Hello! A good friend of mine is having a release day party for her new Christian Romance, Someone to Trust, on May 20th. I’ll be hosting at 1:30pm CST and doing a giveaway. Check out the party for plenty of games and giveaways, and to get to know some other clean romance authors.
We all like a reward, don’t we? But, not all rewards are what they appear. That’s the case in the latest installment of Rachel Rossano’s Theodoric Saga. Rachel created an intriguing Historical-like Christian Fantasy as she tells the tale of Jayne and Liam. Find out more and be sure to check out the giveaway!
Guest Post From Rachel Rossano:
One of the first responses I get from people when I say I write romance is that they personally don’t like reading romance. If they are referring to straight romance novels where the whole plot is about the relationship and nothing else, I would completely agree with them. I avoid those kinds of books too. No romance happens in a vacuum.
I am a firm believer in realistic romances. Yes, I know that sounds strange coming from a fantasy writer, but it is true. Although my settings are completely made up, with generous inspiration from history, and a bit fantastical at times, my characters are realistic. They are people, or at least I want my readers to believe they are. They work hard, struggle, and grow just as real people do. They have strong points and flaws, some more than others. That said, like real people, they don’t live in a vacuum where relationships with the opposite gender consume their lives and nothing else matters.
In my books, my characters live in their worlds. They have jobs, they have to feed themselves, and they struggle to secure their place in their world. When the other main character stumbles, falls, rides, or otherwise encounters them, the main character is almost never not looking for love or romance.
Realistic romance begins with friendship. I don’t believe in love at first sight, though I do believe in attraction at first sight. Stolen kisses, though they can be an interesting beginning to a book, should never be the basis of a relationship. The elements I advocate are friendship, interaction, and time (though, I have been known to skimp on that last one).
Also, logical and careful thought are necessary when choosing a mate, which also goes for my characters choosing their mate. Yes, warm embraces and spark-inducing touches are part of the magic of a romance, but the cold hard reality of asking yourself if the man/woman you are embracing is going to be there when times are tough is a necessity. Also, above all else, spiritual maturity is a must in any mate.
All that said, I must say that a good novel, romantic or otherwise, needs a large dose of both logic and reasoning as well as chemistry and magic. One without the other only gives half the picture when it comes to any relationship, romantic or otherwise, and only representing one half will make the whole will fall flat. Without the magic, the story will be cold. Without the rational, the story will be mushy. Balance is key.
About the Book
She couldn’t hide forever.
A hard life taught Jayne to avoid men, powerful men most of all. When a new nobleman arrives to take over the vargar, she takes her family and hides. But the new baron seeks her out and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: protection. However, once they were sheltered behind the dark stone walls of the vargar, who would protect her from the new master?
His reward isn’t what it seems.
King Ireic of Anavrea charges Liam, a former bodyguard, with the task of retaking and taming a corner of the northern wilds. Upon arrival at Ashwyn Vargar, Liam finds challenges beyond his military experience. The keys to the vargar are missing and so are the field hands who should be harvesting the fields. Once he finds the keeper of the keys, she raises more questions than answers.
About the Author
Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virtue set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.
Rachel is giving away one of her favorite CDs to listen to while she writes. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of music she likes to listen to, you can check out the CD on Amazon and then come back here and enter the giveaway. https://www.amazon.com/Piano-Guys/dp/B009EAO38C/
Bookish Orchestrations-Giveaway Winner
Who doesn’t like a birthday party? Faith certainly does. November 19th was the third birthday of her debut novel, A Mighty Fortress. To celebrate, she has all sorts of fun going on. First, she’s released a newly revised version of A Mighty Fortress. Second, she has most of her published books on sale. Third, she’s releasing the box set of all five of her novels for a special discounted price. And fourth, but not least, she now has the audiobook of her AMF available! Read on for more party fun and a special giveaway.
Joshua hazarded a glance behind him. He could no longer see Ruth and breathed a sigh of relief. In one swift move, he grabbed his rifle and lay flat to the ground. Extending the rifle, he aimed at the shorter man whose gun was pointed at Bradshaw.
Joshua and Ruth Brookings are traveling by stagecoach to finally join their parents in Montana. Attacked by murderous outlaws, the teens barely escape with their lives and must survive in the barren Wyoming and Montana territories and escape the man who’s hunting them.
