On Conversations: #author Cathleen Dunn

Please welcome author Cathleen Dunn to Conversations today! Cathleen's here to talk about the first installment in The Witches Trilogy: Chimera. So be sure and check out the blurb, cover, and excerpt below, and she has a great interview for us too!

Lisa ~

The Witches Trilogy: Chimera

" ...extraordinary debut novel...move over Stephenie Meyer, there's a new girl in town!"   -Reader, Ann S.

Olivia's a witch who is not enjoying her fabulous life. She's got friends, family, polo matches, private jets... and an evil witch named Dantin with a psychotic crush on her. He hates that Olivia won't love him back and he's hell-bent on destroying everything she cares about, just to punish her. Adding to Dantin's malevolence is his familiar. It can possess and control any witch, and no one is safe until they are stopped.

But the icing on of all this? Olivia can't use her powers to fight Dantin or his familiar, or she'll turn evil herself. She'll need every bit of craft and trickery she knows to get everyone out of this alive. Because if she can't, things will get far worse.
"Just when you think you've seen everything, something new comes along, and Cathleen Dunn has certainly brought that!   Chimera creates an unusual world of magic... Do not miss it." -Lee Witt, author of Become Unstoppable

Purchase The Witches Trilogy: Chimera on Amazon

Excerpt from The Witches Trilogy: Chimera

It took her a moment to remember where she was. Through sleepy eyes Taylor looked at the bronze silk comforter and complementary mounds of pillows around her. Overhead a gauzy canopy draped over corner bedposts, spilling down the carved wood to pool at the floor. Antique furniture, sleek lucite lighting, and an eclectic mix of items appointed this lush bedroom. Everything glowed from the sun backlighting the silk drapes. Never in her life had she been in a place like this. Now she lay on the soft bed, looking up at the translucent canopy, amazed that this was her room.

The rich smell of coffee came to her from downstairs and she got up to follow it, finding Olivia sitting at the kitchen counter with company. The woman under the soft brown curls smiled at Taylor.

“Good morning. I’m JaneAnne.”

Taylor looked at Olivia. “Is…” She trailed off.

“Yes – she’s a witch, too. You can talk in front of her. Here, have some coffee and a scone and we’ll get started.” She pushed an artisan bag across the counter along with a cup.

JaneAnne was more measured. “Olivia, give the girl a minute; she just woke up.”

“I let her sleep until ten-thirty. Why wait?” Then she shrugged. “Okay.”

JaneAnn turned to Taylor to talk but she was already answering Olivia. “I don’t mind getting started right away. I want to.”

“See? She’s ready.”

“Fine.” JaneAnn sighed. “Well, obviously you can tell Liv and I have been friends a while.”

Olivia continued, “Eidolon should be here soon, too.”

“Who’s Eidolon?”

“He’s Olivia’s familiar.”

Taylor looked down at the greys lying on their beds. “Another greyhound? Or a cat?”

Olivia answered. “No, those are just old stories. A familiar is a spirit, a chimera. They live in the logos, where all magic exists. They can look like an animal or possess one, but they usually don’t.”

“And they do a witch’s bidding?”

JaneAnn shook her head. “That old story’s wrong, too. They’re more a partner or a friend, but they have their own lives. Speaking of…” She pointed beside Taylor, where a plume of plum smoke was taking form. It slipped around Taylor where she sat on the kitchen stool and she gasped her shock, then gingerly touched the haze and was astounded.

“I can feel it! I can tell he’s there!” The mist was soothing, friendly and she could hear him saying hellos inside her head. He was warm, masculine.

“Eidolon likes this form. It’s closer to his natural state.” Olivia explained.

Taylor was delighted. “He’s wonderful.”

 “Well, not all of them are so friendly.”

“What do you mean?”

“Some will try and possess a witch, take them against their will.”

Taylor was wide eyed. “Why?”

“We have mortal bodies that can feel, taste, touch, hear, see colors. And we have emotions, too. Sensations like ours are a huge experience for chimeras. They want to know how it feels, so some try and take it.”

“What do I do if that happens?” She had a draining feeling.

“I’ll teach you protection spells and you’ve got to learn discipline. Always be on guard.”

JaneAnn stepped in. “Liv, you’re going to scare her.”

“She should be scared. Well, reasonably scared.”

JaneAnn tried to soothe the discussion. “Taylor, it’s like driving on the freeway; just be scared enough to make you pay attention and be careful. That’s all.” She watched Taylor relax a little.

Olivia went on. “So you’ll need protectors while you’re learning. Daphne and Chloe will be your guardians until you can take care of yourself. Ladies, we’re ready for you now.” She put a hand on Taylor’s arm to move her back. “Don’t be surprised.”

“At what?” But then Taylor jumped as two columns of flame burst into the breakfast nook, then instantly disappeared. Slowly they returned, undulating, and Taylor realized they had human form. Luminous, beautifully sculpted, female form. They were Aphrodites made of white-hot embers.

“Who are they?” Taylor’s eyes were wide. The two figures calmly regarded her through glowing eyes.

“They’re Will-O-Wisps. Have you heard of those?” asked Olivia.

“The flickering lights people would see in marshes at night – people used to think they were spirits. Sometimes they would follow the lights and get lost or drown.”

“Very good.” The closest one answered Taylor, a velvety smooth voice with a hint of the flame that waved across the lips. “In fact, the Sea Sirens are our cousins. Plenty of sailors followed them beneath the water.”

“But the Japanese understand us better. They call us kitsune kami, or fox-spirit.” The other picked up the thread in the same velvety voice. “Guardians.”

“I’m Daphne,” the first one said.

“Chloe. Nice to meet you, Taylor.” She wafted just above the floor, and Taylor saw that her thighs tailed down into softly curving flame.

