There were a number of things that influenced and inspired me to write my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past. Here are some of them.
Start with one spooky, derelict mansion…
Add one ancient stone circle…
Sprinkle in a narrow country lane…
Lined with ghostly trees…
Add a generous dollop of old graveyard…
One full-sized headstone…
Spice it up with a village hall…
One lunatic asylum…
One small country church…
And lastly a smidgeon of Aberdeen…
Let all the ingredients simmer then write, write some more, re-write, re-write some more.
When finished it looks like this…
Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.
Weird noises in the night send the imaginations of three young girls soaring. Is it the rain, a dragon, an alien from outer space, or a ghost? As Olivia and her best friends seek the source of the sound, they discover that the truth is not as scary as their imaginations.
Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. To some of her friends, she is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.
For twenty-two years Beverly taught children in grades two through five how to read and write. They taught her patience. Now, she teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Her cats don’t appreciate good music and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.
For a chance to win a PDF or Paperback copy of the book answer the question: What do you think the weird noise is that the girls hear?
Only one woman could hurt ultra-alpha bad boy Jake Braden. Only one woman can heal him. Fiona Steele has arrived…
Fiona Steele has a great career, strong friendships, and a loving family. To an outsider, her life appears happy and fulfilling. But the one thing that’s missing is true love, and the only man Fiona wants is the one she can’t have, sinfully handsome and seductively intense Jake Braden—the man whose heart she broke, which she has regretted ever since.
As an LA stuntman, Jake Braden’s at the top of his game. He’s hired for all the best movies, hooks up with the hottest women, and lives an unencumbered lifestyle where his needs come first—and where he doesn’t have to examine his life too closely. Except when he visits his family in his close-knit hometown of Trusty, Colorado, where he spends his time avoiding Fiona—the only woman who knows who he really is.
When Fiona’s best friend is hired to act in Jake’s movie, Fiona jumps at the chance to try to win him back. There’s no denying the white-hot attraction burning between them. With every encounter, Fiona hopes Jake can’t resist falling back into the love they once shared. But her well-orchestrated rendezvous doesn’t go over well with the brooding heartthrob. Living in the fast lane is perfect for a guy who’s buried his emotions so damn deep he’s not sure he can remember how to feel—and he’s not sure he ever wants to.
Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on social media. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.
In 1869, the Earth experiences the close pass of a new comet. In its wake, thousands of Terra’s inhabitants find themselves strangely changed. Among humanity, many find that any talent they may naturally possess has been elevated to an astounding degree. Likewise, a number of animals become self-aware and intelligent. A young “comet prodigy” from humble beginnings, Ichabod Temperance, has become one of the world’s foremost inventors in this age of prolific genius. Traveling to England to deliver his latest brilliant device to a famous explorer, the young tinker is unexpectedly struck by the fearsome hand of fate. Meanwhile, a lovely young aristocrat, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, survives an experimental accident only to find herself imbued with a power she can neither understand nor control, while dark forces and malevolent creatures pursue her, leaving a gruesome wake of death.
Yet, worse is to come. The naïve young inventor and the lovely intellectual find themselves fighting not only to save their own lives, while concurrently coming to terms with their own budding romance, but to prevent the destruction of all life on Earth in this humorously told and poignant steampunk adventure!
This is the first book in the series, ‘The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance‘. There are six books. Though in a series, each book is a stand-alone adventure.
I’m thrilled to welcome Scottish author of seven brilliant novels, Linda Gillard, to Celtic Connexions. I’m so excited to host you here today. I’ve read all of your novels and loved them. I’m anxiously waiting for number eight.
Shall we get started?
When did you first get bitten by the writing bug?
1999. I was at home recovering from a nervous breakdown. I’d recently given up teaching which I’d found very stressful. I taught in an unruly school in an impoverished area. One day a disturbed pupil punched me during a lesson and I decided I’d had enough.
I was diagnosed with depression and eventually mild bipolar. I recuperated at home doing a lot of reading and quilt-making, then I read a book called Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise deSalvo. One paragraph sent me straight to my PC and I started to write – almost automatically – the opening page of what became my first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY.
I was writing for myself, just an escapist novel that was something like an alternative autobiography, but before long I was hooked on writing – and completely in love with my hero!
I’d been an actress and a journalist before I trained as a teacher and writing put me in touch with words and creativity again. I realised writing was the only thing I wanted to do and it led to a new and successful career as a novelist.