Seven years ago, Jed Stuart ran away from home and joined Tom’s gang. Jed is tired of the lawlessness and wants out. The only problem? He is the boss’s right-hand man and will never be able to leave. And what’s one more stagecoach robbery, anyway?
Can Joshua lean on God’s strength to keep himself and his sister alive until they find a town? Will Jed be able to face his anger or will it consume him completely? All three are running–the hunter and hunted. What will happen when they meet?
Faith also just released her first box set, the complete Hymns of the West series. It’s available for a special discounted pre-order price until November 26th and will stay at that price until November 30th.
The Brookings family move from Illinois to Montana to start a horse ranch. Their journey to Montana has hazards of its own, as does their life in Castle City, affecting each of them in various ways.
The Stuarts have been living a secluded life in Tennessee since the matriarch of the family died. When Jed runs away, they seclude themselves even more until a letter arrives that changes their lives—one at a time—forever.
One family has believes in God with their whole hearts, living out their lives to the glory of God. The other family believes in God in a general sense, but they have no commitment toward Him or His ways.
One Providential God.
A stagecoach robbery instigates their meeting. Two years later, they meet again. Another year and their lives cross paths again. What happens when God’s providence brings two families with two different worldviews together in ways only He could have planned?
Every eBook in the Hymns of the West series is on sale. A Mighty Fortress is permafree, and the other eBooks in the series are $0.99. In addition, the spin-off novella series has a book on sale as well.
Life and Salvation: Hymns of the West Novellas 1-3
Faith also has the paperbacks on sale if you buy them from Createspace with the discount codes.
$2.00 off (8.99) with code: MBJB3XSY
$2.00 off (6.99) with code: GQ3KTJYY
$1.50 off (9.49) with code:93LQLRJ8
$2.00 off (11.99) with code: TJXAYXD2
$1.50 off (10.49) with code: 7626YZAK
$2.00 (6.99) with code: V4Y5K46D
Faith is offering three prizes!
- Audiobook of A Mighty Fortress (MP3 download)—Could be a short delay
- The Solid Rock Notebook
- Feather Quill Necklace
- eBook set of Hymns of the West: The Complete Series
Faith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. (The picture doesn’t show it well, but there are scribblings on the page of Green Eggs and Ham). Now that she has grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.
When she isn’t writing, Faith enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, playing piano, and playing games with her family. One of her dreams is to visit Castle City, Montana, someday to see the ghost town she chose for her characters to live in. She currently lives on a hobby farm with her family in Wisconsin.
There are many ways to connect with Faith online. All of them can be found in one convenient place: http://FaithBlum.com. On her website you can find links to her various social media sites and both of her blogs.
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction
Author Franky A Brown-Book Spotlight
Rachel Rossano Rambles-Guest Post
Writing Dreams-Author Interview
God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae-Character Spotlight-Joshua
Zerina Blossom’s Books-Author Interview
The Overactive Imagination-Review of Be Thou My Vision
Perpetual Indie Perspective-Book Spotlight
Frances Hoelsema– Book Spotlight
Thought of Anna S. Brie-Author Interview
With a Joyful Noise-Guest Post
Bookish Orchestrations-Candid Author Interview
Firethorn Blog-Author Spotlight
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Character Interview with Ruth
Ladies in Defiance-Guest Post
Once Upon an Ordinary– Author Interview
Written Rest-Character Spotlight -Anna
The Overactive Imagination-Review of A Mighty Fortress
Jaye L. Knight– Character Spotlight-Caleb
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Wrap-up and winner
Welcome to the blog tour for Marianne Sciucco’s new release, Swim Season. By the way, my name is in the book!
Sometimes winning is everything.
Champion swimmer Aerin Keane is ready to give up her dreams of college swimming and a shot at the Olympics. As she starts senior year in her third high school, Aerin’s determined to leave her family troubles behind and be like all the other girls at Two Rivers. She’s got a new image and a new attitude. She doesn’t want to win anymore. She’s swimming for fun, no longer the freak who wins every race, every title, only to find herself alone.
But when her desire to be just one of the girls collides with her desire to be the best Two Rivers has ever seen, will Aerin sacrifice her new friendships to break a longstanding school record that comes with a $50,000 scholarship?
