eastern North Carolina?
Sarah: We had a lovely horse farm up in Maryland, but we had to put down three horses, 2 dogs and a cat in the 22 years we were there. The three horses were in the last 5 years we were there. Dale was ready to retire from the consulting business he’d started 30 years earlier, but we both knew he’d never quit if we stayed in Maryland. We had friends who had moved to New Bern, which made the area even more enticing. We’ve loved it ever since we moved here in December of 2010. Of course, not having to deal with blizzards also made this area more inviting.
Sherri: You’re very active in the local writing community, just like organizing this event. What groups do you belong and what else do you do?
Sarah: I belong to the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, HTTPS://SCBWI.org; North Carolina Writers Network, HTTPS://NCWN.org; Carteret Writers, which I was the president from 2012 to 2014, HTTPS://CarteretWriters.org; HTTPS://PamlicoWritersGroup.com, and locally, I belong to 3 critiques groups: Seascribes, where I work on my Young Adult and Middle Grade novels, plus short stories, etc; Kitchen on Trent critique group where I concentrate on short stories and my first ever “grown-ups” novel; and Bogue Group, which is my children’s’ books/stories critique group. Because of COVID, I’ve become fairly proficient on running the groups via Zoom. When I’m not writing, I try to do “retired persons” kinds of stuff like going out to lunch and having my weekly manicure. I read a lot and play some computer games, and I ride my tricycle which I named Gertrude. By the way, Veronica Krug, who is also going to be at the Authors’ Sunday event, is a member of Seascribes as well.
Sherri: Oh, my word, you’re as busy as I am.
On your blog you mentioned you review books for the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database (www.CLCD.com), what is the CLCD and how did you get involved in this?
Sarah: CLCD was founded early in this century to review children’s books for various publishing houses and sending the reviews to libraries and schools. I started reviewing for the company in 2006. At the beginning the books had to be traditionally published, but nowadays self-published/indie books are being considered. I got a 5-star review through the organization for my novel Earthquakes. I did a happy dance then. It’s a very good way to learn what is accepted by publishers and what book buyers are looking for.
Sherri: You’re a horsewoman, is that correct? You mention on your blog that you and the handsome devil had a small horse farm in Maryland. Was your book Emily’s Ride to Courage inspired by true events? https://books2read.com/u/mvX0D2
Sarah: I wrote Emily’s Ride to Courage because we had to put a 9-year-old horse down. That’s very young and he was a sweet horse. Putting any animals down is sad, but horses are big and don’t necessarily go down easily. So, I’m in the house grieving and Grandpa’s voice pipes up in my saying, “Won’t have me no white-hoofed horse. White hooves is weak.” I said to him: “I don’t write for grown-ups, Grandpa,” and made-up Emily. The horse had to be a blood bay because the handsome devil always wanted a bay and we never had one.
Sherri: Have you always been a writer? When did you start writing and when did you first decide to publish?
Sarah: I come from a long line of writers/readers and started telling stories when I was not even a teenager. My career jobs all had to do with writing one way or another, but I didn’t actively try to get published until I was in my late 60s. My first successes were with magazine like Country, Country Extra and also their cookbooks, and the “Fun For Kids” magazines.
Sherri: Are you self-published or traditionally published?
Sarah: I eventually went the self-publishing route because I’m too old to wait around for traditional publishing to publish my books. Emily’s Ride to Courage was the first novel I finished but the second one I published. I sent to Dutton first because I had friendship with one of publishers there. He liked it so well he sent up through all the editors there and they sent it to the marketers who said, “Good book, but we already have a horse book series in the works.” Now if you’re going to get a rejection, that’s not a bad way to get one, so I sent it to Peachtree in Atlanta. The editor there said, “I like the story line and I like your writing, but I’m not connecting with Emily.” I rewrote it in first person and again it went all the way up to the marketers who rejected it because they already had a horse book in the works. Sigh. But at least I knew I had a good story on my hand. Then I wrote the book I published first, Terror’s Identity, which is, at the moment, only available as an e-book through Amazon. Then I published Emily and now I’ve published Earthquakes.
Sherri: I was reading the information for your first novel, Terror’s Identity, it sounds like an interesting read. I had hoped to get a print copy when we meet for our Authors’ Sunday, but I’ll have to settle for eBook. Tell us how you came up with this idea for this book, your research and any other details you’d like to share.
