<![CDATA[Ally Shields, Author - Blog]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:27:08 -0600Weebly<![CDATA[Three Stories by Caroline Clemmons to Brighten Your Holidays!]]>Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/three-stories-by-caroline-clemmons-to-brighten-your-holidaysPicture
Welcome to another holiday Coffee Chat!

My author guest this week is Caroline Clemmons, who is featuring a sweet western historical, Mistletoe Mistake, suitable for all ages.
Nice to meet you, Caroline. What may I get you to drink?
CC:  I’ve never learned to like coffee (don’t hiss and boo, please. ☺) I drink hot tea each morning—Bewley’s Irish Breakfast. Since we live in the South/Southwest, we have iced tea with lunch and supper year round. In cold weather, we often drink hot chocolate with marshmallows in the evening while watching television movies.
Ally:  There are a lot of tea drinkers among authors, so my magic pot has developed a knack for fixing it. While I grab some mugs, please introduce yourself to readers.

Through a crazy twist of fate, Caroline Clemmons was not born on a Texas ranch. To make up for this tragic error, she writes about handsome cowboys, feisty ranch women, and scheming villains in a small office her family calls her pink cave. She and her Hero live in North Central Texas cowboy country where they ride herd on their rescued cats and dogs. The books she creates there have made her an Amazon bestselling author and won several awards.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "When 9/11 happened, Hero and I were in Edinburgh, Scotland on the loveliest tour we’ve ever taken. We weren’t certain we would be able to come home when the tour finished so we came up with alternatives. By the time the tour ended, though, we were able to board a flight for Dallas."
Author Contacts:
Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.
Click on her Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.
Follow her on BookBub.
Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of HAPPY IS THE BRIDE, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you?
She loves to hear from readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com


Ally:  Who or what inspired you to become a fiction writer?
CC:  I used to write long, long letters to my family and include little anecdotes from things the children, my husband Hero, and I had done. On one visit, my mother-in-law brought a grocery sack filled with romances. She said, “I know you could write these because of the letters you send.” Reading those romances did inspire me, plus Hero encouraged me (and he still does). My first attempt was pretty awful because I didn’t know about character arc, point of view, scene and sequel, or other key components of a good novel. Joining a chapter of Romance Writers of America and attending their workshops made all the difference. Now I don’t think I could stop writing because it’s become too much a part of me.
Ally: How do you pick the names for your characters?
CC:  I keep a list of names I’ve used ever since I discovered I’d used the same ones twice—Beth and Riley. For historical novels, I choose carefully to insure the name is period correct.  I love unusual names and search for those. Many of the names come from my family history, such as Parmelia, so I know in what era they were popular. For contemporary novels, I use names I hear on television and in conversation.
Ally: Does your real life show up in your writing? In what ways?
CC:  I don’t think we could prevent life intersecting our writing, do you? Each of us is a composite of all his or her experiences—good and bad. We draw on these experiences to relate emotion, choose qualities from people we’ve met to fill in a character, pick this or that trait to make each character different from the others.
Virginia Woolf said, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”
Ann Lamott was less charitable, “You own everything that happened to you. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
Ally:  How much research do you do?
CC:  Each book requires unique research, some more than others. My father used to tell captivating stories of when his family came from Georgia to Texas in 1876 and their struggles up through his childhood. I’m sure that’s why I love writing historicals set in that time period. I draw on some of his stories for my work. Books requiring the greatest were The Most Unsuitable Wife, Gabe, and O’Neill’s Texas Bride.
General research is cumulative. For instance, the train travel research for The Most Unsuitable Wife has proved useful for other books for myself and has been shared with friends. Since most of my books take place in Texas or Montana, learning the era customs once is all that’s necessary and then available for many books. Research I haven’t used again is the circus information for Gabe, the coal mining details for O’Neill’s Texas Bride, and the archeology particulars for grant me the moon.
Ally: Tell us about your next book release.
CC:  I’m writing Daniel, book 4 of the McClintocks. In book 3, I left poor Daniel paralyzed from the waist down—which resulted in reader complaints that I’d better write his book soon and he’d better be all right! ☺ I’ve extensively researched treatment, including talking to a man who was paralyzed and now walks perfectly. Early physical therapy, which was called mechanotherapy and by other names, has been difficult. In fact, even though I’m enjoying writing this book, doing so is a serious challenge. I anticipate release in January and already have a gorgeous cover.
Let's wind down our interview with these short answer questions:
  • a.  favorite book:  I have three: Prince Charming by Julie Garwood, Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase, and Fallon by Louis L’Amour—I re-read them about once a year to re-study descriptions and techniques. Plus, I always enjoy them.
  • b. Do you believe in love at first sight? Definitely—it happened to me!
  • c. favorite quote:  “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi
  • d. Your pets:  Three rescued cats: Sebastian-a black tuxedo cat who weighs 20 pounds, Max-a small mischievous Manx, and Jasmine-shy and sweet long-haired Siamese. We lost our little dog, Webster, but will be getting another rescue after the holidays. We favor adopting rescue animals so they won’t be euthanized.
  • e. favorite place to write:  I write on a desktop in my office. The room’s walls are pink and my family calls it my “pink cave”. My computer is on a V shaped desk with a traditional desk beside that. I just got a new monitor I love, which is really the bedroom television set we didn’t use. (Jacquie Rogers gave me that idea.) There are bookcases along one wall. The room is small (7’ by 10’) and crowded, but I am very happy there in my own little writing world.
 Ally:  It's been a pleasure to have you visit. Before you go, please show us your featured book, Mistletoe Mistake.
(And perhaps just a quick peek at your two Christmas novellas, Angel for Christmas and Stone Mountain Christmas.)


