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  1. I'm pleased to welcome Heather Gray back to my blog today. Heather is here to tell us about her latest book, Redemption, the third in the Ladies of Larkspur series.




    Back Cover Blurb:

    Murder, mayhem, marriage, and a horse named Mutiny…


    Minnie's impulsiveness has been getting her into trouble her whole life.  She never expected it to land her on a suspect list for murder, though.  With nothing left but a few trunks of possessions and her own defeat, Minnie leaves San Francisco behind and returns home.  In an effort to protect her family and friends, she keeps them in the dark about the ongoing investigation and the possibility that danger may have followed her to Larkspur.  When events force her to trust someone with her secrets, she turns to the sheriff and finds both a friend and an ally.

    It may have been four years since he last saw Minnie, but how could he ever forget her?  When Art finds her sneaking through a back alley in town, he knows something's wrong.  The once vivacious Minnie is a mere shadow of her former self, all sparkle gone from her eyes. Art knows that time spent with her will be dangerous to his heart, but he can't turn Minnie away.  Even if it means protecting her from her own impetuous decisions, he vows to keep her safe.

    In her attempt to take responsibility for her own choices, Minnie shut out her friends, family, and God.  An unsolved murder isn't all that's chasing Minnie, though.  Will she find her way back to the heart of her faith before it's too late?


    August 1882

    Minnie needed to get home quickly. It was imperative. William would be displeased if she was away too long. He was not kind when angry.

    She rushed around the corner only to be stopped by the familiar sight of police gathered outside the tenement building where she and William rented a room. Given the area they lived in, seeing police was a matter of course. The sheer number of officers present, though, was anything but routine.

    At the time she’d married him, Minnie had expected to have a grand life with her husband. She was but the daughter of a small-town mayor, but William, why he was a gifted and recognized journalist. Her dreams of that happy life of travel, investigation, and collaboration had evaporated within their first month of marriage. The wonderful man who had courted her, caressed her with silver-tongued words, and danced into her heart had disappeared.

    He'd left in his place a man who was bitter and angry because she, while the daughter of a politician, had no wealth to her name, no grand dowry to finance the illicit habits he had kept from her during their brief courtship. She'd had to adjust to a life far removed from her dreams, a life where the only thing more common than police at their building was the stench of squalor in the air.

    Minnie hurried through the gathering of policemen and rushed up the stairs, hoping that William would still be asleep and wouldn't realize she'd been out. As she approached their room, she saw an officer standing in the hallway by the already-open door to the small space she shared with her husband. "Pardon me, ma'am," the officer said, "are you Mrs. Drake?"

    Nodding, she craned her neck to see around the officer. He tried to block her view, but she caught a peek inside. A strangled gasp escaped her lips. With strength out of place in her small frame, she shoved past the policeman and dashed into their quarters. Her husband of not quite three years, William Drake, lay in a pool of blood, almost unrecognizable. His corpse lay there beaten – nay, bludgeoned – to death. His lifeless eyes stared off into the distance. "W-what happened?" she asked, her voice hoarse.

    "Mrs. Drake." The man speaking wore his somber expression as comfortably as he wore his suit – both were threadbare from too much use. "I need to ask where you've been these past two hours."

    Trying desperately to pull her eyes away from her husband's corpse, she fought to speak. "An errand." The words felt as if they were being pulled from her throat. "I had an errand to run."

    "Where, Mrs. Drake?"

    About a year into their marriage, William had stopped pursuing his journalism career. He was always either deep in his cups or giving up their every possession at the gaming tables. Going to work had become necessary, but she wasn't sure how she felt about exposing that part of her life to the man in the suit, a virtual stranger. It had been easy enough to step into Will's shoes and take over his position at the newspaper. She did her writing in secret, and everything was published under the name Will Drake, the byline her husband had used.

    Minnie didn't know how to explain her job to these men without feeling the shame and embarrassment of having to admit both facts – that her husband was a sluggard who'd forced his wife to support him and that most of San Francisco believed her to be a man. Little encouragement was to be found in the stern faces of the officers, and she began to question whether either claim would be believable.

    Looking into the eyes of the suited man, she saw something dreadful. Minnie lifted her hand to her throat in foreboding. "You suspect me, then, in my husband's death." It wasn't a question. She could see the truth of it on the detective's face.

    "Answer the question, Mrs. Drake. Where have you been?"

    "Everywhere but where I should have been, it would seem," she said softly.


