Monday, April 28, 2008

*Wild At Heart* by Gina Hartoog Released

Wild at Heart by Gina Hartoog is now available at By Grace. Order your copy today!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blurb and Excerpt: *Wild at Heart* by Gina Hartoog

Wild at Heart by Gina Hartoog

New York photojournalist Katelyn Hillfox is determined to stay focused on her original assignment to South Africa. But after meeting handsome game ranger, Jacques Kruger, Katelyn knows her heart has a different plan. Her sleuthing instincts kick in when she hears about a spate of burglaries on the reserve. Katelyn starts snooping around and learns that Renprox, an eccentric animal rights organization, may be involved. Her own reputation is at stake when someone paints her as a heartless journalist out for a good story. Suddenly Jacques wants nothing to do with her. Can Katelyn find the truth before she loses him for good?

Camp was deserted. It was after ten o’clock and the night drive guests were back from their outing. Katelyn walked along the path, now familiar with its twists and turns, and stopped to listen to the sounds of the night again. She was used to the owls and the pulsating squeak of the bats high in the trees. The branches above her head rustled. Katelyn pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders and walked on.
The cottage was just as she left it but the interior was much darker. The moon had moved over since her last visit and its light did not illuminate the room as it had before. She walked over to the filing cabinets to begin her search. Painstakingly, she looked though each drawer using her sense of touch as a guide. The manila envelopes Janet used were rough to the touch. Each time she felt a different texture, she pulled it into the dim light where a crack of moonlight filtered into the cottage. When the last file was back in place, Katelyn sighed in frustration. Her fruitless search had been a waste of time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Author Essay: Gina Hartoog

It was during one of our annual trips to the Kruger National Park that I got the plot idea for Wild at Heart. I wanted to capture some of South Africa’s incredible wildlife and bushveld areas in a story that could be enjoyed by readers from all over the world. Using a journalist from another country meant that I would need to portray that magic through new eyes. It was a challenge to ‘see’ the places and experiences I’ve known since childhood as though they were completely new.

Just after I started work on the novel, one of my magazine editors went on a business trip to London and the airline lost her luggage. It’s a nightmare we’ve all heard about but rarely experience and I decided to use it in my story for an interesting twist.

Quiz Day!

So, here is another fun quiz!

Angie's heart is PINK!

Monday, April 21, 2008

By Grace Publishing Author Bio *Gina Hartoog*

Author Bio *Gina Hartoog*
Gina Hartoog was born in South Africa. She was introduced to books at a young age and was soon captivated by the magic between the pages. After high school, Gina studied photography and journalism. She started her writing career as a journalist where she worked in-house as a sub-editor, features writer and photographer.

After her second daughter was born in 2002, Gina started working freelance from home. This proved a wise decision and she was able to dedicate more time to her fiction writing. Gina regularly contributes to consumer and trade magazines. Her regular columns include topics in the gardening, child care and DIY industries. She has also completed two re-writes of classic Mark Twain stories for a South African publisher. By Grace Publishing will publish her first novel Wild at Heart in April
2008. Gina lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with her husband, Bram and two daughters Shona (9) and Chiara 5. She has just had her third child, a son, in March 2008.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Available! *His and Hers Dalmatians* by Grace Tyler

*His and Hers Dalmatians* by Grace Tyler

Callie and Hayden James have nothing in common, other than their last names and a pair of Dalmatians. Their relationship was just as volatile after their divorce, so they split up the dogs to maintain the peace. After two years apart, attending the wedding of mutual friends forces Callie and Hayden to see each other again. Can this event lead to a truce and sharing custody of the dogs?

Buy it soon HERE!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blurb and Excerpt *His and Hers Dalmatians* by Grace Tyler

His and Hers Dalmatians by Grace Tyler
Callie and Hayden James have nothing in common, other than their last names and a pair of Dalmatians. Their relationship was just as volatile after their divorce, so they split up the dogs to maintain the peace. After two years apart, attending the wedding of mutual friends forces Callie and Hayden to see each other again. Can this event lead to a truce and sharing custody of the dogs?

“Don’t worry about calling your shots,” Hayden said, stepping back.

“All right.” Callie bent over the pool table, holding her cue awkwardly under her left arm. “Help me?”