Olivia regarded them, pleased. “Just like a chimera, they live out in the logos and are entirely magic. And they’re practically undetectable until they flare. Then they disappear instantly so they’re hard to track. Perfect guardians against chimera – and most other things.”

“You might not see us…”

“…but we’ll always be around at first...” Chloe stepped in.

“…until you can handle yourself,” Daphne finished.

Olivia was all business. “So the sooner we do this, the sooner you can start learning.” She leaned forward and put her hand on Taylor’s cheekbone, looking into her eyes. Immediately Taylor’s world collapsed into blackness, followed a millisecond later by an explosion of sensation. The room around her became intense and prismatic – colors were extent, appearing to have far more depth than she’d ever seen before. Inanimate objects looked as if alive and had a sort of extra dimensionality to them, and every noise was pinpoint clear. Taylor gaped at the room. It was as if she had lived all her life without really seeing what was there. The room became translucent and an amazing pastiche was superimposed on it. She heard layers of voices. Shadowy figures moved around her, outlined in a kind of glowing energy. A few looked at her curiously as they went about their business, but most didn’t notice, as if she didn’t exist in their world. Most surprising was the radiance everything had, glimmering and flowing through everything, including her, and it crackled around her with a rosy glow. She could feel it course through her, vibrating her like a string on a violin.

“I had no idea. It's so beautiful, and the colors are so intense!” She was enthralled. “And Olivia…I can feel it.”

JaneAnn nodded. “It is something, isn’t it? That’s the logos flowing through you, what you’ll tap into for magic.” She loved this part.

Olivia took her hand away. “You’ll get used to it, but you really need to work on self-discipline so it doesn’t distract you.” Taylor was still staring around her, a neonate discovering the world anew.

“Taylor! Did you hear me?”

JaneAnn threw back her head and laughed, a warm throaty sound that descended like musical notes and Taylor could tell it was genuine. A tinkling symphony of sound in Taylor’s newly enhanced perception.

“Oh, Olivia, leave her alone for a while and let her enjoy it. She’s got Eidolon and Daphne and Chloe with her.”

Interview with Cathleen Dunn 

Q: Tell us about your book - and how do you say the name?
A: This is the first book in "The Witches Trilogy", pronounced "Chimera" - like "Guy-Mere-Uh". And you can find it by searching "The Witches Trilogy" or author Cathleen Dunn as well.

The main character is a witch named Olivia Phalen. She's a light witch – they can only do good with their powers. In return they can have almost anything; live lavishly, travel, be famous...anything. Olivia's got friends that she loves and a new apprentice named Taylor. But Olivia also has an enemy - a powerful dark witch named Dantin who loves tormenting Olivia. He stalks her constantly and is continually hurting her friends. He even killed her last apprentice.

Q: Why is he doing that?
A: Because Olivia rejected Dantin. He wanted her badly - he still desires her, in fact - but she said "no" to him. Dantin's pretty twisted and vicious, and when Olivia didn't want him they way he wanted her, it hurt him, then that hurt turned to rage. He keeps tormenting her because he still wants her and can't have her, so it never ends. He's so vengeful and spiteful that he kills what she loves so she can't have any happiness either. And now, Olivia's got a new apprentice and for sure Dantin will come after her, too.

Q: Olivia's got friends who are witches, too, right? Why don't they all just gang up on Dantin and take him out?
A: Because they're light witches. They can't. They can only do good with their powers. If they hurt or harm, then they'll turn dark themselves and become violent and psychotic like Dantin.

Q: Why is this book called "Chimera"? What is that?
A: A chimera is a spirit, or a mirage, or a combination of two creatures. In my books, chimeras are spirits that are a witch’s familiar. They live in the magical realm and can protect or guide a witch in the magical world. They can be good, or they can be really evil, like Dantin's. And a chimera can possess and control a witch if they can get inside one. Dantin and his chimera make a really formidable, horrible pair.

Q: Sounds like a pretty dark ride.
A: Well, some of it is, but there's also the magic, too. And Olivia's gang is rich, and I mean crazy wealthy. Almost every person I talked to when I started to write these books said, "Oh, yeah, make them rich. Why do sorcerers and witches all live such ordinary lifestyles? If I had magical powers, I'd live a rock-star life."
Plus, writing about the wealth and the magic is so much fun. For example, Olivia rescued Taylor, her new apprentice, from a trashy, abusive home. Suddenly she's living with Olivia in her mansion and going to a witches gathering in Houston on Olivia's private jet. I absolutely loved writing Taylor's first experience in that jet; how she looked around the
cabin at all the beautiful polished wood and sparkling halogen lights, and felt pampered and unreal doing the flight. Six months earlier her stepfather was beating and raping her, and now she's learning magic and has a jet almost all to herself.
I really like taking the luxury and the light aspects of the setting and mashing it against the dark that Dantin and his chimera bring. Evil is evil no matter what wrapping it comes in.

Q: You've lived a lot of places; why set the story in Seattle?
A: Seattle is both creepy and beautiful - a contrast of dark and sparkle. In the winter it's dark 14 hours out of every day (Yes, really! The sun rises around 8am and sets close to 4pm in December and January!), and let's not forget about the rain and grey skies because of all the clouds in the winter. But the rain makes things wet and they glisten - especially at night. If you look at an aerial picture of Seattle's downtown on a dark rainy night, you can almost see what I try to capture when I write, the sleek and the otherworld in one place. You could imagine lots of magic hanging in the air, or paranormal creatures lurking about.
In Seattle there are lots of unusual places that are good settings for scenes. When I worked for Seattle Opera, we were exposed to a lot of artists that were very creative, and had to live on a non-profit salary, so we found unusual entertainment on a dime. For instance, going to a cheap basement club where volunteers had painted colorful murals on the walls and pink plastic flamingoes adorned the bar, or we’d take books and a picnic to a tiny park in Ravenna on the 4th of July. So many hidden treasures in Seattle. Juxtapose that with the high-tech, high-gloss, high-rise office buildings and the parks nestled into the hills and neighborhoods and there's no end to the possibilities.

