January 30, 2014

The Girl Before Eve by Lisa J. Hobman

One of my fave new authors, Lisa J. Hobman has a new romance that'll be released on my birthday. Is that a sign that I need this book or what? I know what present I'll be buying for myself this month! :) If Lisa's first two books are any indication, I'll be alternately chuckling and weeping my way through The Girl Before Eve.

Press Release Launch Kit
The Girl Before Eve
Lisa J. Hobman

Available from 5 Prince Publishing www.5princebooks.com  books@5princebooks.com
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Contemporary
Release Date: January 30, 2014
Digital ISBN 13: 978-1-939217-95-0   ISBN 10: 1-939217-95-4
Print ISBN 13: 978-1-939217-96-7     ISBN 10: 1-939217-96-2

Unrequited love is the biggest heartache…
Lily and Adam have been best friends since the dawn of time.  Well, the dawn of their time.  Okay…since primary school actually.  Everyone accepted them as best friends.  Until one day, aged 18, Lily made a fateful discovery.  She was head over heels in love.
With Adam.

Her unrequited feelings are hard to deal with initially but become even harder when Lily inadvertently introduces him to the love of his life.  It all started as a bit of a joke thanks to the other woman's name.


Many years later and Adam is once again single and heartbroken and Lily is there to help him pick up the pieces.  Her methods are sometimes a little unorthodox and lead to ridiculous consequences. 

Can Lily help Adam move on and find happiness again?  And can either of the friends recover from losing the love of their lives?

Sometimes the one thing you want is way out of reach.

Author Bio:
Lisa is a happily married mum of one with two crazy dogs and a passion for writing.  After relocating to Scotland from England and writing her first novel she gave up on running a craft business to do what she loves full time and is now putting the finishing touches to books four and five so watch this space.

Public contact information
Twitter: @LivingScottishD
Web: www.lisajhobman.co.uk

Excerpt of The Girl Before Eve:
Friends Will Be Friends (Queen)
The Beginning of Lily and Adam - Primary School 1986
“She is my friend, Stewart Campbell, and if I see you pinch anything from her ever, ever again or try to push her over, I will punch you on the nose, and then I’ll tell Mrs. Craven and she’ll tell your mum, and then you’ll be grounded…forever!” Adam yelled as he towered over the snivelling little blonde-haired boy whose T-shirt he was grasping.
“I’m going to tell my dad on you, and he’ll come to your house and kick your dad’s arse, and he’s lots bigger than your dad, you smelly pig!” Stewart retorted through his tears and threw the packet of crisps on the playground, the contents spilling out. He stamped on the crisps, crumbling them under his feet.
Adam laughed in the other boy’s face. “Oh no, he isn’t, and now I’m going to tell Mrs. Craven that you said a swear word! Don’t you ever hurt her again, do you hear me? She’s a girl and you should never, ever hit girls or pinch their snack. And now you’ve dropped it on the floor and she hasn’t got one. You’re just mean and nasty, Stewart Campbell. And that’s why nobody likes you!” Adam released the blonde boy’s T-shirt and pushed him away. The boy ran off to the other side of the playground just as the lunchtime supervisor came around the corner. She must have noticed the gathered crowd of children.
“Everything alright over here, Adam?” the tall, red-haired lady asked with a sour look on her face.
“Yes, Mrs. Craven. Stewart Campbell said a rude word though, so I told him off and said I was going to tell.”
“Oh did he now? That boy needs to learn some manners. I think I’ll tell his teacher. Perhaps a quick call home might be in order.” Mrs. Craven glanced toward Adam’s friend just as Lily wiped the tears from her eyes and pushed the mass of wild, dark curls from her damp face. “Lily? Have you been crying?”
Lily nodded.
“What happened?” Mrs. Craven asked, narrowing her eyes.
Lily worriedly looked to Adam.
“It’s okay, Mrs. Craven. Stewart was being mean and he took her snack and threw it on the floor and stamped on it. But I told him off for that, too.”
Mrs. Craven smiled and ruffled Adam’s scruffy, dark hair. “Eeeh, for nothing but a six-year-old boy you do look after her well, don’t you, son? You keep that up.” She patted his head lightly and then turned to walk over to where Stewart had run off to sulk.
Once Mrs. Craven was out of sight and the crowd of children had dispersed, Adam turned to Lily. “Here, you can have the rest of my crisps if you like.” He held out the blue crinkly packet to her.
“Thank you, Adders,” she croaked, almost in a whisper. “Youre my bestest friend.”
“Aye, I know that and you’re my bestest friend too, Lil, and Stewart Campbell is just a big meanie. You need to stay away from him. I’ll make sure he isn’t nasty to you again though. Don’t worry.” The two children walked over to the grass and sat down side by side.
“Are you coming to my house for tea on Saturday? My papa says we can have the paddling pool out if it’s sunny?” Lily asked munching on the salt and vinegar crisps.
Adam nodded. “Yep…I can’t wait. I’ve got one of those big water pistols that soak you through, so you’d better watch out.” He nudged her with a wide grin fixed in place.
She giggled. “Yeah, well I’m going to make sure I get my big sand castle bucket out then, and it holds about ten gallons of water, so you’d better watch out.” She nudged him back.
He snorted. “It does not! And anyway I’m a faster runner than you, so you’d better watch out.” He chuckled.
“It does, too! And you’re not faster than me…you run like a girl!” Lily jumped to her feet and set off at a sprint, her musical laughter echoing behind her.
“I’ll get you Lily Macrae! Just you wait!” Adam laughed heartily as he sprang up from the grass and set off in pursuit.
And there began the soundtrack to Adam and Lily’s lives…

~ ~ ~
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January 25, 2014

Solved: SyncUp Folder Not Found

If you have a Dell computer and your backups fail every single time because some files weren't found and backed up (it's always the dratted c:\windows\system32\config\systemprofile\syncup folder that wasn't found), and you're obsessive enough that you have to go in there and click on it to make sure that's the folder and not a folder that's important to you, then this post is for you. :)

Solving tech issues isn't my usual subject matter, but this one has been bugging me for a couple of years. And I fixed it by myself. Woo-hoo!