He groaned mentally. Standing behind her to guide her shot fit in perfectly with his mid-dinner plot of getting her to stay the night. It wasn’t so perfect for his post-dinner resolution of chivalry and self preservation.

He took a step closer, daring no more. Her citrus-clean fragrance tempted him to take another step forward. “Grip the end of the stick lightly.”

“All right.” She loosened her hold on the cue and then propped the stick across the knuckles of her right hand.

“Like this.” He lifted the cue off her table hand. “The stick needs to glide lightly across your skin. This hand is just to steady the stick while you push and aim with your left hand.” He repositioned her cue so that it rested between her right index finger and thumb. “Use your other fingers for stabilization.”

“Now I remember.” She flashed him a brief smile before taking the shot. The cue ball bounced harmlessly off the bumpers. “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Come on. Try again.”

Callie walked along the two free sides of the table. The other two sides were hemmed in by the corner of the room. “I’ve got a shot,” she said, taking aim from a new location. “I’m going for the thirteen. Maybe it’ll get into the pocket if I hit it just off center.”

“Remember your table hand is just a guide. The power comes from your shooting arm, so judge how hard you need to hit the ball.”

“Watch thirteen,” she said, sparing a look at him before returning her focus to the table, her short sable hair fanning against her cheek. She pushed the stick forward in practice a couple of times, and then she made her shot. Her aim was true, but she’d hit the cue ball too hard, and the thirteen ball bounced off the rim of the pocket.

“Great shot!” He meant it. She’d never played well when they were dating, but she never let her discouragement show. “You want to go again?”

“No, it’s your turn. I’ll watch and try to pick up some pointers.”

Hayden took his shot, and the cue ball smacked against the three-ball, which tumbled into the right center pocket.

“Go again,” Callie said. “No need to give me extra turns.”

“Practice is the only way to get better,” he protested, but he had lined up his next shot the moment she urged him to take another turn. “Four-ball.” He took one of the short sticks down from the rack and went to the far side of the table next to the wall. “I should have gotten a smaller table,” he lamented. “It would have been easier to play in here.”

“But it wouldn’t have been what you wanted,” she responded.

She seemed to understand him, maybe for the first time. “Right. This was what I wanted.”

Hayden’s shot was true, and number four went directly to the pocket next to Callie on the outside of the table. But it didn’t sink all the way, didn’t rumble down the ball track to the retrieval area. “What’s up with that pocket?” he asked.

She plucked the ball out of the hole. “There’s something stuck in here.” Her hand disappeared into the table, and she started laughing. “You missing something?”

Before he saw what she had found, he knew what it had to be. The unmistakable ring of keys sounded as she jiggled them in his direction. “Who keeps their keys in the pool table?”

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday: Author Essay

Grace Tyler
I love reunion stories, because they demonstrate the difficulties of making a relationship work over the long haul. The words, “And they lived happily ever after,” don’t really demonstrate what happens after a couple walks down the aisle, as anyone in a long term relationship can verify.

From here, I borrowed an idea from the movie “The Parent Trap,” but instead of splitting up twins, I’ve split up the couple’s Dalmatians. The movie focuses mostly on the children’s reunion, but I’ve focused on the divorced couple’s reunion, which is forced on them by the need to attend the wedding of mutual friends.

Questions I wanted to explore were why do couples break up when they really love each other? How can I make my hero and heroine have significant enough differences to necessitate a divorce and yet have enough commonalities and a strong enough love to bring them back together in the end?

(c) 2004 M. Deer

Why Dalmatians, as opposed to any other breed of dogs? First and foremost, they are beautiful dogs with elegant markings and regal bearing. And they do not make good pets for many people, because they require a lot of exercise and interaction. Hayden discovers this after he begins the single life. Our hero is a high powered business man and travels a lot. Consequently, he has to hire a live in caretaker for his dog. Hey, he’s got the bucks.

Dals are beloved by the aficionados of the breed, and have many fun characteristics. They are highly intelligent, athletic, and tend to be mischievious. They also display what is known as a “grin.” In the pictures I saw of it, it looks like the dog is growling the way the teeth are displayed. But Dals actually smile when they are happy or excited, and the way to tell the difference when you are inexperienced with the breed or the individual dog is to watch his tail. If his tail is wagging and his teeth are bared, he’s smiling at you.

A Dalmatian smile
(C) 2000 Judith Barneveld

Pictures courtesy of

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quiz Day!