Q: You have a full-time job; when do you find time to write?
A: Some people can write a couple hours every day, but I can't switch from my day job where I have to be logical and sensible to my fantasy world very easily, so I write on Saturday and Sunday, and maybe an occasional Friday or Monday for ten to thirteen hours a day. I just stay in my world and write a bunch of pages and then go back to work during the week. My characters are never far away though; I think about them constantly and formulate the next weekend's work in the back of my head while at my day job.

Q: When do you find time for your family?
A: Oh! They get my complete attention every weeknight (or at least four nights a week). I don't do anything else but pay attention to them. Well, the dogs are easy; they can lay on my feet even when I'm writing, so I make sure to clear my calendar weeknights for .

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Ever since I was little I loved superstition and ghost stories and magic. I remember getting a book of superstitions from the library and thinking about them all the way to school when I was in first grade. Things like: "If you see the full moon through the trees it is considered bad luck", or "if you walk through a spot of cold air, you have just
walked through a ghost", or "never let a broom touch your head; it is bad luck". I also see stories in music; the feeling a particular song gives me might start a story there. For example, my niece gave me a CD by "Evanescence" - their "Fallen" album - and while listening to it I started to see Olivia and her problems, and how she was feeling about being hounded and isolated by what had happened in her past. Interestingly enough, her decision on how to handle Dantin came off a "Transformers" album. Go figure.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?
A: Almost anything, but I especially love harpsichord concertos from the Baroque era, and rock. Some of my favorite bands are Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Godhead, Nickelback, Rammstein, AC/DC, a little Alice Cooper, Evanescence, and almost anything from the Eighties. I also love big band - Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, the Andrews Sisters, almost anything from the Thirties and Forties.

Q: Anything else?
A: Just a huge THANK YOU to everyone who loves to read and to everyone who has stopped by my website and fb, or bought my book. I love reading, too, and I love writing about our witches and am busy writing the second volume in The Witches Trilogy, titled Blue/Black and scheduled to come out in 2014.

Q: Where do we find you?
A: You can find The Witches Trilogy: Chimera on Amazon.com, and you can find me on Twitter @Cathleen_Dunn, and my website, Cathleen Dunn.com and Cathleen Dunn’s Facebook Author page.

Thank you!

Author Cathleen Dunn has lived in Seattle for the last 20 years after growing up all over the United States. She's lived in Texas, California, Kansas, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, and truly likes variety: she attended college both in Washington and Arizona, has a day job at an engineering company, loves rescuing greyhounds, has been onstage with Seattle Opera, has been known to paint faux finishes and murals inside homes for her friends, occasionally goes hunting and fishing with her husband, watches way too many old movies and educational television, and listens to both Baroque and Metal music.

Cathleen is the author of The Witches Trilogy series of full-length novels. She published the first installment, Chimera, in November of 2013 and is currently writing the second novel, Blue/Black, set for release in 2014. She sets her stories here in Seattle, where the dark and rain create the witches' stories in her head. She just writes them down.


Dakota Hearts Series - Book 1

She needed to risk the truth to get a second chance...

Poppy Erickson had spent the year wondering how all their lives might have been different after hearing the deathbed confession of her childhood friend. She'd left South Dakota years ago because she couldn't bear to watch the man she loved loving another woman. But now she knows the truth. She'll keep the promise she made to a friend, but will Logan understand when he learns the truth? More important, can they again recapture the passion that had been between them all those years ago?

He needed to face the past to get the love of a woman he thought he'd lost…

Everyone knows that the Dakotas didn't get the name Badlands for nothing. Harsh weather and rough living are a way of life. But single dad, Logan McKinnon, had seen more than his share of bad times after the death of his wife a year ago. The last thing he needs is Poppy Erickson, an old flame and his late wife's best friend, showing up unannounced to help after devastating floods nearly washed away their hometown. With no place to stay in town, he has no choice but to offer her a bed at his house.

But can he live under the same roof with a woman he'd once loved passionately without feeling he's betraying his late wife? 

Genre: Contemporary romance
ISBN: 978-1-9405-12-006

Word Count:  37,000 words
Cover Artist: Purple Girl Design

Amazon / BN / Smashwords / iTunes / Kobo


Excerpt from Her Dakota Man:

    One look on Logan McKinnon’s face told Poppy that his foul mood had very little to do with the devastating destruction all around the Badlands of South Dakota…and everything to do with her showing up in town after nearly ten years.
     She didn’t have to be standing next to him to feel his anger simmering just below the surface of his composure. Sitting in her rental sedan was close enough. What the hell was she thinking coming back home? Why had she made that ridiculous promise to Kelly?
     She parked the car next to his truck and took a deep breath, mumbling under her breath as she pulled the door handle, “This may just turn out to be the stupidest thing you have ever done, girl.”
     Truth was, even as pissed off as Logan looked, he was still an amazing sight to see. Part of her had hoped that she was wrong. That she’d gotten over him a long time ago. That she’d take one look at him, make sure he and Keith were okay, and be able to get back in her car and drive right to the airport in Rapids City.
     He turned to her, standing tall and proud. His thick dark hair blew in the March wind, fluttering around his face and making him all the more strikingly handsome.
     Yep. Stupid.
     He was taller than she’d remembered, and he’d long since lost that too-lean teenage body that had driven her crazy in her youth. He worked hard on his ranch and it showed in how much his arms and chest had filled with muscles.
     Despite the cold, he’d taken off his jacket while he worked in the yard and Poppy had a clear view of just how much his male body had filled out in places she’d dreamed of touching.
     Lord, help her. She was in trouble. And she hadn’t even stepped out of the car yet. She pushed the door open and stepped outside to get it over with. It was either going to be the shortest visit on record…or the life changing experience she’d been dreaming of ever since she was a teenager.
     “Hi, Logan.”
     Logan starred at her for a long, agonizing moment. She read the emotional tug of war playing on his face as the sudden chill from the South Dakota winds bit into her exposed skin like a whipping.
     Then his expression turned hard. “What are you doing here?”
     He must have heard the car drive up. But Logan’s four-year-old son, Keith, remained so focused on the mud puddle he was poking a stick into to even notice anyone was around. That was good. The next few minutes would go easier for both of them if Keith weren’t aware of the tension.
     Logan stared at her as if he’d been startled. Or maybe too focused on making sure his son was safely playing nearby to notice her car had driven up.
     Or perhaps he’d been too pre-occupied with assessing the damage the recent angry South Dakota weather had done to his property. Poppy had seen just how Mother Nature had shown no mercy to her childhood town as she drove from the airport to the ranch. She couldn’t exactly blame Logan for being in a foul mood because of that.
     Seeing her was just the icing on the cake.
     “What the hell are you doing here, Poppy?” he repeated.
     She took in a deep breath, smelled the muddy earth and decay all around her, and said, “I came to help.”
     He took one long look at her, from her high-heeled boots, up the length of her legs, pausing at her hips. She could almost feel his eyes as if he were staring at the flesh beneath her fresh pair of blue jeans. When his gaze finally reached her face again, she slid her sunglasses to the tip of her nose and stared right back at him in challenge. A slow smile played on her lips. She could never last as long at this as Logan before caving into laughter. But she knew Logan was in no laughing mood.
     “Poppy Ericksen. Rudolph was practically washed off the map from all that rain we had. After all this time, what makes you think I need anything from you?”
     Even though his voice was even, she could tell he was still pissed. But he’d never show it. Keith was still poking at the mud and puddles on the driveway just a little ways away, completely unaware of present company.
     “What’s the matter, Logan? You don’t look happy to see me,” Poppy said, pulling her sunglasses off her face with a wary smile.

On Conversations: #romance #author Donna Fasano

Please welcome USA Today Bestselling author Donna Fasano! Donna's here to talk about her novel, Reclaim My Heart. So be sure and check out the blurb and cover below, and she has a great interview for us too!

Lisa ~

Reclaim My Heart

Sixteen years ago, Tyne Whitlock cut all ties to her past and left town under the shameful shadow of a teenage pregnancy. Now her fifteen-year-old son is in trouble with the law and she is desperate for help. But reaching out to high-powered attorney Lucas Silver Hawk will tear open the heart-wrenching past in ways Tyne never imagined.

Forced to return to the Delaware Indian community where Lucas was raised, Tyne and Lucas are tempted by the heated passion that consumed them as teens. Tyne rediscovers all the reasons she found this man irresistible, but there are scandalous secrets waiting to be revealed, disgraceful choices made in the past that cannot be denied. Love is a powerful force that could heal them both—if the truth doesn't rip them apart.

Amazon paperback / Kindle / Amazon Audible / UK Kindle / Amazon UK paperback

Why I Write Romance Novels by Donna Fasano

I can’t tell you how many times over the course of my 20-plus year career as a published romance author I have been asked, “When are you going to write a real book? You know, a [insert genre of choice: mystery, historical, thriller, etc].” So I’d like to take this opportunity to tell readers why I write romance novels.

I suffered a lot of tragedy while I was growing up, the worst of which was the death of my mother just as I was entering my teens. I felt as though I went from 13 to 35 overnight, and when my friends were off having fun, I was cooking and cleaning and helping my little brother with his homework. Romance novels were an escape for me. The Wolf and the Dove, The Far Pavilions, Whitney My Love, Rebecca, The Thorne Birds… if the book featured one man and one woman falling in love, I read it! Romance novels offered me hope for a happy future filled with love (hokey, maybe, but I was a na├»ve teen). As a young wife and mother, I discovered Silhouette Romance Novels. These books were short and sweet and uplifting. Each and every story put a smile on my face, and the happily-ever-after endings always boosted my spirits. Are romance novels real? No. Does every real-life relationship end in HEA? Of course not. But if I wanted doom and gloom, I’d watch the evening news.

As an author, I can’t think of a better way to use my talent than to bring pure enjoyment to my readers. I tell people that I write cotton candy for the mind. Think about that. When you were a kid and you put a small cloud of that wispy confection on your tongue, what did you do? You smiled. And maybe you even laughed. That’s the reaction I’m going for with my short, upbeat stories. That’s why I write romance novels. So if you’re looking to get lost for a few hours in a fun, cheery story, I hope you’ll try one of my books.

Interview with Donna Fasona

What attracted you to writing in the first place?

I came to writing from my love of reading. While growing up, I lost myself in books in order to escape an unhappy childhood.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Romance. I wrote for Harlequin for 20 years, writing sweet romance (as Donna Clayton) and women's fiction (under my own name). I have self-published some of my books. The Merry-Go-Round was my first indie-published book. Reclaim My Heart is my very first Montlake publication. I am proud and excited to have been picked up by such a prestigious publisher.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? 