I should note that the root of the problem is the complete and utter inability to uninstall SyncUp from a Dell computer without downloading software and digging into the registry and other stuff that would end up in seriously FUBARing most people's computers because most people don't have the tech know-how to do said stuff. Seriously, SyncUp is so hard to get rid of that it's practically malware. Uninstall doesn't work on it at all. Boo.

But my Band-Aid solution works like a charm.

Again: Woo-hoo!

Here's how it works:

"Computer," I said, "your backups are failing because you can't find that silly old SyncUp folder? Well, let's just give you a SyncUp folder, then." So I did. I went to c:\windows\system32\config\systemprofile\ and I created a new folder in there, and I named it "SyncUp." Then I ran my backup. And it didn't fail!

I know a proper solution would strip out all traces of the offending software. I know my computer is now backing up an empty folder. But I'm OK with that because I made the error message go away, and I'm happy, and my life is sparkly, and I can go back to writing romance novels.

One last time: Woo-hoo!

~ ~ ~

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January 23, 2014

Courting Darkness by Melynda Price

If you like paranormal romance...

Available from 5 Prince Publishing
www.5princebooks.com  books@5princebooks.com
Genre: Fiction / Romance/ Paranormal
Release Date: January 23, 2014
Digital ISBN 13: 978-1-939217-91-2  
           ISBN 10: 1-939217-91-1
Print ISBN 13: 978-1-939217-92-9    
        ISBN 10: 1-939217-92-X

She’s captured the hearts of Heaven and Hell…

Betrayed by her true love, Olivia cannot let go of the angel her mind doesn’t remember, and her heart refuses to forget. In an attempt to reclaim her broken life, she is determined to unearth her past, but some secrets are better left buried.

To save her life, he sacrificed everything. Universal Law was broken when Liam violated Olivia’s free will. His guardianship has been revoked, and the pain of letting her go is nothing compared to the torture of enduring their shattered bond. He can no longer sense her, no longer feel her, and the enemy he risked it all to save her from, now has free reign to claim her for his own. To get her back, Liam must turn away from all he is, all he was, for the one thing he may have already lost forever—Olivia’s love.

Haden will stop at nothing to possess Immanuel’s Stone, and locked away in Olivia’s memories is the key he needs to find it. But in his quest for vengeance, he never expected to lose his heart to the enchanting green-eyed beauty. Forced to choose between love and revenge, Haden becomes captivated by a woman who will never be his…or will she?

Melynda Price:
An avid lover of paranormal romance, Melynda was inspired to write the Redemption Series after reading the Book of Enoch. She’s always had a fascination with stories about angels, and the role they’ve played in the history of our multi-dimensional world.

She attended Bethel University in Minnesota holding AA, ASN and BSN degrees, but her true love is creative writing and story-telling.

She lives in Northern Minnesota where she has plenty of snow-filled days to curl up in front of the fireplace with her Chihuahua, and a hot cup of coffee, to write. She’s blessed with two amazing children, and a wonderful husband of nineteen years.

Redemption Series:
“Writing the Redemption Series has been a fantastic adventure, culminating a world of mystery, suspense, love and deception. Have you ever wondered what it might be like to see beyond our dimension? Step into Olivia Norton’s world, where nothing is quite as it seems, and evil lurks where she least expects it.”
Visit Melynda at www.MelyndaPrice.com