If one train leave New York at 2 pm going 97 mph, and another train leaves Los Angeles at 6 am going 82 mph....
Now, now, don't get nervous, it's not that kind of quiz. This is a fun quiz, it is about dogs. Take the quiz here and see what kind of dog YOU should have!

Angie took the quiz and should have a beagle. Cool, I like Snoopy!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Athor Bio: Grace Tyler

Grace Tyler
A native of central Utah, Grace idolized her grade school teachers who fostered her love of reading. Writing stories was just as fun as reading, and during high school she penned two full length romances to take her mind off her health problems and difficulty fitting in when moving from school to school. Now after college, fifteen years of marriage, and three children, she is living her dream of seeing one of her romances in print. Her greatest hero is her husband, whose service and hard work are the ultimate representation of love.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

University Day Voice: What is it, and how do you avoid polishing it right out of your novel?

Cindy K. Green
Voice is the way you sound on paper. My personal voice comes out best when I am writing 1st person POV heroines. My sarcastic wittiness just exudes from me under those circumstances. But when you are writing, the voice of your characters must be taken into consideration. How would that jaded government agent hero sound compared to a graduate student/bookshop clerk heroine? Your reader should be able to “hear” the difference in your writing. Go with the voice that is coming out on the page. Don’t be afraid to follow where it takes you.

Judy Jarvie
Voice is your uniqueness. Your own story, told in your own way.

Read aloud for flow and concentrate on making improvements, clearer meaning etc rather than altering everything or becoming editor zealot.

Susan Atwood
Your writer’s voice is the combination of vocabulary, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. that makes your writing sound like you. Reading aloud is a sure way to keep from polishing your voice out of your novel. If you make changes and the result sounds like an instruction manual hit the undo typing key! Reading aloud also helps to keep the rhythm of your prose in place. If you notice that the natural ebb and flow of words stalls or stops all together, back up and try again.

Denise Patrick
Voice is your unique way of putting words together on a page. I look at it this way: If five different authors were given a paragraph to edit to their own style, you'd get five different paragraphs that all say the same thing differently. Unfortunately, when you ask someone else to critique something you've written, if you incorporate all of their suggestions, sometimes what you end up with no longer sounds like you wrote it? If this happens to you, you've edited out your voice. That little bit of you that you infuse your writing with has been deleted and you should do everything in your power to get it back - otherwise you've lost the spark that might have attracted an editor.

Josh Lockwood
I’ve been told I have a ‘good voice for historicals’ and have no idea what that means. I write what sounds natural to me - trying to get inside the heads of my characters, trying to understand their actions and reactions, their emotions – and if it doesn’t sound realistic I take it out and rethink the scene. I studiously avoid anything that sounds contrived. I want my readers to have that ‘Been there, Done that’ feeling and the only way to get it is to write something I think they can identify with.

Judy Huston
Your writing voice is like your DNA: it’s unique to you, but not always easy to identify at first. It may take you a few books to find your own voice and feel comfortable with it. Meanwhile, no matter how much you admire another writer, don’t try to imitate them slavishly. You can learn a lot from them, but copying them completely will muffle your own voice.
You may also find that your writing voice is not what you expected, but don’t be afraid of it. Avoid editing your work so much that the voice can’t be heard clearly. When you’re presenting a point of view, for example, don’t feel that every sentence has to have a subject or a verb. Incomplete sentence, used sparingly can provide a great way to convey thoughts and emotions quickly, if that is the way your voice wants to present them.

Angie Martin
Your voice is how you tell a story. Your way of expressing emotions, describing scenes and telling your story. Everyone has a unique voice, you just have to be careful not to edit it out by too many rewrites of a scence, it's better to walk away from it for a few days before rewriting it.