Sarah: Terror came to me after 9-11 when people were being so nasty to any Muslim they come across. So, I wrote the story to make the point that not all Muslims are terrorists. I was very lucky to a have Secret Service agent living behind us and he was quite helpful in learning the way they run things. I wanted the main character to have a lot changes in his life, so I started him in Lake Forest, Illinois, because it’s quite ritzy, and then sent him to Dundalk, Maryland, which most decidedly not ritzy.
Terror’s Identity, Sixteen-year old Aidan Knox’s life turns upside down when he, his sister and his mother enter a witness protection program and begin a dangerous new life because of his father’s work investigating a terrorist organization operating in the U.S. How will he remember the details of his new life with a new name and a made-up past? And will he be able to settle into a new school and all that entails? Whom can he trust, and can he keep his mother and sister safe?
Published January 2016 and is for sale as an e-book through Amazon Books https://books2read.com/u/mqXQAZ
Sherri: It takes a lot to be a published author these days, especially having to wear all of the hats from writer, editor, formatter, publisher, marketer, and promoter. What is your key to keeping your sanity in this business?
Sarah: What? Me sane? I’m glad I have a lot of computer savvy friends who are willing to enlighten me. I also use publishing houses like Sable, Amazon and Jera because they will do a final edit for me. Of those, I liked Sable and Jera. Amazon is quite fond of squeezing as many nickels and dimes out of you as they possibly can. Sable doesn’t have the marketing arm that the last publisher I used has. Jera has connection with IngramSparks/LightningSource which has a page in national/international publishing magazines.
Sherri: I have to ask, what is the weirdest pet you’ve ever owned. We had ferrets and they were unique and stinky, but they had funny personalities. We had a dog we nick-named Houndini because he wouldn’t stay in a pen or on a lead. He got out of his collar, a harness, and even escaped from the local pound when he was picked up for not having his collar.
Sarah: A quirky animal we had was my dressage horse that I had trained from the time he was 4 months old. But he was lots of fun to ride and ended up his life as a therapeutic riding horse. You should have a photo of him there. I took our Tennessee Walking Horse, Rippy, to a clinic one time because I didn’t know much about the breed and what to do with it. Everybody fell in love with him. Turns out you can do just about anything you want to with them, especially jumping. Our dogs were always characters and loving, including our last dog who was a spectacular bird hunting German Shorthaired Pointer named Jake. Now we have a calico cat named Pandie because she was born in August of 2020. Guess why she’s named Pandie.
Sherri: I love World War 2 stories. Your story, Earthquakes sounds like a thriller. Do you like scary stories? Have you ever been in an earthquake?
Sarah: I hate earthquakes. They scare the livin’ bejeezus out of me, but I do like scary stories. I wrote this one in part because it has elements of my mother’s life and my life because I was born in May of 1941. My mother graduated from M.I.T in 1934 with a degree in Physical Chemistry, and then married my father whom she had met through her brother Bill at West Point. After Daddy was shipped to the Philippines the day after I was born, we moved from Ft. Lewis, Washington, to Los Angeles, California. When war broke out my mother went to work for Lockheed and became their first female Tool & Dye designer. She became a “Rosie the Riveter” and was used in all kinds of roles to promote the “War Effort.” After the war she was fired for no other reason than she was a woman taking a man’s job. She was told the men would need to support their families and she should go back to being a housewife. Her question was, “I’m a widow with four children to raise. Who’s going to support us?” Fortunately, she had friends in the Washington, DC area who were instrumental in getting the Cancer Chemotherapy project started at the National Institutes of Health. So, off the Maryland we went. That’s the state I consider my home state.
It’s hard enough dealing with the effects of World War II sending his father and grandfather to the Pacific theater, but now seventeen-year-old Jonathon Thomas has to deal with real and imaginary earthquakes. To make matters worse his school principal has warned him and his schoolmates of potential spies in the neighborhood. How’s he supposed to recognize a spy? And why are his neighbors being murdered? And why are people sneaking into his house to search for something? The only comfort Jonathon finds is when he talks with his girlfriend, Jennifer Murphy. What’s he going to do when he’s banned from leaving his home? Will his recurring nightmare of being swallowed up when an earthquake splits the ground open under his feet turn into reality?