I think authors who face a lot of pain and anguish seem to write stories with great depth, with honesty and compassion. It could be that dealing with trauma brings out the best (or worst) in people. I believe that losing my mother at such a young age had a huge impact on me not just as a writer but as a human being. I became, I don't know, more maternal towards my family, my friends, heck, towards everyone I meet... more giving of myself, I guess you could say. My mother's death could have made me bitter and angry. I'm just so grateful that the exact opposite seems to describe me.

Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?

My mind is always on the alert. The writer in me is inspired by everything I see, hear, read, and experience. I have been known to take a snippet of conversation overheard in an elevator and turn it into a book (Return of the Runaway Bride), or from a location (His Wife for a While), or from a person I met (Taking Love in Stride). So be careful! If you interact with me, you might end up in one of my novels.

What’s your favorite place in the entire world?

I have visited so many beautiful places. The South of France, the rolling mountains of Italy, the Mediterranean Sea, the cobbled streets of Brussels, the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, beautiful Morro Bay, California, and I spend lots of time in Ocean City, Maryland. I obviously can't pick a favorite. Besides, there are so many places waiting to be seen!

What was your favorite part of this book to write? Which part was the hardest?

I really enjoyed writing the love scenes. In my sweet romances, all the 'spice' takes place behind closed doors. So this was very fun. And which part was hardest? The "kitchen love scene" (naughty pun intended!).

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? 

I wanted to be a teacher. My aunt attended college and earned her teaching degree. I always idolized her. I've dedicated Reclaim My Heart to my Aunt Dot.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

Elementary school teacher. I love children, and I often include them in my stories. I always say that children are very innocent and outspoken. Kids inject a great deal of fun into a book with their in-your-face honesty.

If you could live inside the world of a book, which book would you choose?

Pride and Prejudice. Love that Mr. Darcy!

Give your fans three fun facts that they may not already know about you.

  1. I love to cook! (I often post recipes on my blog.)
  2. My reading tastes are crazy-eclectic. I read anything and everything.
  3. I'm a little on the chubby side.
Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?

Depends. If we're talking ice cream, then vanilla… and I love mine topped with sliced banana and warm caramel sauce. If we're talking cake, then chocolate, and don't forget the fudge frosting. If we're talking milkshakes, then strawberry. Wow, now I'm hungry.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

I put my heart and soul into Reclaim My Heart, and I think it shows… in the story but especially in the characters.

So what’s next for you as an author? Any last words?

I'm thinking of writing a book that revolves around three friends in different stages of marriage, but I'm not sure yet. I've worked very hard on Reclaim My Heart and I'm going to take a few days off. Then I'll get back to work!

I want to thank Lisa for hosting me, and I want to thank her followers for taking the time to read about Reclaim My Heart.

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Donna Fasano is a three time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, and a Golden Heart finalist. Her books have sold nearly 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 10 List, the Nook Top 10 List, and the iBooks Top 10 List.
What others are saying about Donna's books:

"...complex, funny, and realistic..." ~Wilmington News Journal

"Excellent!" ~Bookreview.com

"Could not help myself from reading excerpts to my husband and friends. This book is well written, the characters are real, everyday folks. It is very easy to identify with them. Donna Fasano is a talented author." ~Elizabeth M. Caldwell on Amazon

"...a fast paced riotous look at family life today. Donna Fasano is right on target!" ~Donna Zapf, SingleTitles.com

Look for Donna on:
Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/DonnaFasanoAuthor

On Conversations: #bestselling #author Maryann Miller

Please join me in welcoming author and scriptwriter, Maryann Miller! Maryann is here to talk about her contemporary romance novel, Play It Again, Sam. So be sure and check out the blurb, cover, except, and her special commentary below!

Lisa ~
Play It Again, Sam

Life as she knows it ceases to exist for Samantha Rutgers when her husband of twenty-plus years decides he no longer loves her. The challenges are myriad. Can she build a life without him? Will her daughter always blame her? Can she ever trust a man again?  And what is she going to do about sex?

A contemporary romance with a touch of mainstream that reflects an all too pervasive situation women find themselves in.

Amazon / Nook / Kobo / Uncial Press

Picking Up the Pieces by Maryann Miller

After a painful divorce a woman is looking for someone she can trust, but for some that is particularly difficult because they trusted the men they were married to, only to be dumped without warning. That is what happened to my friend, Pat, who inspired the central character in Play it Again, Sam. Like Sam, Pat had no clue that there was a problem in her marriage until her husband came home one day to tell her he didn’t love her any more. Just like that. Boom.

What a devastating blow.

Unfortunately, that is a blow that too many people experience. Shortly after the book was first released, I started hearing from readers who said they could relate to Sam, and they were happy to see a story that reflected their reality. They shared how hard it was for them to enter into another relationship and commit completely to it, much like it was for Sam.

For women of a certain age who have spent the bulk of their lives raising a family and supporting a husband on his career path, being cast adrift can be most frightening. In her story, Sam had always been John’s wife or the mother of the children, and she never felt like she could stand independent of them or their assistance in life matters. In the process of dealing with all the aftermath of the divorce, she comes to understand that she has to be Sam first and have the confidence to handle any situation. In essence, she has to rebuild an entire life.

So, one of the messages in the story is the importance of attaining a sense of self and self-worth separate from a relationship, which means not rushing into a new commitment, no matter how tempting the offer.

The other message is the importance of hope and love. It took many years, but my friend Pat, finally met someone who has brought much love into her life. She just never stopped looking for the right man.

Readers will be pleased to know that it didn't take nearly that long for Sam to find the right man. This is a romance novel, after all. It had to have a happy ending.

The following excerpt is from when Sam first meets Frank.