I was 53 when EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY was published, so I always tell people it’s never too late to start writing and you never have to retire!
Are you a plotter or a pantster or a combination of the two?
I used not to plot very much and I’ve never begun a book knowing how it will end. Readers often describe my books as “un-put-downable” and I wonder if that’s because even I don’t know how they’re going to turn out. I write to find out what happens.
I think if you let it, your unconscious mind will write a better book than your conscious mind. Your conscious mind will go for quick fixes, easy answers. Your unconscious will surprise you and the reader.
I’m now working on my eighth novel and I’ve planned the last few books a bit more, but there are always surprises. I can be writing a scene and some twist will suddenly strike me, or I’ll realise something important about a character’s back story that I didn’t realise. I always listen to my characters and write what they tell me to write, even when I think the story should go in a different direction. Your characters always know best.
Ed. note. House of Silence was the first novel written by you that I read. It’s stuck with me and I want to read it again but most of all, it made me look for more books written by you.
You parted ways with your publisher with House of Silence, because they said it would be too difficult to market, if I remember correctly. Any regrets?
No. It was the best thing I ever did, both creatively and financially, although at the time it felt like professional suicide. I hoped I’d get another publisher, but after 2 years my agent hadn’t found one. We just had a lot of nice rejection emails saying editors liked my books but couldn’t see how to market them.
My fans kept asking for a new book and I had two that my agent had been unable to sell, so I decided to publish them myself. This was in 2011 and indie publishing was quite new. I didn’t expect to sell many copies, but HOUSE OF SILENCE became a Kindle bestseller. Amazon selected it as one of their Top Ten in the indie author category. I re-published my out-of-print backlist and 4 new books and I now earn a living from writing non-genre fiction which is quite rare.
But it’s a lot of work being indie. I’d rather be writing than doing admin and marketing, but I’ve really enjoyed working with a designer on my covers. In my opinion two of my traditionally published novels were sabotaged by their covers and I had a title foisted on me that I hated, so it means a lot to have books that have titles and covers I’m proud of.
How much research do you have to do in advance of sitting down to write?
In advance, not that much. I do preliminary research but start writing as soon as I can. I think if you do too much research it can take over. It’s tempting to include fascinating facts even though they don’t actually help tell the story. I keep in mind Elmore Leonard’s advice to writers: “Try to leave out the parts readers skip”!
You need to do just enough research to be able to write the story. As you write, it becomes clear where the gaps are. But you can do more research later, after you’ve finished the book if necessary.
I recall seeing pictures on Facebook you’d taken while on a tour of a stately home for use in an upcoming book (possibly your work-in-progress). How many actual locations – castles, mansions, cottages, etc. make it into your novels as fictional ones?
I usually base my locations on real places and buildings but they’re adapted. I lift bits from several different places and combine them to make a new location. So the decrepit Scottish castle in CAULDSTANE
Of all the books you’ve written to date, does one remain your favourite?
I think my best book is A LIFETIME BURNING but my favourite – the one of which I’m most fond – is HOUSE OF SILENCE. I really enjoyed writing that one, though the plot did rather strain my brain! Both HOS and ALB are family stories and I enjoy writing about extended families.
Of all the places you’ve lived in Scotland, is there one would you like to return to or would you like to stay in your current location?
I would like to return to the Isle of Skye where I lived for six years. I wish I had a holiday home there, but it wouldn’t be very convenient. Skye is a long way. When I lived there hardly anyone came to see me from the south and I didn’t see much of my adult children, so I think I’d just have to go back for holidays. But not in the summer. Skye midges are legendary for their ferociousness!
There are three words that come to mind when I look at these photographs of your home on Skye – beautiful, rugged, remote.
Linda Gillard lives in the Scottish Highlands and has been an actress, journalist and teacher. She is the author of seven novels, including STAR GAZING, short-listed in 2009 for Romantic Novel of the Year and HOUSE OF SILENCE, which became a Kindle bestseller and was selected by Amazon UK as one of their Top Ten “Best of 2011” in the Indie Author category.
Welcome to Celtic Connexions, Sharon. Do make sure you kiss the Blarney Stone here on the table by the front door. At least you don’t have to sit on a ledge and lean back until your head is lower than your bum.
You’re looking very much in the St Patrick’s Day spirit all decked out in green. Can I offer you a drink? I have to say, I LOVE your hat. I have a selection of Irish Whiskey. Have a look on the sideboard and see if there’s something there you fancy.
