Friday, August 30, 2013

The Secret Diary of Sarah Chamberlain

Today's special guest is Sarah Norkus. Sarah tells readers that writing is in her blood, literally. Her father was a writer and editor of the horse racing magazine, The Horseman and Fair World. And her cousin, Stephen Ambrose, wrote many historic military books, including Band of Brothers, which became a miniseries on HBO.

Getting a late start, Sarah didn’t pen her first book until she was forty-eight. “I was too busy globe-trotting with my army husband and raising two daughters.” But she is quickly making up for lost time with five manuscripts completed and three published books in the last eight years: the creative non-fiction, The Eleventh Summer, a general fiction, Until The Wind Changes, and a Christian historical fantasy, The Secret Diary Of Sarah Chamberlain. “I tend to be all over the map genre-wise, writing whatever sparks my imagination.”

Sarah is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the National Society Daughters of American Revolution, Toastmasters International and the American Red Cross.  She grew up in Lexington, KY, but now resides in Colonial Heights, VA with her retired military officer husband, Michael.


Fifteen year-old Emily Grace (Em) discovers a secret hiding place under a wooden plank in the attic of an old house in Petersburg owned by the Ladies Benevolent Society. It conceals a 150 year old diary belonging to Sarah Chamberlain, the previous owner of the house. Turning to the last entry, Em’s interest is piqued by the mention of the missing confederate gold and a murder mystery. She slips the diary into the pocket of her capris.

A week later, Em finishes the diary. Emotions well up inside her as she rereads the last page. The diary holds no clues to the location of the gold. But it is clear that Sarah believes that her husband, Robert, was murdered by the guards in charge of the Union prison where he was being held. Tears slide down Em’s cheeks as she thinks about the senseless murder of the man Sarah loved. She slips the diary back in her pocket planning to return it to the attic while helping her mother clean the old house in Petersburg.

 While scrubbing black scuffmarks off the kitchen floor in the Petersburg house, Em has an emotional meltdown. She shouts her list of grievances, including Robert’s murder, before God. Em ends her tirade by saying that since God has done nothing to help her or Sarah and she doesn’t believe he really exists. Almost immediately, she is overcome with vertigo and passes out.

 Slowly regaining consciousness, Em looks around in confusion. The kitchen has been replaced by a nineteenth century parlor...


Em struggled her way back to consciousness.  Moving her cheek on the floor, she puzzled at the sensation.  Linoleum was supposed to be smooth and hard, not soft.  She slowly opened her eyes and blinked at a table leg about a half an inch from her nose.  Wiggling on her belly away from the table leg, Em placed her hands flat and prepared to push herself up. Her eyes widened.  Her hands were on either side of a large, red rose embroidered into a rug.  She jerked in shock, banging her head on the bottom of a wooden table.

“Ouch,” Em said, rubbing the top of her head.

After scooting backward so she wouldn’t hit her head again, Em sat up and looked around the room. Gone were the sink and the shiny, new chrome faucets.  Gone, too, were the refrigerator and stove.  In fact, the whole kitchen had disappeared, along with the worn linoleum. “That’s no great loss; in fact, that’s the best part of this crazy dream I’m having,” Em thought. 

Em’s brows knitted together. She must be dreaming, although she couldn’t remember ever having the sensation of touch in a dream.  Her fingers rubbed across the pile of the rug.

On the ledge over the fireplace, which was no longer bricked in, sat a clock.  It ticked rhythmically and showed the time to be ten o’clock.  To the right of the fireplace was a beautiful needlepoint chair.  Two dark wood chairs faced each other, their cushions upholstered in a floral pattern.  One rested to the left of the fireplace, the other was next to the doorway.  Each chair had a walnut wooden table next to it, with an oil lamp on each.  Against the far wall was a settee, the cushion a slightly worn dusty rose.  The walls were painted a moss green.  The heavy drapes on the windows next to the fireplace matched the settee.  Chills ran down Em’s spine. It all looked so real.

Turning around to look behind her, Em saw the antique writing table that had been sent out to be restored. A small dark wooden chair perched between the drawers.  Trembling, Em pushed herself up off the floor on shaky legs.  She tentatively touched the smooth surface of the writing table.

“Mom!” Em screamed.

A door slammed and Em heard footsteps.