    Author Bio:

    Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order Man, Just Dessert, and Redemption.  Other titles include Ten Million Reasons, His Saving Grace, and Nowhere for Christmas – everything from Regency England to modern-day America.  Aside from a long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys are her relationships with her Savior and family.  She decided years ago that she'd rather laugh than yell.  This theme is prevalent in her writing where, through the highs and lows of life, her characters find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.


    Buy Links:


    Barnes & Noble





    Where to Find Me:

    My Website – http://www.heathergraywriting.com

    My Blog – http://www.heathergraywriting.com/blog

    Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/heathergraywriting

    Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+Heathergraywritingnow

    Twitter – http://twitter.com/LaughDreamWrite

    Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/LaughDreamWrite


     Thanks for dropping by  again, Heather. The book sounds fantastic.


    One writing rule often quoted is to write about what you know. Whilst I don’t think this has  to be strictly adhered too - providing you research your subject properly I think you can write about most things - but it’s a good starting point.  It can be especially useful when writing a children’s story, because you’ve been a child.

    Gary and Robin

    (Me as a child, with my two brothers)


    Of course, the world has changed since our childhood. Children now live in a world of technology, they dress, speak and play differently to how we did. But I don’t think their feelings and fears have changed that much, and that’s what I’m suggesting you tap into. Most of us can remember how frustrating it feels to be smaller than everyone else, to not be able to reach the door handle or get our toys off the top shelf. We know how scary the first day at school is, the first date, the first kiss. We know how it feels to be bullied, left out, not fit in because most of us experienced this as a child.

    So before you start to write a children’s story, cast your mind back to how it feels to be a child. A good way to do this is to sit quietly, with a notebook and pen, and think of a vivid memory from your childhood. It could be when a baby brother or sister was born, losing your favourite toy, your first day at school, an argument with your best friend, the crush you had on a lad in your class. Whatever memory you choose think about how you felt back then. Then freewrite the memory from the point of view of you, the child. This should help you find your ‘inner child’ voice and help you write your story from the child’s point of view. But when writing your story, do remember to use a modern setting and write in the language children use today.


    My book Get Writing: Children’s Fiction is full of hints, tips and writing exercises. Available from Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes&Noble and other book stores.


  3. yellow orchid


    I love flowers and orchids are one of my favourite. I have lots of them in various colours. Here are a few:


    orchids                       Purple orchid




    Many people say that orchids are difficult to look after but I’m pretty lucky as mine are thriving really well. I’ve even bought some that have been almost dead and managed to revive them. I’m not sure what I’m doing right but here’s some of the things I do.


    1)      I stand the orchids in a sunny place but out of the full sun. A bathroom window ledge is ideal as they get moisture. Bedroom and lounge windows are fine too though as long as they are not in direct sunlight.





    2)      I use transparent plastic pots for orchids that aren’t in flower, so that the roots get the light. Once they flower I use ceramic pots.

    orchid in clear pot

    3)      I spray them once a week and water with orchid food once a week (on different days, not at the same time). I’m careful not to let them get too dry but also make sure that I don’t leave the roots soaking in water either.

    pink orchid


    4)      I always remove dead leaves and flowers. When the orchid flower has died and the stem is turning brown I cut it right back. I cut just below the brown bit, above a node.

    I’m not saying I’m an expert but these tips work for me. What are your tips for looking after orchids?




  4. A big welcome to author, Frank Borne, today. Frank has popped over to tell us about his new book, The Captain and The Queen.

    Franks Book


    The Captain and the Queen is a celebration of all that is New Orleans. This is not just a sweet romance, but a glimpse into the very heart of the Crescent City and gives you a chance to experience the inner workings of Mardi Gras. Baxter Edwards, the captain of a Mardi Gras Carnival krewe struggling in changing economic times, selects a celebrity to serve as monarch. Baxter is convinced his choice will infuse the club with much needed vitality. But when he chooses his best friend’s college-age daughter, Claire Boudreaux, to serve as queen, Baxter is surprised when he and Claire develop feelings for one another. Their love for New Orleans unites them but their age difference threatens to keep them apart as the disapproval of family and friends presents obstacles for the cross-generational relationship. Should Baxter leave Claire alone to graduate and begin her career without the pressure of dating a man in a different phase of life? Come to the Big Easy and let the good times roll.