Public contact information

Excerpt of Courting Darkness:
Guardian? Olivia’s pulse kicked in her throat, choking off her air in a startled gasp. At the last moment, she jerked her hand back before Tate could make contact. Oh shit, this guy was crazier than she was. Stumbling away from her “guardian,” her retreat was halted when she collided with the wall, smacking the back of her head.
Tate winced with a that-must-have-hurt grimace as the bang echoed throughout the elevator.
It did. A lot.
“Actually, I’m your new guardian.”
She reached up to rub away the sting, scowling at the stranger as if this was his fault. Two thoughts crossed Olivia’s mind. One, you’re about to become a skin suit. And two, play along with this nut job until the elevator stops, then run like hell.
Swallowing back the panic, she forced a negligent shrug. “New guardian, huh? What happened to my old one? He get fired or something?”
At her sarcastic bark of laughter, the stranger gave her a disapproving scowl and grumbled, “Something like that. And he’s not too happy about it, either.”
Could this elevator go any slower? Looking at the very large, very attractive man, no one in their right mind would ever suspect he was bat-shit crazy. Perhaps that was how he lured unsuspecting women into his web of death—right before he Ted Bundyed them.
Humoring the guy and yes, stalling while this elevator took the painfully slow journey from the sixth floor to the lobby, she asked, “So, what did he do to uhh… get fired?”
“The fact that you don’t know is precisely the reason.”
Well, that’s…cryptic.
The elevator suddenly came to a jarring halt between floors, pitching Olivia forward. Her hands shot out, bracing for a fall, palms planting solidly against his chest. The rich scent of muted spices enveloped her, reminding Olivia of…nothing. Dammit, another black hole.
Trying to play it cool, she hastened an apology and quickly retreated to her respective corner of the elevator. Pinching the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger, she closed her eyes and drew a deep breath that failed to calm her jangled nerves. “I’m trying to follow you here, I really am. But I don’t see what my having amnesia has to do with you or my so-called ‘guardian.’”
“You don’t have amnesia.”
A cynical bark of unladylike laughter tore from her throat. “Well, that’s good to know. But I’ve got about twenty-thousand dollars worth of medical bills that beg to differ with your diagnosis, Dr. Tate.”
She reached over and slammed her palm against the “emergency” button on the control panel, sending a shrill alarm up the elevator shaft.
Tate scowled, making no attempt to disguise his irritation as he reached in front of her and very pointedly hit the button again. The sharp ringing abruptly ceased. “Look, Olivia, your free will has been violated, and it’s imperative that I speak with you about this. I— Why are you looking at me like that?” he snapped impatiently.
“Because I never told you my name. How do you know me?”
“I already told you. I’m your guardian. I assure you, I have no intention of harming you, Olivia.”
“Guardian of what?” she challenged. “Because you certainly don’t look like an angel to me.” Just how naive did this guy think she was? What kind of a creep would hang out at a psychiatrist’s office and prey on emotionally damaged women? Did this guy really have nothing better to do with his time?
He exhaled an exasperated breath, muttering something about stubborn women and never wanting this job in the first place. When he looked back at her, he seemed to have rallied a measure of patience. “Exactly what is it we’re supposed to look like, Olivia?”
Well, for starters, how about not huge, hot, and terrifying?
“Am I to have a halo over my head, wear a white flowing dress, and sprinkle fairy dust about wherever I go?”
The sudden arch of his dark brow suggested he was poking fun at her. She was having none of it. “Well, that would help,” she quipped back with equal snark to his sarcasm.
“Sorry… I’m not that kind of an angel.”
An angel! Seriously…? He wasn’t even denying it!
Suddenly, as if a light clicked on, it all made sense to her. This guy must be one of Dr. Shriner’s patients. He had to have been in the office and overheard the secretary calling her name—that’s how he knew her. Oh shit…then this guy really was crazy, which was a hell of a lot more terrifying than hypothetical nuts.
Her hands swung up to back him off. “Look, Tate, maybe you don’t mean to scare me, but you are. Honestly, you’re really freaking me out right now. If you truly believe that you’re my guardian angel, then you need some serious help. Perhaps you should talk to Dr. Shriner about this God complex you seem to have. I’m sure she can help you, but please, leave me alone.”
At her request, the elevator jerked and continued its descent. His furrowed brows were a combination of frustrated and pissed off, and neither look said “hey, you can trust me not to kill you.”
As the elevator chimed, announcing they’d reached the lobby, Olivia made a final attempt to diffuse the situation. “I thank you for your concern, but I don’t want a guardian and I don’t need a guardian.” As the metal prison doors slowly slid open, she bolted for the exit, slipping out sideways before they could even open all the way.
“You’re wrong, Olivia. You need me,” Tate called after her. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”
At this taunting reply, she glanced over her shoulder, making sure he wasn’t following her. With each hurried step, her sandals clapped briskly against the gray tile floor. When the elevator doors slid closed, she caught a glimpse of Tate dragging his hand through his hair, growling what she could only imagine was a very unangel-like curse.
Olivia exhaled a sigh of relief to be away from the nut job and hastened her steps. The moment she was safely locked inside her car, she’d call up to Dr. Shriner’s office and report this Tate, whatever his last name was. Someone definitely needed to adjust that guy’s meds.
Rushing out the glass doors, her poorly anchored sandals slapped against the marble steps with rapid-fire clap, clap, clap. She was nearly to the sidewalk, her black Camaro in sight, when the stranger suddenly materialized out of thin air.
Olivia let out a startled yelp. Headed right for him, she put on the brakes, but the laws of physics were not in her favor. Momentum pitched her forward, her foot slipping off the step and hitting the one below. White-hot pain exploded in her ankle as it rolled beneath her. Her knee buckled under the duress and she reached for the iron railing, trying to catch herself before face-planting into the now scowling man.
He looked as if he wanted to come to her aid, but wisely stayed back. “Are you all right?” he asked, sounding genuinely concerned.
She wasn’t buyin’ it. He was probably worried she’d scuff her knees and damage his skin suit.
“Are you all right, dear?” an elderly woman asked, hobbling over to her. The well-meaning geriatric looked like she needed more help than Olivia did, but she was limited on her choice of saviors, so granny was gonna have to do.
“No. I’m not all right,” Olivia replied, unable to keep the panic from edging into her voice. Lifting an accusing finger, she directed it at the stranger and accused, “This man is harassing me.”
Following the direction of Olivia’s outstretched arm, the old woman’s cataract-grayed eyes squinted to the bottom of the marble steps. After a moment of hard looking, she readjusted her glasses and gave it another try. “Dear, there’s no one there.”
“Oh Lord, I really am crazy,” she murmured.
Grandma laid a sympathetic hand on Olivia’s arm and gave it a patronizing pat.
“You’re not crazy,” the figment of her imagination piped in.
“Let me get someone to help you,” sweet granny offered. “Here, take my cane and sit on the bench.” She gestured to the vacant wrought iron bench on the sidewalk, precisely four feet from Olivia’s very large, very muscular illusion.
“She can’t see me,” he explained, taking a step up the marble stairs. “Let me help you, Olivia.”
The familiarity in the way he used her name added insult to injury. Ignoring his offer, she tested the strength of her ankle. When it refused to hold her weight, she begrudgingly accepted the old woman’s cane. “Thank you. I just need to sit for a minute. I’m sure my ankle will be all right.”
“I’ll get you some help.”
Before Olivia could protest, the Good Samaritan hobbled away, leaning heavily on the railing as she snail-paced it up the stairs.
“Are you always this stubborn?” her illusion asked, folding his arms across his wide chest. He followed a few steps behind as she gimped to the bench. On the plus side, if she was going to start imagining guys, at least she made them hot.
“Ignoring me won’t make me any less real,” he persisted.
Then Plan A was a bust, because that was exactly what she’d intended to do. “Will it make you go away?” she snapped.
“No. Not until I tell you what I came here to say.”
Somehow, Olivia wasn’t so sure that even then, he would leave her alone. But the way she saw it, she had two things going for her. One, if Tate was a figment of her imagination, then at least he couldn’t kill her. Two, if by some unexplainable phenomena he really did exist, then it was doubtful he’d whack her right here in public. So either way, it was unlikely death was imminent. Besides, Grandma was going for help, albeit not as quickly as Olivia would have liked, but help was on its way.
“All right then, talk,” she snapped impatiently, looking down at her watch. Shit…she was going to be late. “Tell me whatever it is you have to say and then go.”
He stood before her, dark brows scrunching in displeasure. Clearly, he didn’t appreciate her candidness—or perhaps being told what to do. This guy looked like he was more used to giving orders than taking them. She had to admit, for a figment of her imagination, his commanding presence felt pretty damn intimidating.
He watched her a moment in contemplative silence. Then, as if deciding on something, knelt on the sidewalk before her. “Let me see your ankle.”
She didn’t miss the note of impatience in his voice. Before she could refuse, he reached out and gently but firmly grasped her foot, slipping off her sandal.
His touch sent a jolt of awareness flooding her veins. “You are real,” she gasped, unable to deny the power coursing through his hands and seeping into her ankle. Liquid heat spread up her leg as the throbbing pain steadily diminished. “Why can I see you but that woman couldn’t?”
Tate stopped the assessment of her injury and glanced up at her with a dark violet gaze that made her heart ache with unexplainable loss. She didn’t like the way he made her feel. The emotions he stirred to life were painful and confusing. As a surge of overwhelming grief knifed into her heart, she suddenly found herself fighting back the urge to start sobbing.
“That old woman couldn’t see me because I wasn’t in corporeal form. You can see me because you have the gift of Sight, Olivia. Your eyesight can transcend dimensions, which means you possess the ability to see angels and demons. I can block your sight, demons cannot, which is why you’re in danger. You are a threat to the Dark Court because you can expose them. They want you dead. My job is to make sure that doesn’t happen. Your job is to let me do my job, and so far you haven’t been cooperating very well.”
He focused his attention back on her ankle, and Olivia winced when his fingers found a particularly tender spot. His grimace looked genuinely remorseful. Maybe, just maybe, he was telling her the truth. And if he was…God help her.
“Back in the elevator, you said you were my new guardian. What happened to my old one and why can’t I remember him? What was his name?”
Seeming overly focused on his task, he looked reluctant to answer, his dark brows furrowing in contemplation. “Look, Olivia, I’m not even supposed to be here, and I’m sure as hell not supposed to be telling you this. But the way I see it, you haven’t given me any other choice. Your life is at stake—”
“Tell me his name,” she pressed, believing Tate more and more with each passing second. Something told her he spoke the truth. The comforting heat infusing her ankle warred with the dread churning in her gut. Could it be possible that this…angel held the answers she’d spent the last eight weeks seeing a shrink to get? After two months of therapy, she wasn’t any closer to the truth now than before. “Tate…”
He gave a pensive sigh and met her stare. “His name is Liam.”
Her heart hammered against her chest at hearing the same name her mother had spoken the night she’d picked Olivia up from that hospital in Duluth. She hadn’t uttered it since, and wouldn’t talk of it now, even when Olivia had pressed her for answers. Her mother claimed she didn’t know anything. The only thing she could tell her was that Liam was an “old boyfriend” from several years ago. Minutes before she was to walk down the aisle and marry Mitch, he’d snuck into the church and abducted her. Kim didn’t know anything beyond that, other than there had been an accident. She’d been in a coma for days before Liam had called her mother and father to come and get her. By the time Olivia had awoken, he was gone, and so was her memory.
“There were rumors…that he loved you. That he…” Tate cleared his throat, seeming uncomfortable to continue. Casting his gaze to the ground he murmured, “That he…crossed boundaries of an intimate nature with you.”
Oh Lord…had he? Did they? She couldn’t remember.
“I should say, in his defense, that these allegations were never proven in court. But ultimately, he lost his guardianship of you because he violated Universal Law. Even though his bond to you has been severed, and he can no longer feel your emotions, I believe your connection to him remains. Although you can no longer remember him, I think you’re still in love with him, Olivia. And as long as you are, I cannot bond to you. Without that bond, I can’t sense you. I cannot tell when you’re in danger so I can’t keep you safe.”
Tate’s hands left her ankle to grasp one of hers—pleadingly. Were someone to see them across the street, one might think he was proposing to her. His grip was strong, surprisingly gentle. It seemed crazy, but she’d swear she felt his energy coursing through her veins as he looked up at her, imploring, “Olivia, you have to let him go. If you don’t, I can’t protect you and you will surely die.”
“This is crazy. How can you expect me to stop loving someone I can’t even remember? And what exactly does that mean? Violating Universal Law?” Her mind was reeling, trying to absorb the information he’d just dumped on her. She was still stuck back in the conversation where her guardian was in love with her. And she loved him, too? Really? Was that why her heart ached so? Why she felt like a part of her was missing?
“Universal Law demands that at all costs, a human’s free will must be honored—even unto death. You don’t have amnesia, Olivia. Liam stole your memory—”
“There you are, dear,” an aged voice called from the stairs.
She swung her head to look over her shoulder. A security officer was escorting the hobbling old woman toward Olivia. The warm hands that held hers disappeared, and when she glanced back, Tate was gone.