Aunt Mags didn’t say a word on the way to the high school and neither did I. We were up and out too early for anything more than, “Got everything?” “Uh huh,” and “Let’s go.” We’d left the house before her first cup of coffee and she was not in a talkative mood.
It was just after dawn, the moon still visible as the sun peeked out over the horizon. A chill in the air hinted at summer’s end. I regretted leaving my sweatshirt behind, although after swim practice the sun would be shining and we’d be back to the mid-August heat.
We arrived at the school and a deserted parking lot. Mags parked her minivan at the athletics entrance.
“Are you sure it starts at 6:45?” she asked.
“Positive,” I said.
She yawned. “Looks like you’re the first one here.”
“I doubt it.”
Today was the first day of swim season. Tryouts started at 7 a.m. The coach had instructed all wannabe swimmers to be on the pool deck no later than 6:45. My experience as a varsity athlete told me that anyone with any degree of competitiveness had already arrived. I had five minutes to spare.
“Want me to walk in with you?” Mags asked.
My horror at her suggestion must have been all over my face, because she said, “Sorry. Having a teenager is new to me. My girls would beg me to walk them into that big, scary building.” We looked at the three-story hodgepodge put together to house Two Rivers High School.
“I can take it from here.” I was sure I’d remember the meandering route to the pool area from the tour we took when we registered for my senior year.
She still looked anxious. “Sure you’re all right?”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got this routine down pat.” Two Rivers would be my third high school. I played the role of new girl so well I deserved an Oscar.
I opened the door and hopped out. “Don’t hang around waiting for me to call for a ride home,” I said, reaching back to grab my bag. “I’m not sure when I’ll get out, and I don’t want to mess up your day. I’m okay to walk.”
Aunt Mags nodded, and I shut the door.
“Don’t forget we’re going back-to-school shopping later on,” she said through the open window.
“Go get ’em, Aerin.” She gave me a thumbs-up.
I shot her a grin, hoisted my bag over my shoulder, and went off to join the Two Rivers High School Girls Varsity Swim and Dive Team.
Minutes later, I stood on the pool deck with an odd blend of girls vying to earn a place on the team. I spotted the usual huddle of newbies benched together at the far end of the bleachers, glancing at each other nervously and at the seasoned swimmers with something like awe. On the opposite end were the members of last year’s championship team, all wearing team T-shirts and chatting like old pals, ignoring everyone else. In the middle was a bunch who looked like they wanted to go back to bed, the ones whose parents pushed them into a sport and who chose swimming because we did it indoors and it looked easy. Most of them wouldn’t make it.
I found a place to stand against the wall and blocked out the curious glances shot my way, using the time before practice began to check out my surroundings. Aunt Mags had said the natatorium, built just a few years ago, was state-of-the-art.
Banners hung from the rafters and on clean white walls, touting the team’s success, and an enormous leaderboard listed all of their champions and their accomplishments.
A wall of windows on the farthest side and a ceiling loaded with skylights filled the room with light.
The six-lane pool had blue and white flags and lane lines, and the Trailblazers logo – a torch – was laid out in blue tiles on the bottom.
The floor tiles were a mosaic of white and three shades of blue.
The air was thick with the smell of chlorine.
I checked my expression, not wanting anyone to catch me gaping over the finest natatorium of any team I’d joined. The thought of swimming in it, of calling it “home” for the next few months caused a thrill of excitement in my belly. Around me, the other girls talked and laughed, none of them seeming to appreciate the beauty of the pool and the privilege to use it.
“Good morning girls.” A man’s voice cut through the chatter, and each girl sat up at attention. “Let’s get started.”
The voice belonged to an older man, with bushy white hair and bifocals, dressed in the school’s colors: navy blue shorts and a white polo shirt. Coach Steven Dudash. I hadn’t met him yet – he was out of the building when my father and I visited the high school – but Maggie and her husband, Pat, gave him high praise. He’d coached the Two Rivers boys and girls swim teams for more than twenty years, and they were both winning teams.
He pulled a chair behind him, positioned it in front of the bleachers, sat down, and organized the pile of paperwork on his clipboard. “Good morning,” he said again, studying us over the rim of his bifocals. “I’m happy to see last year’s team back for another year. And welcome to those of you here for the first time. I’m glad you decided to give us a try.”