Mistletoe Mistake
Genre: sweet historical western

(Originally included in the anthology Wild Western Women… Mistletoe, Montana.)

Shannon Callahan worked hard to become a physician. In New York, she meets resistance to a woman doctor and feels she is no more than a midwife. When the opportunity arises for her to go to Montana and be the only doctor in the town of Mistletoe, she grabs the chance.

Riley McCallister is sheriff of Mistletoe. When he learns the new doctor is a woman, he is shocked and vows never to let her treat him—no matter how beautiful she is. Slowly, Shannon’s skill wins his respect—and more. Shannon’s expertise and dedication during a measles epidemic convinces the town she is a good doctor—but does their acceptance come too late?

Amazon buy link:  http://a.co/gAkI0x7


Outside the store, a crowd of running children barreled into her and she grabbed the wall to stop a fall. “Whoa. Where are you going so fast?”

“They’re running from me.” The sheriff strode toward them carrying the saddest looking dog she’d ever seen.
Poor dog was filthy with several shades of brown hair. He was far too large to be toted around in the sheriff’s arms.

“Is that your dog?” She reached out to scratch between the creature’s ears. He ducked as if he thought she’d hit him.
After putting her parcel more securely under her arm, she caught the dog’s muzzle in her hands. “Poor boy, has someone been mean to you? I won’t hurt you.” She stroked his head and scratched between his ears.
The dog’s eyes lost their fear and he licked her hand. The crowd of children chose her distraction to run away.

“That Doan horde probably didn’t intend to be mean, but they were terrorizing this animal. Five of them fighting over him and pulling him first one way and then the other. They’re lucky he didn’t bite one of them.”

“Whose is he?”

“Never saw him before. Looks as if he’s missed a lot of meals.”

“And baths.” She smiled at the lawman. “I guess you have a dog, Sheriff. What are you going to name him?”

The sheriff shook his head. “He’s not mine. I just don’t want him harmed or frightened.”

“Or hungry or dirty or lonely. You definitely have yourself a dog.”

He leaned toward her and spoke over the dog, “I tell you, I don’t.”

Shannon crossed her arms. “Think not? Put him down and walk away and you’ll see.”

Shooting her a glare, he set the dog on the boardwalk. When the sheriff stepped away, the dog stayed at his heels.

Shannon laughed. “You’d better feed your dog, Sheriff. And name him.”

His eyes held mirth even though he pretended to be angry with her. “I should call him Shannon, but I guess I’ll name him Sylvester. I imagine I can get some scraps from the café.”

“Now you have someone to make rounds with you each day.”

He stopped and stared at the dog. “Hear that, Sylvester. Guess you’re the new deputy.”

Still chuckling, Shannon walked toward her new home. Getting out on such a nice day lifted her mood. She’d even had a halfway decent conversation with the sheriff. And his dog.

Amazon Buy links for the novellas:
Angel for Christmas (contemporary) at http://a.co/d7U0toP
Stone Mountain Christmas (historical) at http://a.co/ae47MN7

<![CDATA[She Believes in Love at First Sight]]>Wed, 06 Dec 2017 07:35:09 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/she-believes-in-love-at-first-sightPicture
Welcome to another holiday Coffee Chat!

Today's guest is contemporary romance writer, Jean Joachim, featuring her book, Break My Heart.

Nice to have you visit, Jean. What may I get you to drink?

JJ: I drink tea, not coffee, the British way – with milk and sugar.