E-mag Day: Short Story *Rearview* by Jessica Raymond

by Jessica Raymond

Sophie checked the clock on her dashboard and pulled out on to the main road. It was two o’clock. Her appointment wasn’t until half past and the journey only took fifteen minutes, so she had plenty of time.
She circled a roundabout and glanced at her rearview mirror. A sleek sports car merged into the flow of traffic behind her; its shiny grillwork and clean lines stood out from the other vehicles. When Sophie slowed to a stop at the traffic lights she checked her mirror again, just as she had been taught when she’d been a learner driver. The sports car was right behind her.
Her fingernails drummed the top of the steering wheel as she watched two women use the pedestrian crossing in front, but her gaze was quickly drawn back to the rearview mirror.
Sophie took a closer look at the male driver of the sports car, and at his shoulders, which were clad in a royal-blue shirt. The man moved his hand on the steering wheel, and Sophie noted that his sleeves were rolled up, exposing strong tanned arms. Her heart began to thud rather noticeably and a wave-like tingle swept down her neck and over her shoulders as she drank in the sight of him.
The warning beep of the pedestrian crossing died into silence and the amber light began to flash, notifying the cars that they could prepare to move. Sophie returned her concentration to the road and, after the green light had glowed into life, she drove on.
Another glance at the clock told her that five more minutes had passed. Her anticipation grew as she neared her destination; her hands felt a little shaky and her knees tingled. The warm, bouncy feeling in her stomach intensified when she took another furtive look in her mirror to see the man in the sports car still following her.
Their eyes met, and her breath caught slightly in her throat. He smiled at her. She returned the gesture automatically then looked back at the road, knowing she should pay more attention to her driving.
An approaching sign informed Sophie that her turn-off was mere seconds away. She switched on the indicator and slowed down. Her eyes travelled briefly to the rearview mirror again—only to comply with basic mirror–signal–manoeuvre rules, she told herself—and Sophie saw the indicator light on the sports car begin to flash. Another frisson of excitement raced over her skin. Forcing herself to concentrate on the task at hand, she gripped the steering wheel and turned into the side road.
Almost there. It was now a quarter past two—just fifteen minutes to go until her appointment.
She didn’t need to look in her mirror to know that the sports car was still behind her, because every now and then a shiny wink of light would reflect off its pristine bodywork and into her vision. Knowing it was still there made Sophie feel nervous in an unusually exhilarating way. She caught his eye again; this time he raised his hand from the steering wheel and waved at her with that lazy smile still on his face. Sophie’s heart skipped a beat. There was no denying it—he was incredibly handsome.
A sign for the entrance suddenly loomed into view on her left. Her heart practically raced in her chest and there was a funny, fuzzy sort of sensation in her stomach.
Down went the indicator branch as Sophie reached her turn-off. The rearview mirror told her that sports-car man had signalled left as well.
She scanned the directions on the road sign. “Bear right and look for the large red M,” she read out loud, thinking she could really do with a cheeseburger and fries. A minute later, Sophie pulled into a space in the leafy car park. An engine grumbled behind her and she watched the sports car park two spaces away.
She locked eyes with the handsome driver. He smiled at her. Sophie took a cleansing, calming breath. Was it even possible for nerves to feel this good?
She opened the door and stepped out.
“Hi,” the man said, shutting his door at the same time as her.
“Hi,” she replied in a shaky voice.
“I wasn’t sure if you’d noticed me following you.”
“I did.” Sophie smiled and watched him walk around his car towards her. “It was a nice surprise. I wasn’t sure you would make it.”
He kissed her on the cheek. “I got one of the other guys to take my two o’clock test drive. There’s no way I was going to miss this. The boss even let me take the new convertible and he hasn’t allowed it off the forecourt before today.”
His hand closed over hers. Sophie could feel the comforting coolness of his wedding ring against her palm. Her heart grew several sizes in her chest. “I love you, Tom. You know that, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, Soph.” He kissed the top of her head. “And you know I love you too.”
She nodded.
Hand-in-hand, they walked over a small lawn area to the entrance of the maternity unit. Sophie took the appointment card from her pocket and read once more the printed words she already knew off by heart:
Sophie Finnigan — 12-week ultrasound — 2.30pm
She slipped the card back into her pocket while avoiding a patch of daisies on the lawn.
Since the moment she’d found out about the tiny life growing inside her, she had come to look at the world in a different way.
Daisies had changed. They were no longer insignificant wildflowers, but possibly one of the most beautiful yet simple pieces of nature Sophie had ever seen.
Driving anywhere, no matter how near or far, was different. Every turn, brake, and acceleration was a potential risk.
Cheeseburgers and fries were different. They were no longer banned from her vegetarian menu, but had become the most delicious meal she’d ever eaten.
But most of all, her husband was different. She had fallen in love with him all over again. Rather than being the Tom she had known since high school and married two years ago, he had become the father of her unborn child. A man she now looked at through new eyes, seeing all that was good and kind about him—all the things she’d somehow forgotten to notice any more because she’d been so used to them.
It was as though impending motherhood had given her new eyes with which to look out on the world. New senses to feel it, hear it, touch it, and taste it. Her life, through being put on a path of phenomenal change, had been renewed.
And she had never felt happier.