~ ~ ~
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January 21, 2014

The Lovely and Amazing Jeannie Lin

Courtney Milan (who knows a lot about publishing) has this to say about Harlequin.

And she outs some downright nonsensical sales/marketing strategies followed by big publishers.

She also has stuff to say about a wonderful Chinese historical romance by the lovely and amazing author Jeannie Lin. Stuff that made me buy this book:

by Jeannie Lin

If your interest in Chinese historical romance has been piqued (how cool that there is such a genre!) pop over to Amazon and buy The Lotus Palace, too. You'll be glad you did.

~ ~ ~

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January 17, 2014

Why Books Cost More in Canada

Today it finally became time for me to reevaluate the rose-colored glasses I've been wearing.

I wanted so bad to keep my books' Canadian prices the same as the US prices. Unfortunately, though, it takes heaps and heaps of money to get books into Canada. That's not fair to anyone except the shipping companies, but outrageous shipping costs are a fact of life way up here in canucky-nuck land.

I love them. They're just so cute:

And I need to do what's right for them. They're not my children, exactly (they're much quieter), but they do need me from time to time.

So I talked with my bookstore lady (Paula at Black Bear Books in Creston), who feels that raising the price is the smart thing to do, and I'm going to go with what she feels is a suitable price point for my books.

I'll get over it, I guess, but for today I'm just a little bit sad about high book prices in Canada.

~ ~ ~

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January 16, 2014

Christine Steendam's Owned by the Ocean

Ooh, a prequel on the high seas. :-) Here's Canadian author Christine Steendam's Owned by the Ocean,

which is currently free at Smashwords!

Available from 5 Prince Publishing 
Genre: Fiction, Action,
Adventure, Historical, Romance, Sea Stories
Release Date: January 16, 2014
Digital ISBN 13: 978-1-63112-004-6 ISBN 10:1-63112-004-2

Owned By the Ocean
Brant’s life is planned for him. He will attend the best academic school in England, run his father’s estate, and marry well. But, with the sea calling to him, and a father that treats him more like a soldier to be commanded than a son, he takes off to find his own destiny.