Sherri: If you enjoyed this interview with Sarah Maury Swan join us at the New Bern Famers Market, Sunday, November 20th 1-4 pm for Authors’ Sunday with 35 local authors.
Emily’s Ride to Courage, https://www.amazon.com/Emilys-Ride-Courage-Sarah-Maury
The Rosie the Riveter photo is in Earthquakes and is a photo of my mother doing a Rosie the Riveter event. The photo of me riding my horse is for Emily’s Ride to Courage.
Sarah Maury Swan, author of Terror’s Identity, Emily’s Ride to Courage, and Earthquakes: https://sarahmauryswanlovesbooks.com
The Making of The Americans Are Coming
The making of The Americans Are Coming didn’t just happen overnight. In fact, this book has been simmering for several years. I have taken countless classes through Romance Writers of America and my local group, Heart of Carolina on everything from Horses in Literature to Writing a Historical Novel. I have also been focusing more on the cozy mystery aspect of writing. I have really enjoyed following YouTube Author, Jane Kalmes aka Fiction Technician. Jane had a mystery writers’ course recently I really wanted to take but with my responsibilities with the Pamlico Writers’ Group and the Heart of Carolina, the timing didn’t pan out. But I am really thinking about taking it the next time she offers it.
The kernel of an idea came about thanks to my husband, actually his grandfather. In our home that burned David had a whip that once belonged to his grandfather who’d been a performer in a wild west show. When I heard the story, I knew one day I’d write a character who was a performer in a wild west show. Incidentally, David’s grandfather did an act where he snapped quarters tossed in the air with his whip.
Winnie’s name took several metamorphoses. I originally planned to name her Willowmina but since I used Willow in my contemporary story, Willow’s Retreat, I did not want to confuse myself more than normal. Keeping my characters’ names straight is almost as bad as keeping my children’s names straight. Unfortunately, readers don’t like it when you call the role in a story. My kids probably don’t like being called by the other’s names either but oh well.
Winnie, a nickname for Winona, and Harry her love interest were inspired by good friends I’ve known since my childhood, the parents of one of my dearest friends and school mates. They also became close with my youngest son when he began working with Mr. Harry at the museum. Our backyards connected and so much of our lives intertwined. They always seemed to have a good time together and made being around them fun. I couldn’t think of a better couple to inspire my young sleuths.
As the story came together, Winnie became half Lakota and as I began describing her appearance, I used my granddaughter Phalha to help me get an image of the character. You can see a slightly younger version of the character and Phalha in the original artwork painted by Susan McIntyre. Sue used photos I had of Phalha to create the cover of the book. While Phalha is half Cambodian, not Lakota, looking at pictures of Lakota women, I felt she closely resembled them and gave me a more personal connection to the character.
Since I am not a horsewoman, I needed expert advice to help me flesh out my character as Winnie is a trick rider and caregiver to the animals. I turned to another of my granddaughters, Hailey. Hailey is an accomplished horsewoman who trained her horse Cooper whom others felt was untrainable. Not only did she train him, but she’s won countless awards with him. Hailey answered all of my crazy questions and she inspired much of Winnie’s relationship with her horse and the other animals.
My grandsons Psi and Jack were great about helping me with Riley and Harry, inspiring looks as well as some of the fun things they do from the inventions to their reactions. My husband and my sons were also on hand to answer questions about ‘would this work?’ It’s great to have people around who know things or are willing to research them. My husband has become my accomplice on many of my adventures from helping me plan my murders to planting evidence. If our family decides to turn to crime, it could be bad…really bad.
A lot of research went into this story but I’m sure I didn’t get everything just right. I mean sometimes you have to bend things to get the story to work the way you want it to work.
I am so thankful for my friend Cyn Hayden who gave me information on steamer ships for that one little piece I needed to make the story believable. The ending wouldn’t work without it.
I am also thankful for my local library and the women who work there: Robina Norman, Denise Toler and Myra Shields. These ladies are great at finding things I cannot find online. They are my research assistants, my Beta readers and proofreaders. I cannot thank them enough for always supporting me. They have hosted my book signings and even suggest my books to patrons.