Excerpt from Play It Again, Sam

     Returning to the foyer, Sam saw a tall, silver-haired man looking at a night-shot of the Dallas skyline on one of the walls. “May I help you?” she asked.
     He turned and her gaze was met by eyes as blue as the summer sky. “I have an appointment with Greg.” He stepped forward and offered a hand. “Frank Reynolds.”
      She let her hand be swallowed in his and returned the smile. “Samantha Rutgers.”
      His hand lingered and she pulled out of the contact reluctantly. “I’ll see if he’s ready. Why don’t you have a seat?”
      “I’d rather admire the scenery.”
     Sam glanced over her shoulder to see him watching her. Why that little flirt. He hadn’t seemed like a ‘Bill’ kind of guy, but maybe her instincts were failing her again.
     She walked back to the large workroom where Greg hunched over a computer with Max. “Mr. Reynolds is here.”
     Greg pulled himself upright, stretching in what Sam assumed was an effort to ease the kinks in his back. He looked at her, then back to the screen. “Keep him happy for just a bit. We’ve got to get this to the printer ASAP.”
     She walked back, hoping she was wrong about Mr. Reynolds. She didn’t want to deal with another oversized ego. “Greg will be out in a few minutes,” she said. “Maybe you’d like to take a seat now?”
     “Hope my remark didn’t offend,” Frank said. “Can’t keep up with what’s acceptable anymore. But you have to understand my perspective. Owen was sitting out here a lot after the other receptionist left,” he paused, a smile playing with his full lips. “You’re a definite improvement.”
     When Sam was able to tear her eyes from that smile, she met his gaze. Amusement was tinged with sincerity, and she realized this man was nothing like Bill.
     Still maintaining eye contact, Frank walked over and folded his lanky frame into one of the leather chairs.
     Sam smiled. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”
     “Not if it would be sexist to say ‘yes.’”
     “It would be sexist for you to ask. Not to accept.”
      “In that case, I’d love a cup.”
      She felt a rush of heat and turned quickly before she embarrassed herself. Get a grip, girl. He’s a client. She poured coffee into a mug and took a deep breath to steady herself. Okay. You can do this. Be professional.

About the Author:

Maryann Miller is a best-selling author of books, screenplays and stage plays. She started writing as a child and dreamed of fame and fortune. She's still dreaming. However, she is thrilled at the attention that her books have received. In addition to her romance novel, Maryann has several mysteries published, including the Seasons Series, featuring two women homicide detectives in Dallas. Publisher's Weekly has given the first two books in the series rave reviews. Stay up to date with Maryann Miller on her website: www.maryannwrites.com.

On Conversations: #author February Grace

Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to author, February Grace! February is here to talk about her latest novel, Of Stardust. So be sure and check out the blurb, cover, and except below!

Lisa ~

Of Stardust

http://www.amazon.com/Of-Stardust-ebook/dp/B00GACFFKW/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1383174682&sr=1-3&keywords=february+grace “Dreams are sacred…”

At the age of twenty-six single, geeky bookseller Till Nesbitt inherits the shock of a lifetime: a huge Victorian farmhouse filled with unique tenants, and the knowledge that there is a reason she’s always been different. She’s destined to become a Fairy Godmother, because the skills are written into her DNA.

Till embarks on her fairy education at Dreams Come True University with much trepidation, guided on her journey by a unique mentor: a Celtic hybrid with a secret by the name of Gus.

When Till falls head over heels for Gus, will she break the most serious law in the Fairy Code, or will the truth of what really happened to Gus’s parents keep them from repeating history?

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Excerpt from Of Stardust 

Till and Aunt Tilda settled into another room full of books and trinkets. This one also contained something Till had never really seen much around her parents’ house: family photo albums.

Aunt Tilda handed her one of them. She casually flipped through it, as her great aunt did the same with another. “Why don’t I recognize any of the people in these?”

“Because they were gone long before your parents’ time, my dear. As I said before, when you get to be three hundred years old, you’ve outlived almost everyone you’ve ever loved.”

More of this, Till thought.

“Just another distinction between us and the humans,” Aunt Tilda mused softly, almost to herself. “We were once immortal. Then more and more they broke the rules, got involved with the humans, and produced children with scrambled up DNA, like you and me. It’s a recessive gene, you know— it only shows up every so many generations in the families that carry it. The last time it showed up, was me. There has never been another, until you.”

“The… humans?” Till’s head swam. “You speak of humans as if they’re something you and I are not. If we’re not that, could you explain to me exactly what you think we are then?”

“Fairy Godmothers, dear.” She said it casually, without ceremony.

Till slid down the wall and sat on the floor. “I’m sorry, but did you just say…”

Aunt Tilda sighed. “What I am about to tell you won’t be easy to accept, Till. I can only hope that in the days ahead that you will be able to come to terms with what it all means. I hope it will bring you some comfort, finally understanding why it is that you’ve always been different,” she explained. “I’m a Fairy Godmother, Till, and so are you. Well, not quite yet... but the process has already started, and your adult traits are beginning to show up. Things you may have worried weren’t normal about yourself… like the insomnia. All easily explained, because they are all a part of who you are meant to become.”

Till laughed out loud. “You mean, like in Cinderella... that kind of Fairy Godmother?”

“Well, we tend to dress a little more stylishly and have better hair, but yes, like that.” She saw how troubled Till was by this revelation. “Are you all right, dear?”

“Am I… am I all right?” Till exclaimed. “She tells me I’m some sort of fairy human hybrid and then she asks me if I’m all right?” She scrambled to her feet and started for the door. “Aunt Tilda, I don’t mean any disrespect, but you are sincerely freaking me out right now, and I think I need to take a walk.”

“But we’ve so much work to do, and not much time left.”

“I know, I know... you keep telling me that.”