But instead of her mother, the biggest black man she had ever seen filled the doorway.  He wore a stained and faded white shirt and calf-length brown work pants.  His feet were bare and covered in dirt.  His short cropped hair looked like a gray Brillo pad. He held a long-handled, curved knife.  Em took a step backward, lost her balance, and fell, hitting her head on the mantle of the fireplace.  Pain exploded in her head. She crumpled to the floor.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Cadence of Gypsies

Today's special guest is Barbara Casey. Barbara is president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing adult fiction and nonfiction for authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, and Japan.  She is also the author of numerous articles, poems, and short stories.  Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including the Independent Publishers Book Award, the Dana Award for Best Novel, and the Publisher’s Best Seller Award.  Her novel, The House of Kane, released in 2008, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination, and her novel Just Like Family received special recognition by the 7-Eleven Corporation.  Two other novels, The Gospel According to Prissy (released in the spring of 2013) and Shyla’s Initiative, both received an IPPY Award for Best Book in Regional Fiction. Her most recent young/new adult book, The Cadence of Gypsies, has been selected as an Amazon Best Read.

In addition to being a frequent guest lecturer at universities and writers’ conferences, Ms. Casey served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003.


            Dara Roux, abandoned when she was 7 years old by her mother.  Exceptionally gifted in foreign languages. Orphan.
Mackenzie Yarborough, no record of her parents or where she was born. Exceptionally gifted in math and problem-solving. Orphan.
Jennifer Torres, both parents killed in an automobile accident when she was 16. Exceptionally gifted in music and art.  Orphan.

Three high-spirited 17 year olds, with intelligent quotients in the genius range, accompany their teacher and mentor, Carolina Lovel, to Frascati, Italy, a few weeks before they are to graduate from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women.  Carolina's purpose in planning the trip is to remove her gifted, creative students from the Wood Rose campus located in Raleigh, North Carolina, so they can't cause any more problems ("expressions of creativity") for the headmaster, faculty, and other students – which they do with regularity.  Carolina also wants to visit the Villa Mondragone where the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, was first discovered and search how it is related to a paper written in the same script she received on her 18th birthday when she was told that she was adopted – a search, more dangerous than she could have imagined, that will fill in all of the missing pieces of her past and help each of her students to discover something meaningful within themselves.

For more information about The Cadence of Gypsies, visit
Available from and selected for Amazon’s List of Best Reads.


It was always the older ones who felt the need to challenge the ancient gypsy traditions.  The children who weren't yet adults, but who felt they were old enough to thwart authority and desire independence.
"I want lots of gold," said Milosh who had recently turned 17 years old--a man in his opinion.  The oldest in the group, soon he would join the adults. "Teach me the spell to make me wealthy."
"You must be careful for what you wish, Milosh."  As always, the choovihni was patient with her young pupils.  "But I shall teach you the spell for attracting material goods."  She sat in the shade of the tall elm with her full skirt spread out around her and waited until everyone was quiet and settled before continuing.  "First, write down whatever it is you desire on a clean sheet of paper, then place the paper on a small square of green cloth.  You must concentrate on it for a few minutes.  That might be hard for you, Milosh," she teased.  The other students laughed.  They liked for Milosh to be put in his place.  Just because he was the son of the Bandoleer, it didn't make him better than everyone else--even though he acted like it.  And he played mean tricks on the younger ones who were too timid and afraid to say anything.  "Try to visualize the object before you--the shape, texture, color.  Feel pride in owning it, the pleasure you hope it will bring, what you will do with it."  She looked at each of her students, making sure they understood.  "Then hold the paper to your forehead and say three times:  'I have you, I hold you, I keep you.'
"Fold the paper into the green cloth and tie it with a length of red wool.  Tie seven knots into the wool and as you tie each knot, say, 'You are mine, I own you.'  Put the green cloth with the paper in a small box, and each day, for seven days, hold the box to your forehead and say three times, 'You are mine, I own you.'  After you have done this, put the box away in the back of a drawer."
"Will I have lots of gold if I do that?" Milosh asked.
"It will bring success to those who are patient and deserving," Lyuba answered.
For the next several hours, Lyuba taught the children other spells: the spell using the power of trees, a ritual to cleanse the aura of their individual spaces, the spell for strength.  When they got older, she would teach them the spells for attracting romance and for keeping a loyal lover.  For now, however, she would teach only those things that were appropriate and what they could understand.
When the day's lessons were complete, and the elm's shadow once again lengthened, the parents came for their children.  Concerned, Lyuba watched Milosh return to his hut alone.  His chakra, that point of light indicating the heart, was dark and brown rather than green as it should be.  Much was expected of the only son of the Bandoleer.  He held promise, but he had much to learn.  Unlike his father, he was impatient and quick to judge others.  His focus was on material things, and he ignored what was important.  There was also a darkness in his spirit; something that could be dangerous if not corrected.
He would go and prepare the paper, wrapped in green cloth and tied with a thread of red wool, and wish for much gold.  He had not understood. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