I have plenty of nibbles to snack on whilst we chat. Crisps with French Onion dip (coloured green, naturally), jelly beans, chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Don’t be shy. Dig in. Who knows, before the end of the night we might even find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Thank you for my Cead Mile Failte (a hundred thousand welcomes) here today, Melanie. I was born in Dublin, the eldest of three children, and grew up in an area called Rathfarnham, which is at the foot of the Dublin mountains. I studied history and politics at college, and then did a postgraduate in journalism, before working for national newspapers. I now live in a small coastal village in Dublin, with my husband and our three children. It’s a place where most people know each other, so apart from my friends from school and college, I have really good friends here.
Back home in Ireland, how do you normally celebrate St Patrick’s Day?
Traditionally, we would have always brought the children to the parade in town (which is what Dublin people call the city centre). Our eldest two are far too old to go with us anymore, so if they want to see it, they would go with friends. But our youngest is still game. The parade runs right through the centre of town, so most people have their favourite places to view. Ours is on Dame Street, on the south side of the river Liffey. Afterwards, we’d go to the Kilkenny Design Centre in Nassau Street, which is a mecca for Irish design, and have a hot drink and a treat.
We have the Americans and in particular the Irish Americans to thank for much of the improvements to our parade down the years. The St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin was incredibly boring when I was a child. I don’t think we understood what it was meant to be about at all. The highlight was always the American groups who came over to participate. They brought colour and excitement and, dare I say it, a professionalism that we lacked.
Now, it’s a festival that runs right over the weekend, and we have wonderful contributors, both Irish and from further afield.
You made the jump from journalist to novelist – is Going Against Type loosely based on your previous career?
I suppose the book is very loosely based on elements of what I knew, when I worked for the papers. I drew on bits of people I knew for some of the characters, and all the jargon is authentic.
I had also written a column for a while, for one of the national newspapers, but it wasn’t a sports column. I never wrote about sport, so Charlotte and her columns needed a lot of research.
Dinner is ready? *looks towards manservant* Come through to the dining room. I have to admit I got a bit carried away with the decorating – sparkly, green Leprechaun hats at the place settings, pots of basil with shamrocks and candles, and green noise makers. What can I say? I wanted it to be special, it being my first St Patrick’s Day party.
I hope you enjoy your meal. I’ve got Potato Leek soup
with soft pretzels followed by your choice of Corned Beef and Cabbage,
Guinness Braised Pork, or Guinness Meat Pie. You can think about it while we have our soup course.
I love potato leek soup. My mum makes her own all the time, and gives me over big pots of it. The whole family love it! And I was raised on corned beef and cabbage. My grandmother made it a lot. She would shred the cabbage up really fine, and stir it in through creamy, mashed potatoes.
We’ll chat while we eat. Going Against Type is your debut novel. Can you tell us a bit about it?
I’d love to. It’s set against the backdrop of Dublin newspapers, and it’s the story of two rival newspaper columnists who fall in love. Because they write their columns under pen names, they have no idea that they’ve each fallen in love with the enemy!
The book opens with Charlotte Regan, who works as a sports reporter in a very male-dominated sports department, getting a chance to write the new sports column Side Swipe. The column is very sharp and her views very controversial – and it’s noticed by The Squire, a gossip columnist on a rival newspaper.
The Squire is written by fashion journalist Derry Cullinane, who initially assumes that Side Swipe is a man! And he takes no prisoners.
Some would say Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Regan has it all. Beautiful, smart, athletic and a great job working as a journalist – in the almost exclusively male sports department. But Charlotte is not quite as sure as she seems. Recently split from her overbearing boyfriend, she escapes for weekends, surfing in the Atlantic, and spends her free nights watching sports, roaring at the TV.
Derry Cullinane is a fashion writer, gossip columnist and sophisticated man-about-town. The go-to guy for any woman seeking expert advice on what fabulous outfit to wear for any given occasion. He’s also tall, dark, good looking – and straight! So what’s the snag? He has a track record of dating glamorous, vain and shallow women.
Charlie gets an opportunity to write a new column under the pen name Side Swipe, but is soon drawn into a war of words and wit with a rival paper’s columnist The Squire – and their verbal fireworks get readers and editors talking. Yet neither Charlie nor Derry knows just whom the opponent is…
When Charlotte and Derry meet at the Races, the attraction is instant. As their relationship develops, so much more proves at stake, than protecting their alter egos. But a blunder puts Charlotte’s job in jeopardy just as Derry’s past makes front page, and Charlotte begins to doubt her feelings.