Writing Prompt Day - Scene set on or near a lake

Cindy K. Green
The scene at the lake was gorgeous and serene, everything I was not feeling. No, it would be better to describe my frame of mind as that of someone about to be thrown into one of those car smashing devices. Charlie was about to break my heart. Well, I guess out here there will be no one except the geese flying in and out of the water to see me make a scene. Will I make a scene?
“Evie, look, I know you…you…” He stopped to clear his throat, his dark beautiful eyes darting from my view.
See, even he can’t bring himself to say it. Hey Evie, I’m sorry. We had a great couple months together but I’m moving on. I met someone new—someone prettier, smarter, and more my type. But thanks for all the fun.
As he opened his mouth, my heart sunk down to my stomach…no I think it fell all the way to my toes. Somehow his hands had found their way around my shoulders without me noticing. I must have been too distracted with the incoming destruction just on the tip of his tongue.
“Evie, I think I’m in love with you.”
Help! I’ve had an aneurism because he can’t possibly have said what I think he said.
Neve zipped up her wetsuit. She’d conquer this if it killed her – and it just might if thanks to Aunty Anne’s surprise ‘gift’.

Judy Jarvie
The windsurfing crash course would never be her holiday pursuit of choice.

“You ready?” Neve shuddered as windsurf coach Craig fixed her with his dark gaze.
“This time, let’s do it like you want to be here,” he said.

Susan Atwood
Drina’s protests apparently fell on deaf ears. There was no way she was going in that cold, slimy, icky, disease-laden lake. Hadn’t she made that perfectly clear? She dragged her feet as Hal pulled her across the grass and dug in her heels as they reached the soft dirt at the water’s edge.
“If you dislocate my shoulder I’ll only be able to swim in circles and I’ll never make it back to shore and then I’ll drown and no parents will sign their kids up for your swimming classes and then the—” She was cut off by a bruising kiss and Hal’s voice, as rough as his two-day beard. “I won’t let you drown.”
I’ll never forget swimming in our pond as a child. Our above ground pool was as dark and disgusting as they came, so the pond was the better option.

Catherine Berlin
My favorite day was the one where my older brother-- the brother who picked on me constantly-- came shooting out of the pond, screaming his head off.

A fish apparently thought the dark spots on his chest were bait.

Denise Patrick
She was going to be sick. Carrie knew she shouldn’t have allowed Jeff to talk her into the rowboat. The lake had looked so calm under the clear blue sky - just like a picture. That was a half hour ago. Now that they were closer to the center than the shore, gray clouds had arrived on the scene and the lake was no longer the placid mirrored surface it had been when Jeff had convinced her to accompany him.

Jeff didn’t seem to notice her distress. He was too busy snapping pictures of the wildlife around them with his binoculars. If she hadn’t been trying to impress him, none of this would have happened. She would have told him that she didn’t like small boats or being on the water. Most importantly, however, she would have confessed to not knowing how to swim.

Josh Lockwood
It was quiet. Too quiet. And the moonlight glinting off the still water of the lake didn’t bring him the peace he’d expected. Instead, his mind flicked back to that little damned rice paddy south of Vinh Moc. The one where he’d taken his hit.

It had been quiet that night, too. Until Charlie opened up with the 50 caliber from the undergrowth on the far side of the clearing.

Judy Huston
Mary let her gaze drift across the lake. Sunlight sparkled on its surface and a few swans cruised lazily near the shore, a safe distance from the sailing boats that were already skimming across the water in the distance, taking advantage of the early morning breeze.

The binoculars were powerful. She caught the Classy Lady squarely in her sights and zoomed in. There was Brad on the deck, his face turned directly towards her as if he could see her, white teeth flashing in his tanned face as he smiled with the pure joy of being alive. Mouth tightening, fingers gripping the binoculars so hard they ached, Mary forced the focus away. She needed to see who else was on that yacht.