    Baxter noticed she was having difficulty removing the crown, which had become snarled in her golden locks.
    “Ouch. Something is caught.”
    “Here. Let me help you.”
    He stood at her side and assisted her in untangling her hair from the ornament. She pulled bobby pins holding the hairdo tight and compact except for some wisps of curls hanging at the back of her neck. The motion released the crown from her coiffure, which fell with grace to her shoulders.
    “Well, there you go.” Baxter took the crown from her and held it while she ran her fingers through her hair and shook her head.
    “That’s much better, but I need a brush.”
    “I’m sorry I didn’t go to the play. I was selfish.”
    “No, it’s okay, Bax. I see what Sancus means to you.”
    “I’m bad about letting the club rule my life, though. It has gotten in the way in the past. I need to change. I have to remind myself of our theme, ‘All You Need is Love.’ That’s what’s important.”
    “I think you just showed the whole room a lot of love.”
    Baxter was captivated by Claire’s beauty and understanding, while she appreciated his sensitivity and admired his mature, yet boyish good looks. He put his hand on her hip, pulling her toward him as she placed her hand on his hard chest. Claire sighed and closed her eyes, preparing for what she hoped was a long and sensual kiss. However, they flinched when Kathy knocked on the door, summoning Claire so they could go home.
    “Yoo hoo. Claire?” Her mother opened the door in time to observe the pair embracing and about to kiss, with the crown in Baxter’s hands preventing their bodies from becoming one.
    “Yes, Mom?”
    “Your father and I are ready to go. The crowd is pretty much gone.”
    “Okay.” She took the crown from Baxter and headed for the door. “Thank you, Bax. It was a great day.”
    “Thank you. They loved you.”
    Claire slipped past her mother, who gave Baxter a judgmental glance before also leaving.

     Buy Links





    I asked Frank to tell us a bit about himself

    How did you get started writing?

    I’ve enjoyed writing since I was in junior high school, although most of my writing until a few years ago involved local historical non-fiction.  I had written a novel 15 years ago, but it was very bad.  In reviewing it in 2012, I decided to try something new, so I self-published my first novel, But for the Grace of God, then Astraea Press in 2013 published Fame and Misfortune, which is a nominee for a RONE Award.  Beau Coup Publishing just published my latest novel The Captain and the Queen.

     Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    I’ve lost 140 pounds since my all-time high of 325, and yet I do a lot of baking as a hobby.  It drives my co-workers crazy because they are always on diets, but they love cake!  The weight loss was the inspiration for Fame and Misfortune.                       

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

    Don’t stop writing.  I find that long intervals between novels shake my confidence in my writing.  I believe that my writing has improved with each work, so I feel I must continue to the next project immediately following the last.

    Totally agree, Frank. Keep writing!


    Author bio.

    Frank J. Borne, Jr., serves as Chief Deputy Clerk of Court with the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court's Office in Gretna, Louisiana, where he has been employed since 1994. He graduated from SoutheasternLouisianaUniversity with a bachelor's degree in government and a minor in history. Borne has authored numerous non-fiction books and short essays concerning Jefferson Parish history and politics, and served as editor of The West Bank Beacon, a good-news community newspaper, for three and a half years. In 2012, he self-published his first novel, But for the Grace of God. His novel Fame and Misfortune, a light romance, was published by Astraea Press in 2013 and is a finalist for a RONE Award. In 2014, Beau Coup Publishing released The Captain and the Queen, a sweet romance that takes place in New   Orleans and revolves around the activities of a Mardi Gras organization. Borne lives in Harvey, Louisiana, with his wife Schlise.

     Author Links





     Good to meet you, Frank. Thanks for dropping by. :)


  5. When I was young two of my favourite female characters were Jo March in Little Women and George (Georgina) in the Famous Five. Both of them were strong–willed, feisty and  tomboyish. My favourite male character without a doubt was William from the Just William books. A bit of a rogue who made me laugh.

    Little Women                     five-on-a-treasure-island                         Just William

    As I grew older my favourite female character was Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind and my favourite male character was Simon Templar in the Saint books.


    Gone with the wind          The Saint

    I guess my tastes haven’t changed much. I still like to read about feisty heroines who’ll kick-ass if they have to and loveable rogues who make me laugh. Mr Darcy does nothing for me!

    The heroines and heroes in my own books are pretty much like this too. Amy Carter in my Amy Carter Mysteries isn’t scared to take a risk when she’s trying to solve a crime, even tackling a bunch of smugglers. Morgan, the heroine of Perfect Summer, is a brave, feisty heroine who will do anything to save her brother and the hero, Jamie, is brave, resourceful and a bit of a rogue.

    dognapped               perfectsummer_500x750

    I’m now writing another YA book and guess what the hero and heroine are like? So that made me think. What sort of characters do you like to read about? What do you think makes a good heroine or hero?