What Brant doesn’t know, is that the sea is a cruel mistress, and once she owns you she won’t let you go.

About the Author:
Christine started writing when she could put pen to paper and form words. Now, many years later, not much has changed.

Her stories are romances that you can relate to with a little bit of adventure mixed in. She enjoys writing flawed but loveable characters and more often than
not a horse or two will find their way in as well.

Christine makes her home in Manitoba, Canada on a sprawling 15 acre ranch withher sons, husband, and many animals.

Excerpt of Owned by the Ocean:
England, 1660

Brant looked up from his scribbler at his teacher who was droning on about something to do with the politics behind the colonization of the new world... or was it the precarious peace with Spain? Either way, he didn’t really care. Time was moving at a snail’s pace. Every tick of the clock sounded like a hammer hitting an anvil, the boy two rows down was scratching his head. Brant was pretty sure he had lice. In front of him another boy was drumming his fingers incessantly. Every noise and movement was grating and more in focus than Mr. Johnson’s teaching.
Brant shut out everything around him and looked down at the open page of his scribbler. He was supposed to be writing notes but instead the page was covered with carelessly doodled shapes or words that had nothing to do with what Mr. Johnson was teaching.
At sixteen, Brant Foxton had no interest in the politics, grammar, or math that filled each and every day at the school for young men he attended. All he wanted was to leave the masquerade called London society and sail. He had expressed this desire many times over to his father, Sir Calvin Foxton, but he would hear nothing of it.
Calvin Foxton had served his King faithfully for many years in both the army and then as a member of his council. He had been knighted when Brant was but five years old, a moment in history that he could remember being filled with excitement and honor for his father. Too bad it didn’t take long for Brant to realize that he was treated more like a soldier than a son.
This past year, after many attempts at convincing his father to allow him to attend the royal naval academy, Brant had been sent to a prestigious boarding school in the heart of London where he was to be polished and educated for service to the crown as the gentleman his family name required. There would be no sails, sword or pistols in Brant's future. Instead it held paper work, money and bowing and scraping before the King. That was the life of nobility in England and that was to be the life of Brant Foxton. That was his father's plan.
Brant stopped his doodling and looked around. Some of the boys were asleep, others intently taking notes and listening to the teacher. Most of the boys at this school were everything their parents expected them to be. The picture of young men of society, they walked and talked exactly as they were instructed, turned their noses up at those less fortunate than them, and flaunted money—that many didn’t have but their name allowed them to pretend—like it was their job. They were raised to outwardly respect someone like Brant due to his family's status but many whispered behind his back or snickered over their afternoon tea. Brant was an anomaly, someone who didn’t care about prestige, money, and would very willingly throw it all away for a chance at a different future.
Brant was not an overly kind boy, nor humble. He hated his father and family name, he hated the school and the teachers, he hated the boys who hid behind masks their parents had forced on them, and most of all he hated that he was considered to be among them. He was better than this and he knew it. He was better than the acting and the back stabbing that he saw among the boys.
London was full of hypocrites. Brant may be blatantly cavalier and didn’t give a damn, but the boys he went to school with participated in the same activities, but behind well-kept facades. No one but themselves and perhaps their closest friends knew about the things they did that their family would disapprove of. But they all did them. Brant had seen the older boys get drunk and steal things from the younger ones. He had seen, and been a victim of, their bullying behind closed doors. But they all hid it from the outside world, from prying eyes. To the public, to the teachers, they were everything young gentlemen should be. Everyone but Brant Foxton.
The class was dismissed and Brant left the room in a shuffle of feet and a murmur of voices. Politics had been the last class of the day and they now had the evening for free time until dinner was called. Brant went up to his room that he shared with two other boys and, lying on his bed, pulled out a military strategy book he had taken from the library. There was no military strategy class offered since the boys that went here didn't need to know about battle formations and military hierarchy. But, the library carried books on the subject and Brant spent his free time educating himself on everything he would need to know to join the navy. He hoped that with the knowledge he gained from reading he would be able to make his way through the ranks quickly and become an officer in short order. Of course his father would not even consider forgiving him until he made Captain, then perhaps he could consider Brant was upholding the family name in an honorable fashion. But, until he was prepared, he would remain in school and learn what he could, then take his leave and endure his father's disapproval.
Things had changed when Brant's mother passed away six years earlier. Calvin had become hard on his son, without his gentle wife to keep him in line. Brant's brother; James, who was now six, was mostly taken care of by a nurse and the maids. Calvin Foxton didn't have much time for his youngest son, not when he was reminded of his wife, who had died giving birth to him, every time he saw him. Brant guessed that his mother was the only person Calvin Foxton had ever been gentle with. He had been young when his mother passed, only ten, but from what he remembered she was a kind woman, and had truly loved her husband, which was not something he saw often among other couples.
It had been an arranged marriage, as many of them were, and Suzanne had been ten years Calvin's junior. However, they had fallen in love during their years together, and Brant was certain his father would have given Suzanne Foxton anything she wanted. If she gave him even a disapproving look when Calvin adopted his military background with his son he would immediately melt and become a loving and kind father. That had disappeared when Suzanne passed away. Suddenly there was only military discipline and his father was detached from him in every way. No longer did Brant have loving parents but instead he had a commander and he was nothing more than a delinquent soldier. It had been a drastic change that had embittered Brant towards his father. He was convinced that if his mother was alive he would have been allowed to join the Royal Navy. She had always wanted what was best for Brant and what would make him happy in the long run. Calvin would have nothing to do with that now. The military was not the place for his son, especially the sea. There was nothing glamorous about being an officer, Captain, or Commodore. They were respected if they served the King well and had some kind of military genius that brought them to his attention but otherwise they were just another civil servant making low pay and risking their lives for honor that Brant shouldn't have to earn any longer. He was born with it.
Leo, one of his roommates walked in, took one look at Brant and laughed. “All you ever do is study those useless books. That won't help you at all with your marks here.”
“I don't really care about my marks here.”
“You should. Your father is going to beat you if you fail.”
Brant laughed. “He can try. I'm getting a bit old for him to slap around.”
Leo was two years Brant's senior and had two years left in the school. He was looking to take over his father's business in Jamaica where he owned a sugar cane plantation.
Out of all the boys in school, Leo was probably the only one Brant considered a friend. In society Leo was what every young man should be, but in his circle of friends he was better known as a womanizer and a gambler. When his father sent him money, Leo made his way to a local brothel where he spent time with Claire, a pretty little blonde that had been used one too many times and had a sad look behind her eyes. He was kind to her though, and when he went out with the guys he would invite her along. Although her company was paid for, she was accepted among them as a friend. One couldn’t help the circumstances life had dealt someone.
When the money didn't come Leo would pull out his charm and woo a pretty second or third class girl that dreamed of a man like Leo coming along and marrying her, turning her into a real lady. It was never going to happen though. And every time, it was the same, hopeful laughter turning into disappointed tears. It bothered Brant that Leo could be so self-absorbed, yet he considered himself fortunate to be his friend.
Leo was kind enough to most of the boys, but he enjoyed putting some of the more pompous pricks in their place. When Brant had started out his year Leo had considered Brant just one of those; a pompous prick who curtailed off his daddy and thought himself better than everyone else. But, for the most part, Leo was humble and kind. He never considered other boys inferior, even if society deemed them so, and always treated everyone with respect. Even outside of society he seemed to ignore the boundaries and distinction and class and mingled without prejudice. That was what Brant liked about Leo. And for that, he overlooked his friend’s less than upstanding behavior.
Leo and Brant were not so fortunate as to have the third boy who shared their room follow their life philosophies. Robert was a second year student, right between Brant and Leo. He was self-important and had delusions of grandeur. His family was on the verge of losing everything, and everyone knew it. Yet, they held onto their expensive taste, threw just as many dinner parties as before, and turned up their noses at anyone they considered beneath them. They sent Robert to school on their good name and credit, but he strutted the halls as if his father was the King himself and treated the younger boys with such disdain that you would have thought them his servants. He never said a word to Brant or Leo after he discovered they had no interest in playing along. Instead, they took every opportunity to take him down a notch. A biting comment or a prank usually managed to put him in his place for a short time.
“Are you going home for Christmas?” asked Brant, looking up from his book.
Leo too had lay down on his bed and was studying his arithmetic. He looked over at Brant. “Of course. I believe my father is coming to get me next week. Are you?”
“I suppose. My father hasn't visited me except that one time I got in trouble for pouring ink down Robert's jacket.”
Leo chuckled, presumably at the memory of Robert’s face turning a plum shade of purple from anger and embarrassment. “He's a tough one but I'm sure he only wants what's best for you.”
Brant scoffed, “What's best for me? Perhaps, but he has a very narrow view of what's best.”
Leo put down his book and sat up. “I like you, Brant, but I also think you're in serious need of an attitude adjustment. You father has worked very hard to get where he is now and you don’t appreciate what he has given you. He doesn't want his life for you. The navy is not easy and often ends in tragedy. Take the easy way. Your father worked hard so you would have the best things in life.”
“It's not about status and courts and money to me. I don't want to be stuck in a life where everyone plays a role and wears a mask. I want adventure and freedom.”
“Then you are naive. You think adventure is glamorous? If so I think you will find yourself disappointed. This life isn't so bad. I have fun still.”
“But your parents, anyone outside of your circle of friends has no idea what you're truly like.”
“That's not true. I still act like myself; I just choose to practice discretion in revealing some of my less than appropriate habits. Speaking of which, my father sent some money again. Would you like to go play some cards?”
Brant looked back at his book for a moment then sighed, “Why not? It's that or stay here reading.”
Leo laughed. “That's the spirit. Come on let’s dig into your trust fund a little and make use of some of your father's hard earned money.”