Angie Martin
This was his favourite time of the day. The sun would soon begin its slow decent, and the water was calm, the boat barely making tiny ripples on the surface. Just he and his fishing rod in the quiet late afternoon.

Blurb and excerpt of *Adopting Alyssa* by Denise Patrick

When a tragic accident on the interstate leaves an orphaned 4-year-old in her charge, social worker Helen Carstairs is certain she's found the perfect couple to adopt her. Jason and Kelly Moore are a young couple in her congregation with a strong, steady faith.

The only thing that would make life more perfect for Kelly would be a baby of her own, not an enchanting four-year-old with adorable green eyes and the brightest smile this side of heaven. God seems to have other ideas and soon Kelly finds herself wondering how she got along without the little bundle of energy.

So, what are the odds that the bearer of so much joy would also be the catalyst that uncovers a secret Kelly thought long buried in her past? A secret which could undermine her faith and destroy her marriage, all in one fell swoop. But, as her world threatens to crumble around her, Kelly discovers the miracle of second chances and realizes God doesn't play the odds.


Jason was waiting for her when she stepped off the elevator. She wondered if he thought she might chicken out if he wasn’t there to meet her. She wouldn’t have. She wanted to give this a try; to meet Alyssa and see if there was something there. She already felt sorry for her, but pity wouldn’t do. She had to feel something more for her than that.
Helen was coming down the hall as they headed toward Alyssa’s room, her expression grave.
“Are you going to go see Alyssa?” she asked, stopping them.
“Kelly has agreed to meet her,” Jason answered.
Helen was silent for a moment, her gaze thoughtful.
“Is something wrong?” Jason asked.
Helen looked around the empty hallway. Gesturing to a row of chairs, she said, “Let’s sit for a moment.”
Jason pulled three chairs into a small circle and they sat. Kelly took in his worried expression and Helen’s serious one and braced herself for something bad.
Helen took a deep breath. “I had to tell Alyssa about her parents today. Her doctor said she’s been asking for them, so my supervisor and I decided she should be told. A grief counselor who works with children has been with her for most of the afternoon.” She looked from one to the other for another long moment. “I don’t want to put you on the spot, but in telling Alyssa about her parents, I felt it necessary to also tell her it was my job to find new parents for her.”
There was a tense, silent moment then Helen continued to Jason. “She asked about you.”
Jason exhaled. “I see.”
Kelly could feel his tension. What would you have me do, Lord? Her short prayer from the car floated through her head.
“Would you prefer we not go to see her?” Jason asked.
Helen’s shoulders slumped. “I honestly don’t know. I don’t want her cut off from anyone, but I also don’t want to get her hopes up. If you continue to visit her, she might bond with you.” She looked at Kelly. “If you decide you don’t want her—” her voice trailed off, but Kelly understood the end of the sentence.
It was suddenly clear to Kelly. She was the one with all the reservations. Both Helen and Jason were decided, but she had to make a decision as well. Could she go in and see this little girl, then walk away as if nothing had happened? Could she forgive herself if she broke a little girl’s heart? She’d also be letting Jason down. Was this God’s way of telling her she had to make a decision now, even before meeting Alyssa?
She reached out and took Jason’s hand. “I would be willing—but, suppose we don’t hit it off?”
Both Helen and Jason smiled at her, and Kelly felt like a child who'd gotten the right answer to a question from the teacher. The feeling irritated her, but she didn't know why.
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about,” Helen replied. “But why don’t you go and see her for yourself?”
A few moments later, the three of them entered Alyssa’s room. Her little body looked small and lost in the hospital bed, and Kelly found herself drawn to the child instantly. With her head turned to one side, Alyssa looked sad and heartbroken. Helen went to her bedside.
“Alyssa. Look who’s come to visit.”
Kelly was not prepared for the effect Alyssa’s gaze had upon her. Twin emerald orbs nearly identical to her own stared up at her dispassionately. The sorrow and uncertainty in that young expression tore at her heart. How could someone have abused such a helpless child?
Jason moved to Alyssa’s side. “How are you feeling tonight?”
“My tummy hurts,” was the small response, although Kelly noted the light that entered Alyssa’s eyes at the sight of Jason. “Miss Helen says I have to have a new Mommy and Daddy, ‘cause mine went to heaven.”
Jason nodded. “Helen told me that, too. I’m very sorry to hear it. Did you eat any dinner?”
The little head nodded. “But I didn’t want very much. Miss Ann said I didn’t have to eat it all.”
Jason looked up at Helen.
“The grief counselor,” she mouthed.
“So, what did you eat?”
“Ice cream.”
“That’s all?” Jason’s teasing voice drew a wan smile from her. “You’ll never get big and strong if you only eat ice cream.”
Kelly was beginning to feel like a third wheel as the two of them conversed. But then those eyes turned back to her. She could see the natural curiosity behind the gaze.
“Who’s she?” Alyssa asked.
Jason slipped an arm around Kelly's waist, drawing her closer. The touch gave her comfort and encouragement. “This is my wife, Kelly.”
There was no hint of surprise or confusion. Hope dawned in the little girl’s eyes. “Are you my new Mommy and Daddy?”