“There’s a package from the lawyer that you need to look at. I’ve taken care of everything already, but you need to—”

“I really need some air... I’m sorry.” Till dashed for the nearest door, which happened to be the one to the back porch, and ran outside without her coat.

It was snowing, coming down in a flurry that made it difficult to see the sky. She fought to catch her breath, tilting her head up toward the faded image of the sun as it tried to break through heavy clouds. It only succeeded in sending down a few thin, bright shafts.

She felt sick, and yet something about what the old woman was saying did not feel crazy to her anymore. That part was beginning to worry her more than anything else.

“I’m losing my mind,” she whispered. “That’s it. It’s lack of sleep. I’m going crazy. She’s senile, and I’m psychotic.”

“She’s anything but senile, lass... and y’er not as crazy as ye might think.”

Till spun and saw a man standing behind her with a broom in hand— prepared, it appeared, to brush away the dusting of fresh snow that covered the sidewalk.

“Pardon me?”

“I said, Tilda’s many things, but she’s not crazy. Neither are ye.”

His accent threw her for a moment. She was tempted to ask about it, but forced herself to ignore how charming it was.
“Oh? And you know this how? You don’t even know who I am.”

“Y’er her great-niece, the one she’s been talkin’ about for months now. The one she’s been waitin’ on so she can finally rest.”

A shiver coursed through Till and she began to shake. She hugged her arms around her middle as she analyzed this stranger in greater detail. He had shaggy dark hair and a scruff of beard upon his chin. He also had remarkably blue eyes, just as Lane did.

Just as Great Aunt Tilda did.

Just as Till herself did.

Wait a minute…

She opened her mouth to speak, but stopped. Still, the question formed in her mind.

Is he a... a...?

He smiled at her gently as he swept the walk a few times, then leaned against the broom. “I am, in fact. Only they don’t call me a Godmother. Wish they’d come up with a better term than Godfather though, makes me sound like I’m runnin’ a crime family er somethin’.”

Till swooned.

A pair of strong arms closed swiftly around her as the young man dropped his broom and caught her as she fell.

He carried her back into the house, placing her gently in the nearest chair. “We’re all in the ‘family business’ as it were, Till,” he said, as she began to come around. “That’s how it works. We have to stick together, because without each other, the world would eat us alive.”

About the Author:

February Grace is a writer, artist, and poet who lives in Southeastern Michigan. She sings on key, plays by ear, and is more than mildly obsessed with colors, clocks, and meteor showers.

You can stay up to date with February by visiting her at http://februarywriter.blogspot.com/ on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FebruaryGrace and Twitter @FebruaryGrace

On Conversations: #author Mary M. Forbes

Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to Mary M. Forbes, writer of fiction romance, historical, and contemporary and inspirational stories. Mary's here to talk about her contemporary romance - set in the little known Canadian 'New West' - One Dance With a Stranger. So be sure and check out the blurb, cover, and short except below!

Lisa ~

One Dance With a Stranger

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H558LCC/?tag=crlaofsu-20“If you have to choose between security or love, what would you choose?…

Emily feels it is important to hide her sordid past. Love has no part in her new life. Her job and her respectable fiance are achievements that she has no intentions of jeopardizing. Why would she even think of risking everything to follow her heart’s desire – charismatic, fickle Wade Hart?

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Excerpt from One Dance With a Stranger

     “Just don’t talk anymore and sing either. Just dance…” Emily felt his sultry voice in her chest, slipping lower. Her ears were buzzing.  “I think I’m going to start screaming.”
     “I can’t believe you’re not enjoying this, my little playboy bunny.  Your body sure says you do.” His voice revealed her darkest secret so easily. “I saw your picture every day for many years, darlin’ – sitting in my prison cell.”  Wade shifted slightly to look down into her strained face.

About Mary M. Forbes:

Love of fairy-tales, romance and westerns created much of Who I Am.

From reading my mother’s romance stories or my father’s westerns to playing cowboys and Indians in the isolated prairies of Northern Saskatchewan I followed my dad’s advice – I could be anything I wanted. When I was too old to play like a ‘wild Indian’ I could still create my beloved cowboys and romance by writing about their lives.


On Conversations: #bestselling #novelist Ciji Ware

Please welcome New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Ciji Ware. Ciji's here to talk about her latest contemporary romance novel, That Autumn in Edinburgh. So be sure and check out the blurb and cover below, and she has a great interview for us too!

Lisa ~

That Autumn in Edinburgh

Dateline: 250 years later…a contemporary, stand-alone sequel to Ware's historical novel Island of the Swans.

Can memories of a tragic, eighteenth century love triangle be passed down through a descendant’s DNA?

A compelling, almost mystical attraction draws American designer Fiona Fraser into the force field of visiting Scotsman, Alexander Maxwell, through an eerie happenstance one steamy summer’s day in New York City.

When Fiona’s mercurial boss dispatches her to Edinburgh to create a Scottish Home Furnishings Collection, the chemistry deepens as she and Alex discover their ancestral bonds to the star-crossed lovers Thomas Fraser—the “Lost Lieutenant”—and Jane Maxwell, the flamboyant 4th Duchess of Gordon who died in 1812.

From the cobbled streets of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to the tartan and cashmere mills of the Scottish border country, the modern lovers grapple with the imminent threat of financial ruin to their respective firms, along with ancient wounds echoing down through time—and a heartbreaking mystery, hidden for more than two centuries, that will dictate their own destinies…

Includes a Readers Group Discussion Guide

“A deep, complex novel exploring love, betrayal, healing, and renewal in the human heart.” —Affaire de Coeur

“…[A] story so fascinating that it should come with a warning—do not start unless you want to be up all night!”—Romantic Times 

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An Interview with Ciji Ware

Your newest novel is a stand-alone, contemporary spin-off of your best known 18th c historical, and begins 250 years after the first novel ends.  How did that evolve?