I have several Beta readers who make the story better, stronger, less filled with errors. I said less errors, not error-free, I still manage to get a few of those, sorry. Everyone who reads and gives me feedback, everyone who reviews the stories, they all help me make a better story and I appreciate all the love and support, the encouragement and the occasional kick in the butt I need to get these stories done.
The cover design is by my friend and fellow Pamlico Writers’ Group member, Sue McIntyre. Sue is the author of a memoir, Outside Heaven: An Afghanistan Experience and she is also an artist in residence at the Lemonade Gallery in Washington. She has done two paintings for me for this novel. The first based on a photograph I sent her with just a few ideas. I loved it but as I was finishing The Americans are Coming, I realized I needed to represent the main character better. Since she was half Lakota, an obviously white woman would not be representative. I also wanted the first book to give more of the feel of the wild west show. Using photos of my granddaughter, Sue did a lovely job of depicting Winnie.
While she is younger on the cover than in the story, I still feel it is a great depiction of what the beginning of the series is about. Winnie isn’t exactly innocent, her life even before joining the wild west show was hardly easy, nor was she protected from the harshness of life. But Winnie’s outlook is one of hope and love. Everything she does from trying to solve the murder to breaking up her father’s relationship with one woman and pushing him into a relationship with another, is about love and hope for the future.
The Americans are Coming is a murder mystery, but it also has romance, family drama, friendship and a view into living together harmoniously with diverse characters. Fiction should entertain but it should also make you feel something. I hope when you finish this book you feel the connection and understanding I was trying to convey. Happy reading, y’all.
Print books are suppose to arrive today but they won’t have this cover. If you want books with Sue’s original artwork, they are available at Amazon, and I hope to have them available elsewhere very soon.
Welcome Destiny Swallows to Creekside Café. Destiny is the other half of the writing duo of the debut novel, The Lost Maidens.
1: This is my first Romance novel.
2: I made that helmet behind my head in my photo.
3: I have autism.
4: My wife calls me Loki spawn, so it would be fitting that I’d end up writing an agent of chaos.
5: I did 3 tours of duty in the Navy, which allowed me to travel around the world.
6: If I had another chance, I’d love to return to Germany. I only spent a week in the nation.
7: I can still hear the dial-up sounds, and you got mail when someone says anything about it.
8: As a panster, working with an outliner was interesting, to say the least. Having to plan out the chapters with Ruby was quite the experience.
9: I hold a Batchelor of Science in Computer Security and a Master of Business Administration that I earned in the early 2010’s.
10: I grew up in Portland, Oregon but now live in Colorado. The climate shock between almost a rainforest to the high desert has been interesting.
Bio: Destiny was kidnapped and forced to write this at writer point by Ruby. Having written privately for years, Ruby convinced her friend to share her work with the world. She’s traveled around the world, seeing far-off places that inspire the worlds she writes.
According to your bio you were held at ink point to write this novel. Tell us the truth, we won’t tell a soul. Is Ruby a vicious task master?
Destiny: No, she isn’t. Once she got me to start the project, I was the one with the whips.
Sherri: As a pantser myself, I understand the difficulties you must have faced working with one who plots and outlines. I do try but I’m not consistent. What was the most difficult for you?
Destiny: I tend to have an idea of where I want the book to start and end. From there, I tend to let the characters lead the way, often changing the ending I wrote down. I will build scenes in my mind before I sit down to write, as I feel like outlines are double the work. If you’re writing details already, might as well just write the draft.
Sherri: Oh, I agree. I fast draft, which is like an outline, before going back to hand fruit.
Destiny: Ruby is the type of writer that needs to have an idea what chapter is covering what. To have road signs as she writes and to have the details already worked out.
Sherri: From Ruby’s interview, I know the two of you met through an online writers’ group. What do you usually write?
Destiny: I tend to write Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, and Mythology. It’s wide selection of genres, but they are interesting to research how to provide realism to my novels. I love learning about the subjects I am writing.
Sherri: How did the two of you divide the writing?
Destiny: I wrote for Kaitlyn, while she wrote Alva. We shared the descriptions and NPC’s. As we both are Tabletop RPG players, we let the dice dictate how our combat actions, with a few exceptions for the plot.