Buy it here

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spotlight By Grace Backlist *Adopting Alyssa* by Denise Patrick

Adopting Alyssa by Denise Patrick

2007 CAPA Winner and 2008 EPPIE Finalist

Reading is as natural as breathing to Denise Patrick. So, it wasn't hard to move from reading to writing once bitten by the "I can create my own stories" bug. Unfortunately, it took many years before she actually sat down to write. Instead she trod the normal path of college, marriage, family, career.

Although her first love is historical romances, when a friend asked her to write that first Inspirational, she quickly realized that it didn't have to be the "preachy" book she usually associated with Inspirationals. Instead, she tries to portray people of faith going about their daily lives, but with 'bumps in the road' that test their faith.

Denise lives in Salt Lake City with her husband of 24 years, and two math and science wizards who did not inherit their talents from her. She works full time, leads the Youth at her church, sits on too many church committees and task forces, is the Newsletter editor for her RWA chapter, and loves to craft, sew, and machine embroider.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Now that the first/rough draft of your novel is written, what do you do next?

Cindy K. Green
I let the manuscript sit for a bit, usually sending it out to my critique partner while I work on something else. When I get it back, I will work on her ideas/corrections. Then I sit and read the whole of it, in one sitting. At this point, I am making sure the flow of words is correct, punctuation is right, plot holes are taken care of, characters are in character. I also might add more layering – more characterization, more intricate plot, etc, etc. After going over it many, many, many times, I send it back to the cp before I submit.

Judy Jarvie
Let it rest. Take a break – read some novels (not just romance), indulge your own reading habits, the more diverse the better. Create some space that lets you go back to the novel afresh with a more critical eye for that first polish and edit round. Then send it out to your critique partner – it’s amazing how improvements/omissions occur once you’ve sent it somewhere.

Susan Atwood
Writing THE END on your first draft is only the beginning, as we all know! I think it is important to let your project “percolate” for a few days or a week before you do anything. That time away gives you a better perspective. Once you’ve let it sit, then it’s time to polish. On the first read I try to look for words and phrases I know I overuse. For me, one problem is the word “that.” I also try to change any commonplace verbs to those with more power. Stronger verbs carry stronger emotions, and that is what romance is all about!

JoAnn Carter
I like to let my first draft percolate for awhile so when I look at it again, I can see it fresh. If I read it too soon, I find I read right through my mistakes.

The most important tip I can give is one I’ve learned the hard way. It’s imperative to read your book cover to cover in one sitting when you are done. Why? Because often motions or little saying can be repeated several times in your manuscript without you even realizing it.

Catherine Berlin
The best thing you can do with any first draft, is throw it in a drawer. Not forever. Just for a week or two. Enough time for you to forget a lot of it.

After two weeks, take it out, and have a pencil. Read it. Every page you have the urge to correct or add to, do it! Then put that particular page aside.

When you’re done, take those pages and use them to edit the file on your computer.

Rinse and repeat.

Denise Patrick
The first thing I do is print it out and set aside for at least two weeks (sometimes longer). Once the two weeks are up, I sit down with the hard copy and read it completely through from the view of a reader and look for the following: plotholes, inconsistencies, scenes that don't add to the book, etc. As I re-write and tighten, I also look for excess words - that, was, had, and -ing words. The last thing I do is a "find and replace" for those words.

After all of that, I print it out again and let it sit again for a while - maybe only one week, then I read it again. If I'm satisfied with the product, it's sent out. If not, I do the above over again.