The idea for many a novel comes from asking the question “what if?” In the case of That Autumn in Edinburgh, the question “What if humans possess a genetic memory sequence in their DNA that echoes throughout their lives?" And further: And "What if the specific memories of a tragic, eighteenth century love triangle were passed down through a descendant's DNA?”

These questions were quickly followed by another, prompted by a novel, Island of the Swans, that I wrote twenty-five years ago: “Whatever happened— after the book ended— to the historical 4th Duchess of Gordon and her lover, who came to be known as ‘The Lost Lieutenant?’”

The “Whatever happened to Jane and Thomas?” question has been asked of me for years by readers the world over. Eventually, all these queries came together when I decided to reveal what I’d known about those star-crossed lovers all along, but as a storyteller, had made the editorial decision to end Island of the Swans at a point in the lives of these historical figures when they achieved what they yearned for: to live together as if they were man and wife—if only for a summer.

Sadly, their true-to-life end was too tragic for a reader to bear who had followed the saga of these characters’ lives fn the original novel for nearly 600 pages, and so I ended the story at a moment when they could (finally) be together—but with an uncertain future. This conclusion was akin to the ending of Gone with the Wind when Rhett Butler walks out of Scarlett O’Hara’s life and everyone wondered, “Will they ever get back together?”  I figured the best way to reveal the genuine end of the story of Jane and Thomas was through the lens of modern day descendants trying, as so many of us do, to "find our roots."

So the main characters in your new novel are the descendants--many generations down the line--of Jane Maxwell and the "Lost Lieutenant" Thomas Fraser?
Yes, exactly! Readers do not need to have read the original historical to understand and enjoy the new book.  What I did was create a sort of "Dateline:  250 years later, we find Alex and Fiona …"  The hero of That Autumn in Edinburgh, Alexander Maxwell, is a fictional, male descendant of the Jane Maxwell, the 4th Duchess of Gordon (who died in 1812) . The heroine of the new book is Fiona Fraser, an American, fictional, female descendant of the "Lost Lieutenant" Thomas Fraser, the duchess's star-crossed lover in Island of the Swans.  Answering these questions turned out to be a marvelous adventure, since the lore in my family--perpetuated by my great grandmother, Elfie McCullough (whom I knew and who lived to be 97)--was the claim that we McCulloughs descended from Jane Maxwell “back in the mists of time.” After years of research, I could never prove that fact beyond a reasonable doubt, but the journey introduced me to my Scottish-American heritage and greatly informed that earlier novel, as well as That Autumn in Edinburgh.

And what were the modern themes in the new book that you felt were important to portray?

I wanted to bring to life modern-day Scotland with all its beauty and complexity and weave truth and imagination into a believable whole so that the reader is swept away by the romance of it all, but still is exposed to the way the inheritors of this rich culture must grapple with modern-day problems and challenges.  In the new book, a compelling, almost mystical attraction draws American designer Fiona Fraser into the force field of visiting Scotsman, Alexander Maxwell, through an eerie happenstance one steamy summer's day in New York City. When Fiona's mercurial boss dispatches her to Edinburgh to create a Scottish Home Furnishing Collection, the chemistry deepens as she and Alex discover their ancestral bonds to the star-crossed lovers of centuries past.  The modern lovers grapple with the imminent threat of financial ruin to Alex's tartan mill and Fiona's family furniture manufacturing firm in North Carolina--all based on true-to-life crises that are actually facing these kinds of enterprises from the threats from slave labor operations in the Far East that undercut their products with cheap imitations.

Then, this is the weaving of "fact with fiction" you mentioned earlier?
I was a print and on-air journalist for more than twenty years and bring a particular skill-set to the way I research and write a novel, and those "best practices" really helped me in doing this particular novel.  I learned a lot about the weaving of tartan and plaid, and how home design goes from an idea in a designer's head to a product on the shelf of Bed, Bath & Beyond!

In a sense the book is “the story of the story” --isn't it?  You use the modern characters to trace the life of an historical figure and the great, lost love of her life?

All the scenes of Alex and Fiona seeking an understanding of their ancestors’ lives after 1797 and until the deaths of Jane and Thomas are based on my own research into documents that go far in establishing what really happened to the pair in their later years.  In the process, the modern lovers discover ancient wounds echoing down through time in the form of family issues in their current lives and come fact-to-face with a heartbreaking mystery, hidden for more than two centuries, that will dictate their own destinies.  In fact, at one point, Alex says, "This is becoming a love story of the ages," and to me, it is!

Don't you think we all wonder how much of our ancestors is "in" us?

Exactly right, and that's what drives this story.  I think this novel speaks to all of us who wonder about the ways in which those who came before us create--or at least subtly influence-- our own realities today?  I hope readers find themselves thinking about their own family trees as a result of "journeying"to Scotland--old and new--on the  coattails of Alex and Fiona ...whom I grew to love very much!

Ciji Ware is the daughter, niece, and grand-daughter of writers, so authoring novels is just part of the "Ware family business" An Emmy-award winning television producer, on-air broadcaster, print and online journalist, she has published two nonfiction works and eight novels, several that are national bestsellers.  Her fiction has won the Dorothy Parker Award of Excellence, a Golden Quill, and Best Biographical HIstorical Novel Award from Romantic Times magazine. Her most recent historical novel, A Race to Splendor, was short-listed for the prestigious WILLA (Cather) Literary Award in 2012. A graduate of Harvard University in history, Ware is the first woman graduate of Harvard College to serve as president of the Harvard Alumni Association/Worldwide. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

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