When Side Swipe and The Squire are finally forced to reveal themselves, will they revert to type – or confound everyone’s expectations?
Oh good grief, Charlotte thought. It’s Panama Hat Man. She found herself blushing as Fiona steered her into the man’s line of vision. A slow, amused smile of recognition spread across his face. Brown eyes locked hard with green. Okay Charlotte, play it cool. With a show of dignity, she looked away.
‘Everyone, this is my old school friend Charlotte Regan. Charlotte, this is Clare, Tina and Rosemary.’
Charlotte smiled and shook the other women’s hands, quickly memorising their names, acutely aware of the man’s attention. ‘And Derry Cullinane,’ Fiona said.
Almost reluctantly, Charlotte met his gaze again, forcing herself to breathe normally. She smiled politely and extended her hand. Derry held it a fraction longer than necessary.
‘Tiny hands too,’ he murmured. Charlotte flushed.
‘How’s your foot?’ he asked, releasing her hand but holding her gaze. ‘Oh, do you already know each other?’ Fiona asked, looking slightly puzzled.
‘No,’ said Charlotte quickly.
‘We met at the Galway Races,’ Derry said at the same time. An image of the peroxide blonde woman popped into Charlotte’s head.
‘Can I leave you for a minute? I must check on things in the kitchen.’ Fiona briefly squeezed Charlotte’s hand and left.
Charlotte glanced quickly about, hoping to engage with the other women, but to her frustration she found that they’d drifted away. Leaving her with this egotistical…
‘So as an experiment, do you think we’ll work?’ Derry said, interrupting her thoughts.
‘Um, will what work?’
He shot her an arrogant smile.
‘Fiona’s matchmaking attempt. Either Cupid will be on target or we’ll end up throwing bread rolls at each other.’
Charlotte gritted her teeth.
‘I’m a crack shot with a bread roll.’
It sounds like a fun book. I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR list.
Can you describe your writing routine? What time of day do you find you’re most productive – that kind of thing.
I’m definitely at my best in the morning, but I’m not one of those people who can get up at five O’clock to write. I wish I were. Once my younger two are in school, I start to write. The trick for me is to know what I want to write, the night before. I’m far more productive when I have a plan.
I think the party is about to start. I hope you got enough to eat. There is dessert but we’ll let this settle first before we have it.
*escorts Sharon back into other room and inserts Cranberries CD*
I hope you like the Cranberries. They’re one of my favourite groups.
While we listen to music, I’ve stashed a pot of gold somewhere in this room. Do you think you can find it?
I love The Cranberries. They’re a brilliant group. Hmmm, a pot of gold? Is it under the stash of sweets that we were eating? Those chocolate-covered gold coins might do. They’re very lucky.
We have Baileys Mousse Pie and Apple Amber for dessert. Which would you prefer? While you search, I’ll get it and bring it in for you.
I’d love the Apple Amber, it sounds delicious.
Returns to room with dessert(s) *changes CD*There’s a bit of a story behind this one.
It involved one of my cousins but I won’t go into all the details here.
It’s been a fun party. I hope it lived up to your expectations.
Before you go, can you tell us where to get your book and how to find out more about you?
This will take you to my book page at Tirgearr Publishing, and has all the buy links, as well as a nice excerpt:tirpub.com/gatype I can be found on Twitter: @Authorsharonb Here’s my Author page with links to my blog, various excerpts and other nuggets of information: Sharon Black Author Page
Thanks so much for stopping by, Sharon.
Thanks a million for allowing me to be your guest today, Melanie.
How do you celebrate St Patrick’s Day? Do you have any family traditions? Tell us about them in the comments.
Eilidh Campbell returns to her Scottish roots from America with one main aim: to discover the identity of her real father. But her mother’s past in Inverclyde is a mystery with family secrets, a book of Robert Burns’ poems with a hidden letter and a photograph link to the Holy Loch at Dunoon when the American Navy were in residence.
Staying with her childhood friend, Kirsty, while searching for answers, Eilidh begins to fall in love with handsome Scot Lewis Grant, but just how free is he? Together they trace the story of Highland Mary and Robert Burns, with its echoes to her mother’s story. From Dunoon, to Ayrshire and culminating in Greenock, Eilidh finds the past is closer than she realises.
I’m thrilled you were able to stop in here at Celtic Connexions on your blog tour, Rosemary. There’s so much I want to know about The Highland Lass among other things.