American Girl on Saturn

Today's special guest is Nikki Godwin. Nikki is a Young Adult/New Adult author from the southern USA. She is a city girl who can't live without Mountain Dew, black eyeliner, Hawthorne Heights, and candles from Bath & Body Works. When not writing, she's not-so-secretly internet-stalking her favorite bands. She may or may not completely love One Direction.


Title- American Girl on Saturn
By- Nikki Godwin
Publication Date- August 28, 2013

The summer after graduation is supposed to be that first real taste of freedom - but not for eighteen-year-old Chloe Branson. Just as that breeze of freedom is making its way into her galaxy, her secret-service-agent dad drops a meteor-sized bomb of bad news on her and her sisters. An attempt has been made on the lives of Canadian boyband, Spaceships Around Saturn, during their USA tour, and the guys have to go into hiding ASAP. The only problem? In the midst of the crisis and media frenzy, their dad volunteered to hide the their house.

Six-year-old Emery is as ecstatic as any self-proclaimed Saturnite would be, but Chloe and her seventeen-year-old sister Aralie watch their summer plans crash and burn like a falling star. The SAS guys aren't happy with the situation, either. Bad boy Jules picks fights with Aralie about everything from his Twitter followers to his laundry, and heart-throb Benji can't escape Emery's fangirlisms for more than three minutes.

But after the super-cute Milo kisses Chloe during a game of hide-and-seek, she finally understands what Emery means when she talks about SAS being "out of this world." If this is what Saturn feels like, Chloe doesn't want to come back to Earth.


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Monday, August 26, 2013

Beyond the Eyes

Today's special guest is Rebekkah Ford. Rebekkah grew up in a family that dealt with the paranormal. Her parents’ Charles and Geri Wilhelm were the directors of the UFO Investigator's League in Fairfield, Ohio, back in the 1970s. They also investigated ghost hauntings and Bigfoot sightings in addition to UFO’s. Growing up in this type of environment and having the passion for writing is what drove Rebekkah at an early age to write stories dealing with the paranormal. At one point in her life, she thought she wanted to be a journalist, and although she enjoyed writing articles, she quickly discovered her real passion was writing fiction. Her fascination with the paranormal is what led her to write the ‘Beyond the Eyes’ series. Visit her online and read her blog at


What were your favorite books as a child?

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

What are your favorite books as an adult? How has your taste in genre changed over the years?

Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice, 1984 by George Orwell, The Stand by Stephen King, All of the Harry Potter books by J.K Rowling, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.

My taste has gotten much darker.

How did you select the genre you write in?

It was easy. I'm fascinated with the paranormal world and know quite a bit about it, so I chose writing in that genre. I picked young adult because I love YA paranormal books, and I still feel like a teenager.

If your book was made into a movie, who would play the lead roles?

Unknown actors. Hopefully I'd get to pick them out.

What songs would be in the movie's soundtrack?

Good question. Whatever It Takes-by Lifehouse, I'm With You-by Avril Lavigne, Enter Sandman-by Metallica

What are you working on next?

Right now, I'm working with my editor on edits and rewrites to the third book in this trilogy (The Devil's Third). It's due out sometime this fall.