Sherri: Tell me about the helmet in the photo. What was it for? You said you made it.
Destiny: I made it for my wife. It is the Lich King Helmet from World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. In 2015, she wanted to go to DragonCon, in Atlanta, as Elsa, the Lich Queen. We made her the helmet and sword, Frostmourne, for her to cosplay. We took cardstock, cut a pattern out for them, glued the pieces into a 3d model. From there, we fiber glassed them and used Bondo (for cars) to harden it and provide shape. My daughter airbrushed both for us.
Sherri: My daughter-in-law and grandchildren took me to a comicon. I enjoyed dressing up. I wish I’d known about using Bondo to fabricate my costumes. He’s a mechanic.
You said you hope to return to Germany, what adventures do you hope to do when you return?
Destiny: As a historical writer, I would like to see the rich history of the area. There is only so much you can understand from books, but physically seeing what happened in the old USSR state, to see the buildings that the Holy Roman Empire was ran from, to see the hills where the Celtics and Romans fought would help me translate that into my novels.
I’ve been to Italy, which allowed me to see the Vatican, Rome, Naples, and other towns on the Mediterranean. I’ve been to England and Ireland. I rather enjoyed their history as well.
Sherri: I love history as well and envy your travels.
The Lost Maidens is a historical, sapphic romance. I know you are married and have your own sapphic romance, but you said you’d never written romance, so how did this come about? Why romance? Why historical? How did this story evolve?
Destiny: Ruby was visiting my wife and I, and we started tossing ideas back and forth. The basic idea came rather quicky, one of us suggested Viking, which lead to a lesbian romance of the pair lost from their tribes. Ruby writes romance, so she talked me into adding it into the story.
Alva and Kaitlyn were not originally enemies to lovers. At best, they didn’t know each other but turned out that the healer cared more about making sure Alva would live than being nice.
Sherri: How did you and your wife meet? And why does she call you Loki?
Destiny: I met her on one of those sites in 2012. We had dinner, and I pretty much never left. It was like magic, as we are both pretty closed off people, that we opened to each other. We’d spend every night after work smoking (bad habit, quit later) and talking on her back porch. We were married in 2015.
I am Loki spawn because if I can cause chaos, I will, just to see what happens. Loki’s role within the Gods was to be an agent of change. I tend to also push my friends to become the best they can be. Because of this, I earned the nickname.
Sherri: Do you use your education in your career?
Destiny: I use my MBA in my career, but my Computer Security degree, I haven’t worked in that field in 7 years. It is a very competitive field.
Sherri: With a degree in computer security, yet you have no social media presence. Has the knowledge kept you from setting up an account?
Destiny: Mostly. I used to use social media a lot, but a few years ago, I said I don’t need this kind of negativity in my life. I walked away from most of them. I rather enjoy the person I am now that I’m not chasing likes and spending so much time doom scrolling. I also kinda forgot to make a Twitter account to promote my books until you asked.
Sherri: Now that your debut novel is ready to go live, what is next? Do you have other books ready to publish? Will The Lost Maidens be part of a series?
Destiny: I don’t have any more books ready to publish, but Ruby and I are talking about writing starting a WW2 Spy Novel series, taking place in the early days of the war in France. We want to tell the stories of the woman who spied for the allies, like Virginia Hall. She had a wooden leg, and managed to cross the Pyrenees mountains, twice with it. She had named it Cuthbert, and her handlers once told her to cut Cuthbert loose if he’s giving her too much trouble.
There are many women who helped the Allies stop Germany. From France, Italy, Russia, and many other places. I hope in the series that we can include stories about the Night Witches (A WW2 Female only Bi-Plane Bomber squadron) and Lyudmila Mikhailovna Pavlichenko, was a Soviet sniper in the Red Army during World War II, who was credited with 309 deaths, making her the most successful female sniper in recorded history.
Sherri: Ah, you are talking to my heart with WW2 stories, especially female spies. I will be happy to do another interview when you get that series up and going.
Thank you for joining us at my Creekside Café. I wish both you and Ruby great success with your debut novel.
If you enjoyed this interview, check out The Lost Maidens pre-order now, it goes live July 19th.