~ ~ ~
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January 10, 2014

Editing Tip: Make Your Dangling Participles Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb

Do sneaky little dangling participles crop up in your manuscript and make your characters do multiple things at once in a physically impossible or unintentionally hilarious manner? Or are you an editor working with a dangle-challenged author? Then you're going to love this trick.

If you have a deep-seated problem with dangling participles and use them even more abundantly than what we're talking about today, you'll probably want to stick with a simpler search string like "ing"; but today we're going to hitch up our techie big-girl panties and use a regular expression.

Hang in there with me. It's way more magical than it sounds.

Back up your file before you try any tricksy tricks with Find & Replace. Find & Replace has the power to cause a truckload of grief. In fact, Find & Replace probably should come with a warning that says, "Abandon hope, all ye who go here."

OK, so you're all saved and backed up. And you want to use Find & Replace to highlight every single instance of a paragraph break followed by a dangling participle. Right? Of course you do.

For this extremely specific search to work, you're going to need to do some preparation to get rid of any extraneous characters that would prevent the search from succeeding. Do the following steps in order (really, you should be doing these steps for every manuscript anyway):

  • If you've used tabs to indent your paragraphs, you'll need to get rid of them. Use Find and Replace to replace every tab character with a space character. In the Find field, type (without the quotation marks) "^t"—a caret and a t. In the Replace field, type a space. Hit Replace All. Then select all the text in your manuscript and use Word's indent feature to add a half-inch indent to the first line of each paragraph. You'll want to remove the indent from all centered text, headings, etc. afterward.
  • You need to eliminate all extra spaces. Use Find & Replace to find all occurrences of two consecutive spaces and replace them with one space. Repeat this step until there are no more occurrences of two spaces.
  • You need to eliminate all extra spaces at the beginning and end of each paragraph. In the Find field, type (without the quotation marks) "^p "—a caret, a p, and a space; in the Replace field, type just (without the quotation marks) "^p"—a caret and a p. Click Replace All. Then repeat this step using (without the quotation marks) " ^p"—a space, a caret, and a p.
  • You need to eliminate all manual line breaks that should be paragraph breaks. Note that if you've used some line breaks deliberately, you'll want to avoid using Replace All for this step (just search for the breaks one at a time and keep the ones you need). In the Find field, type (without the quotation marks) "^l"—a caret and an l. In the Replace field, type (without the quotation marks) "^p"—a caret and a p.
Are you ready for the exciting part?