Book Info-
Title- Beyond the Eyes
Series-Beyond the Eyes Trilogy Book # 1
By-Rebekkah Ford
Publication Date- June 3, 2012
Genre-YA Paranormal Fantasy

“A thrilling, wholly satisfying first book to a new young adult series. It will keep you wanting more.” –Valentina Cano,  Carabosse’s Library
“Beyond the Eyes is haunting yet passionate. This breakout novel is quick and hip, a saucy must-read.”–Charles Land, Judas Pistol
Paige knows evil exists in this world, but she never imagined it would want something from her.
In the small town of Astoria, Oregon, surrounded by deep forest and endless mountains, another world thrives . . . a menacing one where dark spirits dwell in soulless humans. Seventeen-year-old Paige Reed lives in this lush, picturesque setting. She’s not your average teen, though she appears to be. Not only is she heartsick, but she’s been receiving cryptic premonitions from a ghostly voice since the age of four. After she hears a haunting message about herself, supernatural occurrences begin to confuse her.
Nathan Caswell seems to peer into Paige’s soul, evoking a magnetic energy between them they cannot deny. They’re connected. But he’s no ordinary guy. He tracks dark spirits and becomes alarmed when they set their sights on Paige.
When two power-hungry malevolent beings make demands on her, she realizes then the fate of mankind rest in her hands. Her world quickly turns inside out where the impossible becomes possible, and in the end she’s faced with a life changing decision that will not only alter her existence but the world as she knows it.
Can a deeply troubled teen overcome her own demons in order to fight those lurking about? With the past and present colliding, Paige must make the ultimate mortal choice. Will it be the right one?


Book Info-
Title- Dark Spirits
Series- Beyond the Eyes Trilogy Book # 2
By- Rebekkah Ford
Publication Date- February 23, 2013

Now immortal, Paige is emotionally and physically stronger than ever. She must find the location of the ancient incantations to prevent mass genocide. But the war against good and evil is spawning another war–a battle between the dark spirits themselves. Paige is saddled in the center of both growing revolutions and is ready to take on the dark forces. But Nathan’s overprotectiveness prevents her from taking action, and he’s hiding things.

Paige’s personal life gets more complicated when Brayden arrives back in town and offers the equal partnership she desperately craves from Nathan. Then there’s Carrie and Tree, her two best friends and only family she has left. Unfortunate circumstances thrust them into Paige’s dark world, giving her no choice but to allow Nathan to arm them with combat techniques in hope they’ll be able to protect themselves.

Meanwhile, Paige is having visions and discovering abilities she was unaware of. When Anwar comes to visit, his weird behavior alarms her. Could he be turning to the dark side?

Time is running out. Paige not only needs to find the incantations but also to untangle the bands around her heart and make a decision that could leave her with a life worse than death–a life of betrayal from the ones she trusted most.


Book Info-
Title-The Devil’s Third
Series- Beyond the Eyes Trilogy # 3
By-Rebekkah Ford
Expected Publication Date-

The Exciting Continuation Of The Beyond the Eyes Trilogy.
If you could have the power to control evil, would you want it?
In a rainy, misty town filled with moss covered trees and dwarfed by wooded mountains, Astoria, Oregon, holds many secrets and eighteen-year-old Paige Reed is one of them. She’s immortal, has magical abilities she’s discovering, and harbors King Solomon’s power inside her. With his incantations, she can control the dark spirits who lurk among society in soulless humans.
But her problems are mounting.
Her best friend slips into a coma, and Paige must tap into her newfound powers—powers she’s unsure of—to save her.
Through this ordeal, Bael who once commanded a legion of black souls, forces Paige to make a pact with him, causing her to abandon the ones she loves. When she finds out where Solomon’s spells are and tells Bael, she begins to have second thoughts about her agreement with him.
Will she risk everything to claim the spells that hold the power to control the dark spirits so she can enslave him? Or will her one true love find her before she makes a horrible mistake that could damage her for life?
And most importantly, what does the Devil’s third mean and what is Bael really up to?


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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Saint and Scholar

Today's special guest is Holley Trent. Holley will be joining us at Book 'Em North Carolina on Saturday, February 22, 2014. I hope you'll drop by and chat with her!

She calls herself a Hard-Wired Carolina Girl. In her own words, she says:

I spent about 25 of my [fill in the blank] years in North Carolina. I always tell people I wasn’t born there, but I belonged there. Actually, the maternal side of my family tree is deeply rooted in Eastern NC, and has been since, oh, The Lord Proprietors were handing out tracts of land.

My grandpa Frank was a Halifax County boy, and his wife Mary—one of the grandmothers whose lineage is celebrated in my penname—was born and raised in Chowan County. Chowan County is where I grew up, too, in a tiny, unincorporated community called Welch or Tyner, depending on who’s asking.

I believe there’s a such thing as genetic memory—where you know down to your cells where your people are from. That way you always know where to fly home to, if you listen in well enough. In the past couple of years, I’ve been even more convinced of the phenomenon because my husband and I uprooted our little family back in 2011 for a move to Colorado. We made a “Yeah, we should live while we’re young!” decision. Decided to be adventurous and stuff.