Alva and her wife Lise are on a mission to lead the sassy Princess Kaitlyn to a new land. They will combine clans through Kaitlyn’s marriage to the son of Alva’s chief. Standoffish at first, the pair quickly draw a disdain for one another, unmatched by any sense Thor and Loki.
However, when a storm rocks their world and capsizes their boat, Alva and Kaitlyn are the sole survivors. They are left with the tasks of exploring not only a new world, but also their newfound desires for one another. When the pair comes across a village hidden in the cold Canadian arctic, they embark upon creating a new life with the native people.
As they become one with the Inuit, how will these shield maidens prepare for their biggest threat yet? Will Alva be able to find Lise in their new village? Or will she seek comfort in the arms of Kaitlyn? Will the shield maidens be enough to protect the village from Frost Giants?
Find out in The Lost Maidens!
Trent’s Melody eBook goes live tomorrow. I enjoyed writing this story and discovering who Trent and Melodie are. They both have broken pieces and a shared past. It took several years for them to find the courage to try again but together they are stronger than they are alone. Seeing the beauty of two people coming together and finding their strengths and allowing their person to help them through their weaknesses, that is romance whether in a book, movie or real life.
I have been blessed to find my person. That one person in the world who makes me stronger and helps me be me. I don’t have to pretend when I’m with my husband, he sees the real me and still likes me and I like him. It’s not enough I think to just love and desire each other, though I think that’s a big part of life and romance but sharing a connection that runs deeper. This weekend, I spent time with a couple who really brought out the best in each other. They balanced one another. He taught her to play, and have fun, she showed him that being serious wasn’t boring. Like the fictional couples we adore, sometimes opposites attract but their also has to be a key element that links them together. For my friends and my husband, it is a generosity of spirit, an innate kindness.
In Trent’s Melody, Trent is vulnerable but still strong. He is kind but often tries to hide it. He is afraid to love and open himself up to hurt but along the way he knows, he’s not happy alone so why not take a chance? Life is about taking chances, doing things that scare us. That’s what shows us were alive. I drove down a mountain, climbed a tower, and am scheduled to do some public speaking (my real fear.) I continue to push myself and my characters into uncomfortable situations because I want to continue to grow and learn.
I hope you will read Trent’s Melody and I hope you enjoy it as much I love writing it. The print book is available through Amazon. I have signed copies available upon request. Ebooks are available at most retail locations online and through many libraries. If you have trouble finding any of my books, just contact me and I’ll help you out. Thank you again for being a part of my author journey and taking a chance on me.
What the readers are saying…
Funny, sexy, heart-wrenching, and exciting! K B Davenport
In the latest entry in the Harrell Family Chronicles series, Hollister’s signature thrills, romance, and slice-of-life drama are ever-present. Trent’s Melody is at turns funny, sexy, heart-wrenching, and exciting. Main characters Trent and Melodie are facing down a complicated history. With so much guilt and regret behind them, they struggle to find the good in each other and in themselves.
As always, Hollister manages to provide deeply human drama with peppered comedic relief. There are lots of steamy, romantic moments as well. I really enjoyed the reality series element, as I’m a big fan of home renovation shows. It also gives the characters some interesting stakes beyond their relationships.
The familiar faces from Hollister’s other books in the Harrell Family Chronicles series are nice to see. There’s a sense of family and community in this series that reminds me of my hometown and all the antics that come with it. Fans of suspense and spicy romance will love Trent’s Melody!
Brenda Mayo Jones says…
This book will grab you from the beginning! You get to meet Trent and Melodie who had a past. A past that includes death, music and hometown renovations! You find out how people can put their past behind them and rekindle their love on an entirely new level. One that is more mature. As with most of her books, there is romance, intrigue, a stalker and a couple coming to terms with their differences and learning how to make the best of each other come out in the end! Wonderful story with everything you enjoy in a suspense and romance book all rolled into one!
Marni Graff calls it a compulsive read!