Thank you so much for inviting me to be your guest today, Melanie. It’s lovely to be here and next best thing to sharing a cup of tea with you in person.
You write in a variety of genres – short stories, articles, novellas, and novels. Do you have one you prefer over the others?
I used to think I preferred writing short stories, until I started getting into longer fiction, and now the short stories are more infrequent. So I probably prefer longer fiction, whether novellas or novels. I do, however, enjoy writing articles every now and then as they employ a completely different, more analytical part of the brain and I find them a good rest from the imaginary world of fiction.
Your latest novel, The Highland Lass, holds a special place in your heart. Most of it is contemporary but there are some historical chapters in Highland Mary’s voice. Is she, or perhaps Robbie Burns, a part of the family secret Eilidh has come to Scotland to discover?
The main thrust of the story is that Eilidh has never known who her real father was and needs to try and find the answer. After her mother’s death in America, she discovers a secret love letter in her mother’s book of Burns’ poems signed by the letter R and a photograph that suggests a link to the American Navy at the Holy Loch. Her mother always maintained that Highland Mary was an ancestress and Eilidh feels drawn to the 18th century story. She also feels an affinity with the handsome Scot, Lewis Grant, whom she meets on the flight home to Scotland, as if they have known each other for much longer.
What inspired you to write The Highland Lass?
My mother first introduced me to Highland Mary’s grave in Greenock cemetery when I was a girl and I’ve been fascinated by her ever since. I also enjoyed Burns’ poetry, especially after winning the Burns certificate for recitation in primary school twice! But Mary Campbell was one small part of Burns’ life, with only certain ‘facts’ written over the years. My imagination was fired but I knew I couldn’t sustain a whole novel in the past as I didn’t want it to be about Burns himself. Since Eilidh is a Campbell, she becomes even more fascinated by the story of Robert Burns’ Highland Lass and their love story finds echoes in her mother’s story.
I also wanted to write about my own area of Inverclyde in homage to its beautiful scenery and I was interested in the period when the American Navy was based in the Holy Loch during the 1960s and 70s (and beyond) as many of the young girls on this side of the river went to the dances there and in Greenock – Eilidh’s mother being one of them.
How much research did it require?
The modern part didn’t require so much, as it’s set in all the areas I personally know, though I did need to visit the relevant parts of Ayrshire, just as Eilidh and Lewis do. I’ve been researching the historical details on and off for years and had an article about Burns and Highland Mary published in The Highlander magazine in the USA some years ago. Rather than speak to any descendants of Highland Mary, I preferred to use the letters, poems and non-fiction books to find out about her short time with Burns and how she affected him. This was important to me as the historical parts are completely fictionalised, albeit from the known ‘facts’ and they allowed me to imagine Mary’s voice.
What’s your next project?
I’m currently writing the third in my Aphrodite and Adonis series of contemporary novellas, with a touch of mythological fantasy set on Cyprus, for Tirgearr Publishing. At the same time, I have several other novels/novellas (historical and contemporary) awaiting some attention. I’m also writing a Victorian crime novel set around my own area – if I ever get on with the rest of it. Then there are the short stories and articles that are started but not yet finished!
A prize-winning writer, Rosemary Gemmell’s short stories, articles, and poems have been published in UK magazines, in the US, and online. She is now a historical and contemporary novelist and The Highland Lass is the first novel from Crooked Cat Publishing under her full name. She has also published historical novels and contemporary novellas with a touch of mythological fantasy from Tirgearr Publishing as Romy and tween books as Ros, as she likes to tackle a variety of writing genres and styles.
Rosemary has a BA (hons) in European literature and history and a post-graduate MA in Humanities from the Open University. She is a member of the Society of Authors, the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Scottish Association of Writers. She enjoys sharing writing information, and loves to dance!
Thank you for stopping by and sharing this exciting new book with us. My father may have been born in Aberdeenshire, but he was raised in Inverclyde at The Orphan Homes of Scotland so this part of your beautiful country is very special to me, too.
Brady is a sensitive young boy who takes his blankie wherever he goes. After traveling with his parents to visit his new cousin, Brady accidently leaves his blanket behind. Can Brady learn to get by without his blankie?
Welcome to Celtic Connexions, Stephanie. I’m always happy to host a fellow 4RV author here. I’m sure everyone wants to know the story behind the book and more…
What inspired you to write the story?