Well. Colorado sure is pretty. Lots of mountains and clear skies and fluffy white snow (I hate snow). But, I’ve never been more keenly aware of my place on this big spinning rock than when we moved to the wrong part of it.

Some people call this off-center feeling “homesickness,” but I think that’s an entirely different dysfunction. Homesickness can be cured with care packages and the occasional plane ticket, and over time, the feeling may abate altogether. This thing I feel, and that I feel everywhere I go that’s not haunted by familiar ghosts, is more like I’ve been uprooted and replanted into soil I’m not meant to thrive in.

I’m making the most of my time in this not-so-wild West. Of all the romances I’ve written since the move, all but one was set at least in part in North Carolina. If I can’t be there, at least I can tell people about it. I can go home whenever I’m in front of my keyboard. Unfortunately, my imagination doesn’t provide me with barbecue sandwiches and Lance honey buns.


Grant Fennell seems to lack the luck of the Irish. He’s had his nose broken three times, his dissertation advisor was a useless lump, he’s thirty-one and finishing his PhD, and he can’t find a teaching position in the US. Then he accepts a job in his native Ireland on the same day the stunning former student he’s been intrigued by for nearly eight years shows a shred of interest. Finally, he catches a break: Carla Gill needs his expertise.

Carla is at a dead end on her late Irish-American father’s family tree project. Who better to assist than an expert on Irish history? But when Carla accompanies Grant to Ireland to conduct her research, he makes it clear he wants to put her on the fast track to matrimony. The professor wants to teach her something about “happily ever after.” Does she really want her happy ending to start right now?


“Hey, give me your phone.”


He held out his hand. “Your phone. I’m supposed to already know your phone number since you’re my girlfriend.”

She arched one eyebrow up into a question mark. “I’m sorry?”

“It’s a long story. Suffice it to say it has to do with those loudmouths at the bar and the chick who’s squawking at them.” He held out his hand.

She studied his face and upon finding he looked absolutely mortified, gave him the device.

He punched some information into her contacts list while occasionally glancing back over his shoulder to watch the mounting fracas. “Here. That’s my stuff. Come over in the morning and I’ll help you with your project. I live at Hillside.”

“Um…okay.” She studied the screen. Grant Fennell.

“And one other thing.” He bent down and put his lips next to her ear. “Listen, I hate to drag you into this craziness, but I have to do this.”

“Do what?”

When his gaze darted over to the bar yet again, she followed it with her own. The tall woman had stopped yelling at the bouncer and Grant’s friends. Now she was glowering at Grant.

She suddenly understood. “You want me to pretend we’re…together?” Hardly an inconvenience.

“It’ll either make things worse or better. I’d certainly feel better.”

How could she refuse? She laced her fingers through his hair so the tips met at the crown, and pulled his face down toward hers. His green eyes closed as their noses touched, then there was the press of lips. It wouldn’t have taken much to make it look like a good show from a distance, but she wanted to put everything she had into that kiss. She needed to redeem herself with it. She needed redemption for being so damned clumsy and awkward, for not remembering his last name and for the fact that once he walked away, she would probably be too cowardly to call him.

She wound her tongue around his, searching his mouth, emboldened by his moan and the tightening of his fingers around her thighs.

The noise at the bar escalated. When she drew back, she wasn’t finished; she could’ve sucked on his lips all evening.

He drew back panting. “That was like a going-off-to-war kiss. I’m not going to die, love. Might go to jail tonight is all.”

Love. A careless use of a pet name and she was smitten. And when he dragged pad of his thumb over her cheek, spontaneous human combustion suddenly seemed like a feasible phenomenon.

With one last smoldering smile, he straightened up and moved with graceful ease through the tables to his friends.

She felt a tinge of arousal watching his agile form skirt away, thinking of how strong and forceful his tongue was, but quickly drowned it with the remnants of Sharon’s Long Island Iced Tea.


Saint and Scholar, a contemporary romance published by Lyrical Press, is available for purchase as an e-book at Amazon (, Barnes and Noble (, and other major vendors, including Overdrive for libraries.

Learn more about Holley Trent’s books and upcoming projects at Like her Facebook fan page at or follow @holleytrent on Twitter for random bon mots and book-related news.