New thrills and chills w/body heat: betrayal takes a back seat to a stalker bent on revenge, when a reno competition brings singer/songwriter Trent back into writer Melodie’s life. But what if her heart and body send a different message? A compulsive read
Trent’s Melody https://books2read.com/u/3n5BWR
Christmas Inn at Teach’s Island https://books2read.com/u/br1XwY
Roxy’s Betrayal https://books2read.com/u/mKd6p9
Janie’s Secret https://books2read.com/u/31eDKv
Willow’s Retreat https://books2read.com/u/4Aj2Kq
Announcing the winner of the song writer competition–
Thank you to everyone who submitted a poem or song to my songwriter contest. I was so amazed by your talent and your willingness to share your work with me. Choosing a song was so difficult. I had to employ a few extra ears. It came down to which song best fit the main character, Trent Harrell and his story.
It is with great honor and excitement that I announce KB Davenport as the winner with his song Free.
KB is the author of Magic in Autumn Springs, as well as the kindle Vella book, Home for Halloween and the Kindle Vella series, Game The Show. https://davenportbooks.wixsite.com/home
Advanced readers needed for Trent’s Melody. I have uploaded the placeholder file for the eBook. If you would like to read it before the last edits I would appreciate your feedback and reviews. The book goes live May 26th.
From drunk on a plane to falling in love in paradise, Trent sang his way into Melodie’s heart. But when the couple is accused of being the cause of her former fiancé’s death, Trent leaves her to handle things on her own. Melodie Henries will never trust Trent Harrell not to bail when things get hard.
A singer/songwriter down on his luck and a novelist, their romance should harmonize but past mistakes pluck a wrong note.
When the two agree to do a battle-of-the-sexes renovation competition, more than their romance flames to life as they become the target of a stalker bent on revenge.
Can they change the tune of an old song, or will their melody fall flat?
Left broken and disillusioned by one reality show, why would Trent ever agree to do another? But given the chance to make things up to the girl he betrayed, Trent Harrell would do anything, even agree to star in a renovation reality show competition.
Trent’s leaving nearly destroyed her, but Melodie Henries refuses to let him do it again. She’s doing the show to promote her books, not rekindle an old flame.
When a stalker blames them for the death of Trent’s former bandmate and Melodie’s former fiancé, the couple must delve into the past for clues. Can they discover the threat in time?
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Synopsis for Trent’s Melody
When Trent believes he’s lost the girl he loves forever to his former best friend and bandmate, he leaves the reality show competition Winning Nashville where their band is favored to win, to drown his sorrows in Mexico.
Melodie is finally brave enough to call Kyle on his bullshit and break things off for good. When she boards the plane to Cancun for her writer’s conference, she has no idea that Trent is on the same plane.
Their whirlwind romance comes to a tragic end when they are summoned back to Nashville for Kyle’s death. When the media blames them for Kyle’s suicide, Trent leaves Melodie to face the media alone.
Now, six years later they come face to face in a battle-of-the-sexes reality show competition but this time the stakes are even higher. Can they find their second chance at happiness, or will the past once again destroy them?
Trent is a singer-songwriter. Music is the only thing that keeps him sane. Ashamed of his disabilities, he does his best to hide them but like any truth, it finds its way out. His fear and shame is what caused him to leave Melodie after their amazing two weeks together. He knew he couldn’t face the media without revealing his secret.
There have been other girls, women, one-night stands, even a few relationships but Melodie is the only woman he’s ever loved. He can’t forget her but is he brave enough to face his past failings and seek a second chance?
Melodie writes young adult fantasy novels. She once won an award for promising new author but that was before the media labeled her a whore and a murderer. It didn’t matter that Kyle had cheated on her and she’d refused his ring. He died and the media blamed her and her relationship with Trent.
Hiding from the world and writing under a pseudonym Melodie finds herself once more being forced into the limelight. Can she salvage her career or will the past once more make her pay for loving the wrong man?
Song contest ends April 24th, 2022. Don’t miss your chance to add your song to Trent’s Play List. You could win a $25 Gift Card, your name and links in Trent’s Melodie, my upcoming book and your song featured in the book.
The guitar in the corner
Use to feel my callused touch
I would sing as I strummed—
Bringing each taunt string to life
I could make that old guitar scream
with a stroke from my callused hands
But the melody is broken
the master lost his touch
now the guitar in the corner only gathers dust.
I have a confession. I’m a nerd. I geek out over the strangest things. I love research and learning new things. With the past couple of years’ Covid restrictions I have done most of my research and learning online. As y’all know, I follow several authors online. I love YouTube especially for learning from other authors, but I recently discovered I can find research information like steamships from late 1800s and early 1900s, what life was like in the Victorian era, and assorted household items look like when they explode or catch fire.