Here's how to highlight those pesky dangling participles at the beginnings of your paragraphs:
  • In the Find field, type (without the quotation marks) "^13([A-Za-z]@ing>)[^32,^44]" (this tells Word to look for a paragraph break, followed by a series of letters, followed by ing at the end of a word, followed by a space or a comma; using the codes for space and comma isn't strictly necessary but prevents the search from turning up one-word sentences or hyphenated words that we're not interested in). Double- and triple-check this step to make sure the regular expression is exactly correct. Make sure you haven't used any spaces.
  • In the Replace field, type (without the quotation marks) "^&" (this tells Word that you'll be replacing what it found with... exactly what it found; omitting this bit will cause Word to crash or possibly delete every participle that occurs at the beginning of a paragraph, or perhaps your computer will implode). Make sure you haven't used any spaces.
  • With your cursor still in the Replace field, click Format and then click Highlight. If you can't see the Format button, just click the More button.
  • Now click the little box beside "Use wildcards" so there's a check in the box.
  • Hit Save one more time just to be extra, extra safe.
  • Click Replace All.
Bam! Every ing word at the beginning of a paragraph is highlighted. It's magical, isn't it?

If you see more than one highlight every page or so, you'll want to do some tweaking of your sentence structure.

Happy editing! :)

~ ~ ~
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January 09, 2014

Sullivan's Way by Wilhelmina Stolen

Let's celebrate the launch of historical novelist Wilhelmina Stolen's Sullivan's Way! Isn't the cover gorgeous?

Here's a little bit about the book and the author:

Available from 5 Prince Publishing
Genre: Fiction/Romance/Historical
Release Date: January 9, 2014
Digital ISBN 13: 978-1-939217-93-6   ISBN 10: 1-939217-93-8
Print ISBN 13: 978-1-939217-94-3     ISBN 10: 1-939217-94-6

A single day shattered her life and set in motion, events that  would change the Sullivan family for generations.

Marnie Joe Sullivan had the perfect life as the daughter of a wealthy Virginia businessman, but perfection wouldn't last. As the War Between the States ends, she is struggling to keep her family together. After a botched robbery, fleeing rebels leave her mother dead and Marnie at the mercy of a killer. The year is 1867 and Virginia is still home to Confederate conspirators and a killer that must be stopped. Loyalty and love run deep in the Sullivan family and Marnie is no exception. As the eldest Sullivan, she feels obligated to rescue her father from the hangman’s noose. But a jailbreak at midnight lands her in the arms of Marshal Mason Kane.

Death is never fair. Mason Kane is proof of that. The horror of war and the death of his brother made him a drunk. Consumed by guilt and grief, he finds himself occupying Richmond saloons and starting fights. But a forgotten promise to his brother forces him to put down the bottle and accept a friend’s plea for help. Mason has no idea that the scrawny, mud covered boy he just hit is Sullivan’s daughter and he has no idea just how tempting she is until he tries to mend her wounds. Bound by honor and promise, Mason sets out to find a killer. What he finds is the outlaw Marnie Sullivan. A woman he can’t live without and secrets that lie in the way.

About Wilhelmina Stolen:
Wilhelmina Stolen is the pseudonym for romance writer, Shannon Hayes. Shannon is a native of Kentucky and makes her home in a small southern town close to the Tennessee line. During her adolescence, her mother’s free-spirited nature became restless causing the family to embark on a slew of adventurous moves across the country. The moves provoked a hunger for adventure
and romance and introduced her to a wonderful world of history and beauty.

As with most writers, her stories began at an early age with long sessions of seclusion and secrecy. While her classmates and friends were outside playing, Shannon was locked away in her room hammering out ideas on an old 1940’s Royal typewriter.

After finding Mr. Right, Shannon found herself wanting the comfort and security of the small Kentucky town she longed to escape as a child. Fortune smiled upon her and she became the family historian; gathering pictures, wills, marriage certificates and everything else that somehow managed to fall into her lap. Stories flooded her mind and writing quickly became an
obsession that turned into the Way of Hearts Saga. The saga spans six generations and three families. 
Shannon holds an Associates in Applied Science in Technology, a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and Management as well as a Masters in Educational Leadership. Visit her author page at www.wilhelminastolen.com to learn more about the saga.

Public contact information:

Excerpt of Sullivan’s
2, 1868
Settlement, Virginia

Them Damned

Marnie Joe Sullivan, a well-bred woman
of Virginian wealth, sat at the head of her father's table. Despite her cool
exterior, she felt civility’s firm grip slip and a white-hot anger coil its way
up her spine. The beast threatened to burst forth in a rage of unladylike
vulgarities of which the gentlemen across from her would undoubtedly recoil and
offer a hideous clicking sound of disapproval from their forked tongues! No, that wouldn't do.
"Damn it Marnie! You can't
go!" The abrasive voice manifested itself from the older man sitting
across from her. He heaved one foot upward and slammed it against the smooth
cherry floor of the great room. The dull clap of the heavy boot vibrated
against the stone walls of the Sullivan house, "We have to wait for Lucas.
He'll be back anytime now." The stub from his missing first finger wiggled
uncontrollably as he ran his gnarled fingers over his thinning, silver hair,
creating a wild mess. The missing digit was Ike Ritchie's trophy for his
victorious fight in the Battle of Buena Vista in '47, "Your Pa was crazy
for going to Silver Creek!"
With an unwavering face of authority,
Marnie lifted her chin and leveled her gaze. A delicate blush of pink rushed
over both cheeks, "My Pa is not crazy! He's grieving." Her small
fingers anxiously examined the delicate embroidery of her handkerchief as her
eyes burned into Ike with disapproval. The midnight black of her silk dress
couldn't quench the green fire that raged in her eyes. Since her mother's
death, Marnie had adorned black in every sense of the word, her soul, her
spirit, and her will were all shaded black by that day, but not today. Today
was a day of action!
An indignant "humph" escaped
the edge of her full lips. As if being prompted by the sound, a petite black
woman stepped from the hall and stood with folded hands as they waited for
their guests to arrive, her slate stare burning relentlessly into Marnie. Yes, yes, I know, Tillie! Ladies always
remain calm!
As leaders from the settlement below entered the room one by
one, Marnie took a deep breath that generated a small look of understanding and
approval from the housekeeper.
Marnie's skin itched and burned from the
laces of her corset, causing her to shift in her seat. Thanks to Tillie's
diligent efforts, she was presentable. It infuriated Marnie to know that over
half the morning had been devoted to tying, lacing and buttoning her
unmentionables just so she might look presentable to the men in front of her.
In the time it had taken Tillie to carefully style her unruly blonde hair into
the neatly formed chignon, she could have been half-way to Silver Creek. This is ridiculous! I don't need their help!
Will Roark, Louis Porter, and Charlie Wilcox, represented only a handful of
families that homesteaded on her father's land. The men had taken council at
this house since Marnie had donned pigtails and played with dolls. They weren't
use to answering to anyone but her father, “Thank you all for coming on such
short notice.”
Will looked confused, “Marnie, I don’t know what we could possibly
do to help your Pa.”
Ike eased forward and rested his elbows
on the table, “Marnie thought you gentlemen might accompany us into Silver
Charlie frowned, “Why would we do that?”
“To help me break Papa from jail.”
Marnie said hopefully.
Her statement provoked a laugh from
Louis, “You want us to help you stage a jailbreak?” He glanced at the other
men, “Is she serious?”
“I don’t find anything funny about it.
It is possible.” Their snide smiles added to her frustration, “If we go in
after dark, there’ll be only one or two guards.”
“That’s insane!” Louis interjected.
“No, it’s not!” With her fists clinched
tightly at her side, she demanded an answer, "How can you sit there and do
nothing to save him?" Their silence infuriated her. They weren't taking
her father's capture seriously. "Papa's been rotting in that jail for
three days and God only knows how long Lucas will be gone!" It had been
two days since her adopted brother, Lucas, set out for Richmond to find her
Uncle, and Marnie’s confidence in the law and Maxwell Richardson was
diminishing, “I haven’t seen my Uncle Max in years. How can we be sure he’ll
even help Papa?”
“Maxwell won’t think twice about it.”
With a dismissive hand, Ike waved her fears aside, “Hell, it wouldn’t surprise
me if old Maxwell dynamited the jail himself to free your Pa!”
It was because of her
father’s selfish act that she sat like a plucked turkey, stitched and tied for
the presentation at hand. Her father, Daniel Sullivan never left anything to
coincidence. Why had he allowed himself to get caught by the law in Silver
Creek? Haven’t I dealt with enough
Less than a year ago her mother lay lifeless on the floor as
Marnie and her sister were ripped from their home and taken for ransom.
Tight lips controlled Marnie's words.
She lifted her chin and fought to steady her breathing. Back straight, shoulders square, you're a Sullivan, baby girl! Her
father's voice echoed in her mind and unconsciously her posture straightened.
Defiance rushed through her as the authority in her eyes demanded attention
from each man.
“We can’t wait! Are you going to help me
or not?” Marnie gave the table a single strike with her fist, "Someone
answer me! My father gave you a roof over your head, and never asked for
anything in return. Without his help, none of you would have anything. If Talon
Dougal hangs Papa, nothing will prevent him from taking the mountain and
everything around it!"
Louis adjusted his collar, "Marnie,
we're all concerned about your father, but he knew not to go. He was safe here.
He knew if he went to town he would risk getting caught."
"We could protect him here, but not
in Silver Creek. Hell! We could be hanged right along with him!" Will
shouted and Charlie nodded.
Ike agreed, “They’re right, Marnie.”
Twenty-five years ago, through dense
forests and jagged rocks, her father carved out a life for not only his family,
but for the families in the valley below. Now when he needed them, they cowered
in fear like children, "So it will be the same as before? He needed you
last year and you didn't lift a hand to help him. You all wanted to run and
hide." She tapped the table with a finger, discarding the truth for her
cause. The people around her father's table were loyal, but fear made her
"Now wait just a damn minute little
girl!" Her accusations brought Ike up out of his seat. In his younger day,
he’d been a boxer, broad in the shoulder and narrow at the hip. Legend of the
“Fists of Fury” spread through Texas like wildfire. Even now, his withered
frame towered above Marnie. When his expression changed, she braced herself,
"You seem to forget I was riding right alongside your Pa when them damned
Confederates took you girls, and I helped him bury your Ma!" He shifted
his weight from one leg to the other in agitation, "So don't you go
lecturing me about helping spring your Pa from jail!"
The outburst sent a silence over the
men. Ike shook his head, “I'm sorry Marnie. I know you miss your ma, but−"
Marnie watched him rub his furrowed face and produce a tender smile, "you
girls, feel like you was my own and I don't want to see ya get hurt." He
placed a hand on her shoulder, "We'll wait for Lucas." he instructed
Marnie's head shook feverishly, "We
can't wait. They could hang him at any time. Lucas might persuade the Governor
to intervene in the charges against Papa, but Talon is a coward. He won't wait
for a judge or jury." Marnie forced a wave of moving tears as she let out
an, "Oh!" and pushed the handkerchief against her nose. She sniffed
and dropped her head. Papa’s running out
of time!
Ike eased down in a chair beside her,
"Look Marnie, we can't just go into the jail and ask for the key. He's a
wanted criminal, they'll be guarding him close."
"I won't be moved by tears young
lady." Will interrupted Ike's careful words, "I'd give my life for
Daniel, but our actions have to be thought through. We wait."
The firmness of Will's words stilled her
tears. I knew it! They're not going to
help me.
Marnie refused to lose the fight. She calmed herself and raised
her head, "I'm sorry, you’re right." Her head nodded slightly in
agreement and then bent forward with humility, "I know without your
loyalty Papa would have been caught a long time ago, and Callie and I would
probably be dead." When she met Ike's concerned face, the storm in her
green eyes cleared, and a crafty smile eased its way onto her pouty lips,
"Forgive me." Her voice was soft, "I'm just scared.  I had to try."
Ike cocked one bushy eyebrow upward and
sighed, "Well girl, Lucas will be back from Richmond tomorrow."
A half an hour later Marnie walked the
last remaining man to the door. Ike shifted awkwardly and moved towards her.
When the others had gone, he called Marnie by her childhood name, "Joe, in
nineteen years I ain't never seen you give into a fight. I saw them green eyes
clear, and that means one thing. You're up to something!"

~ ~ ~
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