He took a swig from an extra tall cup of coffee before continuing. “For those of you new to the team, meet Coach Denise.” He gestured toward the young woman who accompanied him. “She’s my daughter. I coached her for six years when she swam for Two Rivers and got her name on the leaderboard.”
I checked out the leaderboard and saw she held the record in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke. Good creds.
“This is her second year as assistant coach,” he said. “She did a terrific job last year so I invited her back.”
The young blonde smiled at him and the swimmers cheered.
“Yay Coach D!” a few seniors shouted.
“It’s great to be back,” she said. “Ready to win another championship?”
The shouts and applause were deafening.
“During the next two weeks,” Coach said when the noise died down, “you’ll all be working hard, doing drills both in the pool and in the weight room, four hours a day, six days a week. During the season, you’ll be practicing from after school until five or six every weekday, and four hours on Saturday. Sunday is a resting day. And, of course, you will compete in swim meets at least twice a week. So, if you don’t think you can make it through the first two weeks, you might as well leave now.” He paused, waiting for anyone to opt out before we even got started. No one moved.
“Okay,” he continued. “Most of you know that Two Rivers won the Division Championship last year, and the two years before. I plan to win again. When we do, and I say when, not if, we will be the first team in the division to ever win four consecutive division titles.”
Last year’s team broke out in wild applause and cheers. Coach waited for the outburst to die down before he continued.
“I need performers,” he said, “swimmers who aren’t afraid to push themselves, to try new things and discover where they best support the team. So, in practice you’re all going to swim every stroke, you’re all going to swim distance, and you’re all going to swim sprints. Each person will do all she can to defend our title.”
Silence filled the pool deck as the girls looked each other over, wondering where each would fit in.
“That’s the good news.” He paused for effect. No worries. He had everyone’s riveted attention. “But I’ve got some bad news. For years, the school board has been supportive of our team, and we’ve reciprocated by working as serious athletes and turning in winning records. Most years, the team can support as many as thirty-eight swimmers. This year, due to a budget crisis in our school district, our funds have been cut, and I can only put twenty-eight girls on the team.”
Raised eyebrows and shocked inhalations followed this bit of news. I counted bodies: thirty-six.
“Yeah, eight of you will be cut, either at the end of this week or the end of next. Anyone want to leave now?”
Again, no one moved.
Coach Dudash smiled. “I like your level of commitment. Let’s see if you can keep it under pressure.”
He spent the next half hour reviewing team policies and the season’s schedule. I’d heard such talks before from other coaches and tuned him out while I studied the other girls, trying to figure out what their positions might be.
Most of them focused on Coach’s every word, but last year’s champs ignored him and whispered among themselves. One of them, a lanky girl with sun-bleached hair and a killer tan, looked over the group of wannabes and held up her fingers one to five, scoring them, I guess, on whether or not they had a chance. Her friends snickered, trying to act as if they were paying attention to Coach instead of fooling around.
At last, the lanky girl’s frosty blue eyes rested on me, and I met her gaze straight on. We stared at each other for a few seconds before she looked away first, then held up three fingers. It seemed she was ambivalent. I could go either way.
I was ambivalent too. I joined this crowd as a walk-on, someone with no history with the team and questionable ability. In their eyes, I was no better than a wannabe who needed to prove herself to gain a spot on the team and the other girls’ respect.
I showed up because it’s what I did at the start of every school year. Swimming was my only sport, and I was good at it. Really good. Still, I almost skipped tryouts today. The truth was, I didn’t have the energy to join a new team, in a new school, for the third time. If anyone found out I’d won championship titles in club and varsity last year they’d expect great things from me, and I didn’t want the pressure. Swimming was no longer the focus of my life. It was my therapy, and I wouldn’t let anyone mess that up.
The glimmer of challenge in the way the lanky girl looked at me caused a stirring in my gut, and I shot it down. I didn’t come here to get involved in any personal challenges. I came here to swim, and not make any waves. My plan was to get through the senior year and go away to college, away from my troubles, and on to a new life that I could control.
During swim season, you can find Marianne Sciucco, a dedicated Swim Mom for ten years, at one of many Skyline Conference swim meets, cheering for her daughter Allison and the Mount Saint Mary College Knights.
Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues.
Her debut novel Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller; IndieReader Approved; a BookWorks featured book; and a Library Journal Self-e Selection. She also has two short stories available on Kindle, Ino’s Love and Collection.
A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and when not writing works as a campus nurse at a community college.
Swim Season is currently only available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.
Emma is on tour today for a book blast! You can check out the other blogs involved for excerpts and guest posts. Many thanks to Hello Chick Lit for setting this up.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter One:
Is someone there? My bedroom is too dark. Who was that guy on TV that said a person needs to sleep in total darkness? If that person hears a noise in the middle of the night, it’s only that much creepier.
There it is again. My body goes cold as my hands grip my pillow in front of me.
Maybe something fell in the other room. That’s it. Or perhaps it’s that calico cat I found outside the building yesterday. It was chilly outside in the fall weather and I adopted him right away. He’s likely wandering around out there in the living room making strange noises.
Swinging over the side of the bed, my feet touch something furry before a loud “Meeebaooow!” makes me jump.
“Oh, sorry,” I whisper. Yikes. It’s not the cat making the sound out there. Where is my phone?
That sound again. I drop to the floor, shaking, too afraid to turn on the light. I crawl over to my dresser and feel around for my phone. Where is it? If I turn on the light, I could alert a crook that a single woman is here all alone. Weaponless and alone.
What am I doing? Is Emma Wallace a victim? Absolutely not. I am turning on the light and taking control.
The light comes on and that banging sound sends more chills up my spine. Slapping my hands over my mouth and nose, I look down at my sweatshirt and polka dot pajama pants and realize there is no way I look like a threat to anyone trying to rob me.
There’s my phone! My instinct to call 911 takes a back seat when I think about how someone could possibly murder me and rob me blind in the time it may take for the police to arrive.
I switch the light back off, though it’s probably too late.
Will. He has a gun. Plus he sure looks threatening when awakened at two in the morning. Yeah, I’ve done that before.
I ring his number, crouching next to my dresser in the dark. The noise grows louder and I leap into the closet and shut the door. Closets should have locking doors. I really should work that into the design for my next client.
Far too many rings later, Will’s groggy voice moans something unintelligible.
“Will? Will!” I whisper fiercely. “There’s someone in my apartment.”
“What?” His voice sounds more alert as fabric rustles in the background. “Where are you?”
“Hiding in my closet. Hurry!”
Scratching outside the closet door causes goose bumps up my arms till another “meow” lets me know it’s only my new cat.
I snatch him inside the dark closet as my front door slams open against the wall. Good heavens, did he break the doorstop?
“Who’s in here?” Will’s voice is the best sound in the world right now. The banging is still there as I hear the opening and slamming of doors.
Doesn’t he see the source of the banging? Is the crook closer to me than I realize?
What if he’s in my room? My heart slams in my chest and might fly out at any moment. Will I be shot dead in my own bedroom? Maybe even in this fabulously remodeled walk-in closet? My eyes water as I cling to my cat.
“I’m only twenty-six,” I whisper to the cat. “And you don’t even have a name yet.”
Where’s Will? The only thing I can hear is the muffled pounding in the other room. Did the intruder take him out?
“Emma?” The closet door opens and I scream. The cat leaps out, hair standing up straight.
“It’s me, Emma.” Will darts out of the path of the angry cat and then stands in front of me with concern all over his face. “Didn’t you hear me come in?”
He flips the safety on his gun and slips it into a holster clipped to his shorts.
“Oh my gosh.” Without another thought, I fly into his arms and squeeze him till he groans something about not being able to breathe. “The noise was still there and I didn’t hear your voice again. I thought this was it.”
The banging noise returns and I freeze. “You didn’t find the killer?”
“Come here.” He pulls back and takes my hand. I let go and hold on to his arm like a life preserver as he leads me out to the living room.
Stealing a kiss from Will Knight years ago ended in an embarrassment she didn’t want to repeat. But when a popular new designer in town starts taking her clients and has eyes on Will, too, Emma decides it’s time to fight for what she wants. The perfectly irritating designer she wants to shove into a hole isn’t the only one who can be down-to-earth and likeable. After all, Emma’s never failed at anything…except walking the line between friendship and love. Crossing it again could mean losing Will’s friendship for good.