I also enjoy taking classes both in person and online on everything from writing craft to research details and even marketing. Okay, maybe I don’t exactly enjoy marketing but as an indie author, marketing is a necessary part of the game. Last Saturday I attended the Heart of Carolina Spring Conference with Molly Maddox and Lucy Lennox. I followed that program with a webinar on Goodreads by Alessandra Torres of Inkers Con. I feel I have been inundated with information, good, much needed information but maybe more than I can process at the moment.
One thing I learned while raising our sons is that we each absorb information in different ways and regurgitate that information through our own filters. As I review the recordings one more time, I know that I will have to choose one or two things to focus on and do my best to implement those lessons before I can attempt to use any of the other great knowledge. That’s why for me, I don’t mind listening to a lecture more than once, sometimes multiple times. I happily attend classes and programs I’ve attended before or are similar, because review helps renew or remind me of things I might have forgotten or become lax with.
Craftsmen, no matter if they are woodworkers or painters, seamstress or authors, we each continue to learn in order to stay current. When we stop growing and learning, we then begin to die. On that ominous note, I urge each of you and myself to learn something new and find the new nugget in the old.
Of course, I’m a nerd, I love to learn. I geek out over dress fashion changes from the 1800s and inventions of the Victorian era. I get all excited watching glass blowers design a vase or a blacksmith make a knife. I want to know how it’s done.
This week my gal-pals and I will be going to Carteret to listen to mystery author, Tom Kies and while we’re there, I’ll do a little research at the maritime museum. With two books in two different series in different genres and different time periods, this trip is more than just a fun adventure, it’s a necessity. But there will be laughs, good food, fun times and learning all combined. It’s so good to be able to go to in person events again.
I will be learning to Haiku with poet, author and bookstore owner, the Heart of the Pamlico Poet Laureate, Michelle Garner-Flye. Check out http://www.pamlicowriters.org
Many of you have already seen the Goodreads Giveaway, I’ve also set up a couple of ads for March and one for April, now I just have to wait and see what happens. Waiting isn’t easy for me.
I put my writing career on hold for so many years while I wrestled growing boys into independent men. Now, it’s my turn and it’s not as easy as I’d hoped. No one is banging down the doors to get to my books or to demand my autograph. Although I did have a fantastic audience today, I didn’t read my own stories, because they were second graders, and my books aren’t designed for young minds.
Today I joined other illustrious members of our community to go read at our local school for Read Across America. One of my good friends, Ms. Christy, the second-grade teacher, and my neighbor asked if I’d read to her class. She told them I was a famous author. Well, the famous part is stretching it, but everyone is famous in a small town. The children were wonderful and a boon to my flagging ego. They were delighted to learn their teacher was one of the inspirations for my character, Dana the heroine in White Gold. After reading Dr. Suess’ Daisy-Head Maysie and making paper flowers, the kids asked for my autograph and a couple wanted me to come back and read one of my books. I told them I had a short story I’d written for my grandchildren that I could bring. I think that’s what I’ll do.
What a marvelous treat. I was a little afraid, to tell the truth. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to read to young children, even my grandchildren, and I worried I wouldn’t be able to connect. It started out as a favor for a friend, a thing to do to support my community but it became more. Today made me realize how much this community and the people in it inspire me.
As I told her class, Christy along with my sister-in-law Denise and my good friend, Mary, all combined to help me create the character, Dana.
Dana Windley who later becomes mayor of Leeward, is a community leader. She is an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a volunteer for the school and her community. She also does charity work raising money for things like breast cancer and her local firefighters and paramedics squads. Dana would be the one you would see at the school reading to the children, planning events for the community and doing all in her power to support her town, her friends, and her family.
The Leeward Files and The Harrell Family Chronicles are about REAL people, living in a small town just like where I come from. The town of Leeward is struggling to rebuild after several devasting blows. My home has suffered hurricanes, the loss of businesses and our high school, it is a town that was dying but we are doing our best to revive it. Just like the characters in my stories, there are very real people working to see that the town of Aurora, not only survives, but once again thrives. These people, this town, this community of supporters are the inspiration for my stories and what keep me writing.