One of my husband’s relatives mentioned their grandchild had a blankie and was having a hard time without it. I drew on my own childhood memories of having a blankie. I think letting go of the blankie is the first step in growing up.
How long did it take?
It took about a week to write the story. I have to thank 4RV Publishing for publishing Brady’s Lost Blanket. It took about 2 weeks back and forth with the editing.
Did you pick the illustrator?
No, I did not. 4RV Publishing selected the illustrator. I think Bridget McKenna did a great job with the illustrations. They have a very whimsical feel and compliment the story well.
What makes this book special?
Brady’s Lost Blanket has a message for all young children who become attached to “something” (be it a blanket or something else) because they want to feel secure. It’s okay to let go of our “security” nets and move forward. It maybe a little scary at first, but once you go without it, you learn you can live without it.
How long have you been writing children’s books?
About 5 years now. My first children’s book, “The Giving Meadow” was published with 4RV Publishing in 2010. It has a great message about sharing and caring for young children as well as telling about Caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly. It’s perfect for Easter as it helps young children understand Jesus’ story.
Brady’s Lost Blanket is a delightful children’s story about growing up and moving on from the security of a ‘blankie’ to not needing it anymore.
It’s a well-written book and thoughtfully told story.
Inspiration comes in small packages
By: Stephanie Burkhart
One of my husband’s relatives told me a story about her grandchild who was attached to his blankie. He left it behind when he was visiting relatives and was having a hard time without it. That brought back memories of the time when I was a young girl and had a blankie. My blankie was soft blue with silk blue trim. I loved to rub it against my face. It was very soothing. My blankie was my security net. It was always there for me. I could count on it to relax my ruffled feelings or frustration – until it mysteriously disappeared. One day, when I was five, my blankie turned up missing. I had no idea what happened to it. I felt “out of sorts,” “uncomfortable,” and “anxious.” (My mother hid it on me. She decided it was time for me to learn how to get along without it.)
Those first couple of days without blankie was rough, but I soon learned other age appropriate coping stragedies. I played with Barbie and her Beach van. I picked up a book. I began coloring. I loved playing with Matchbox cars. Soon my imagination grew and I didn’t need blankie anymore.
Giving up blankie was my first step to growing up.
Brady’s Lost Blanket is about taking that first step. It’s a great message for children. Growing up isn’t easy. There are all kinds of challenges, but learning how to get along without a blankie is usually the first one a child faces. In the story, Brady has a lot of support from his parents who offer him other ways to deal with the anxiety of losing his blanket. I hope that when other children read the story they realize that while it may be upsetting at first, letting go of blankie and embracing new things can be fun and they’ll be all right.
Stephanie Burkhart was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, but now calls California her home. She currently works for LAPD as a 911 Dispatcher. Stephanie has been writing since she was five, when she crafted homemade comic books on the kitchen table. Her previous books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow, and First Flag of New Hampshire. Stephanie enjoys coffee, adores chocolate and is currently the Den Leader for her son’s Cub Scout Den.
BRADY’S LOST BLANKET is available in print from 4RV Publishing.
With few roots in England and having just lost her job, Amy Carter decides to give up on home and start a new life in France, spending her redundancy package turning an overgrown Provençal farmhouse, Bellefontaine, into a successful hotel.
Though she has big plans for her new home, none of them involves falling in love – least of all with Fabien Coste, the handsome but arrogant owner of a nearby château. As romance blossoms, eerie and strange happenings in Bellefontaine hint at a dark mystery of the Provençal countryside which dates back many centuries and holds an entanglement between the ladies of Bellefontaine and the ducs de Coste at its centre. As Amy works to unravel the mystery, she begins to wonder if it may not just be her heart at risk, but her life too.
I loved this book! I’m a sucker for anything set in France so this one fit the bill right away. Couple that with the strange happenings at Amy’s farmhouse, Bellefontaine, and I HAD to read it.
Marie’s descriptive narrative drew me in right away and kept me turning the pages. I could visualize the places easily and her characters were strong and believable.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves books set in France with mystery and romance combined.
Marie Laval Bio
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie studied History and Law at university there before moving to Lancashire in England where she worked in a variety of jobs, from PA in a busy university department to teacher of French in schools and colleges. Writing, however, was always her passion, and she spends what little free time she has dreaming and making up stories. Her historical romances ANGEL HEART and THE LION’S EMBRACE are published by MuseItUp Publishing. A SPELL IN PROVENCE is her first contemporary romance. It is published by Áccent Press.