Josh Lockwood
I usually set it aside for a couple of weeks, clear my mind so to speak, then open it up again and read it as though it were someone else’s novel. It’s odd but, by doing that, I can immediately see the weaknesses, where it needs more depth or explanation.

After that I normally send it out to my critique partner, to get her feel for it. Once I get the feedback from her, I start the revising and polishing process.

Judy Huston
Put it away for a few days – a week if you can bear to be separated from it for so long – and resist the urge to add, subtract or do anything at all to it in that time. Do other things such as clean up the study.

When the time is up, find yourself a quiet spot and read your novel as if it’s a book written by someone else. Keep a pen handy and make a note of things such as slow sections, inconsistencies in time, place or character, repetitions, and areas of long exposition that could be replaced by direct action or dialogue. Then start rewriting those parts that are obviously in need of work. You’ll be surprised at how much your novel improves and tightens up immediately.

Angie Martin
Once the first draft is done... I yell Whoo-hoo! And then of course, it's time to edit. Usually I try to let it sit for a while, to try to get some distance from my story and my characters. This is the tricky part, because now once it's done all I want to do is polish it and make it better, you know, changing dialogue... making sure someone isn't sitting in a car while speaking to suddenly be inside the house without ever having actually gotten out of the car, or walked up to the house.

April Name Game


If you know the answer, post it as a comment. The first correct answer wins an e-book from this author's backlist. You'll need to check back to see if you won. Good luck!

1. My first book released in December 2006 with By Grace Publishing.

2. I homeschool my children.

3. I wrote a story for one of the Moonlit Romance Beach Party duets in 2007.

4. The book cover for my next By Grace release, Meeting Mr. Right Online is on my website.

5. My story is the first one in the By Grace winter themed anthology, Winter Wonders.

Moonlit Romance Backlist Spotlight: *The Fixer-Uppers* by Cynthianna Appel


Cynthianna (Appel) is a multi-published author who enjoys writing light-hearted, contemporary romantic fiction. Her contemporary-romances The Fixer-Uppers and Preachin’ to the Choir were released by Moonlit Romance. She recently has branched out into fantasy romantic-comedy. Details about this can be found on her website. You can read excerpts at Cynthianna’s web site: Her blog is “Confessions of a Blonde Writer” at and you can join her monthly e-newsletter at

Back Cover Blurb

Can a single mom find happiness on a blind date—or at least dinner with a male who can cut up his own food? Cassie and Mike believe they're "in like" not "in love." But when down-on-his-luck Mike is evicted, Cassie takes him in. Mike starts fixing everything from window screens to broken hearts. Will Cassie let him fix hers?

The Fixer-Uppers by Cynthianna Appel ~ Excerpt

Mike’s chin brushed against the top of her hair. “Hmm, you smell really nice. What kind of perfume do you have on?”

Cassie stood entranced. She knew she should move away from Mike, but somehow her body refused to follow orders from her brain. 

  “It’s called Red Door. I got it as a birthday present many years ago. I hardly ever wear it anymore. I’m trying to make it last.”  She closed her eyes, trying hard to break the spell, but it was hopeless. “Hmm, you smell good, too.”

 Mike dropped his head a little lower. Cassie felt his warm breath tickling her neck and d├ęcolletage.

“Thanks,” he replied. “I like your robe. I like it a lot.”

She felt warm all over. The room seemed to be swaying beneath her feet. She coughed to clear her suddenly dry throat. “Yeah, it’s a nice robe.” The room began to spin faster as she breathed in deeply the masculine scent of him. “I don’t wear it around much since it has the tendency to slide off me at the most inconvenient times.”

Mike’s lips lightly brushed against her earlobe. “Show me,” he whispered.

Her knees turned to liquid. She knew she had to get a grip on herself, turn the conversation around somehow, but she couldn’t. A moment later the acrid smell of burning cloth brought her back to reality.


 He nuzzled her earlobe again. “Hmm, yes?”

She opened one eye slowly. “I think we’ve ruined my dress.”

“I’ll get you a new one.” He took the iron from her and yanked the plug from the wall.

 “What’ll I wear tonight then?”

He put the iron down and slowly turned her to face him.  “I like what you’ve got on now.”

The Fixer-Uppers
by Cynthianna Appel
Moonlit Romance (