Ally:  No problem. My magic pot can fix anything you want. While I brew something up, please introduce yourself to our readers.

 Jean Joachim is an award-winning, international best-selling romance author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list in the U.S. and abroad since 2012. She writes mostly contemporary romance, which includes sports romance and romantic suspense. Jean has 43 books, novellas and short stories published.
Dangerous Love Lost & Found won 1st place in the suspense category in the 2015 Oklahoma Romance Writers of America International Digital Awards contest. The Renovated Heart won Best Novel of the Year from Love Romances Café. Lovers & Liars was a RomCon finalist in 2013. And The Marriage List tied for third place as Best Contemporary Romance from the Gulf Coast RWA. To Love or Not to Love tied for second place in the 2014 New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America Reader’s Choice contest. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City chapter of RWA.
 Married and the mother of two sons, Jean lives in New York City. Early in the morning, you’ll find her at her computer, writing, with a cup of tea, her rescued pug, Homer, by her side and a secret stash of black licorice.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "I studied piano for three years. I was dropped by my piano teacher when I refused to do the recitals as they made me too nervous."
Author Contacts:
Sign up for her newsletter, on her website: http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com
Or on the Facebook link below, and be eligible for her private paperback sales.
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jean-C.-Joachim/e/B001ITRQKY/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/334810.Jean_C_Joachim 
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jeanjoachim/ 


Ally:  Who is your main character, and why should readers care about him or her?
JJ:  Breaker Winslow is a male model extraordinaire. He runs with the rich, fast crowd. He sleeps around, has millions, owns a townhouse in NYC, and has a non-stop career. Until a fire destroys everything, including his looks.
You might say, why should I care about him? Because after he loses everything and has to rebuild his life from ground zero, he learns what’s really important in life. He thinks that all he wants is to get his old life back. Then, by a twist, he has the opportunity to do that. Will he? Will it be everything he thought it was?
Ally:  But how well do you really know him? Can you answer these questions about Rick "Breaker" Winslow?
a. age, gender – male, somewhere in his mid thirties.
b. color of hair and eyes – dark hair, almost black, and piercing, Caribbean blue eyes
c. level of education and/or training – Rick went to college but never graduated because he was traveling all over the world modeling.
d. favorite color – Being the egotist he is, Caribbean blue, the same color as his eyes is his favorite color.
e. style of clothes – Expensive. Italian suits made to order, designer jeans, only the top-of-the-line for everything. Until he moves to the country. Then he gets into flannel shirts and old, beat-up jeans.
f.  pets – Oliver, formerly known as Scruffy. A pug, of course.
Ally: Since this blog has strong paranormal ties, I have to ask one woo-woo question. Here is yours. If you could have one supernatural power, what would it be and why?
JJ:  I’d want to fly, like Superman. I think it would be so great to soar with birds, see the world from above and get about without driving or taking public transportation. I’d get to investigate all those nests up on high you see from the ground and make friends with eagles.
Ally:  Tell us about your favorite hobby (non-writing).
JJ:  It has to be photography. I love art and taking pictures. I’m very visual. Capturing something beautiful to look at whenever I want is awesome. Creating artistic pictures and advertisements for my books, as well as the occasional cover is my go to relaxation and quiet joy place. I love fooling around with art.
Ally:   Have you thought about one of your books being made into a movie? Who would play the parts?
JJ:  Yes. Break My Heart would make a good movie. I think Tom Ellis, who plays the title role on Lucifer, would be ideal as Rick Breaker Winslow.
Ally: Are you ready for some short answer questions? Go!
  • a. favorite book – Pride and Prejudice
  • b. book you're currently reading – Flow – a hockey romance by V.L. Locey
  • c. an author (living or dead) you'd love to take to lunch – Jane Austen
  • d. manicure or pedicure – Pedicure. My hands are too busy to keep a manicure.
  • e. favorite tv show – Designated Survivor or Face Off
  • f. favorite accessory (jewelry, scarves, shoes, etc.) – scarves.
  • g. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes. And I write about it, too.
Ally: Thanks for spending time with us, Jean. Best of luck with your books. Before you go, let's take a peek at Break My Heart.


Break My Heart
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Men envied Breaker Winslow and women wanted to sleep with him. As a top cover model with a budding acting career, he embodied every man’s dream. Living in a townhouse in Manhattan, Rick Breaker Winslow had everything he ever wanted.
When fire ripped through his home, trapping his beautiful golden retriever, Breaker pushed firemen aside to rescue his beloved dog. While heading for the stairs with the canine in his arms, a falling beam crushed them, killing the animal and scarring Breaker’s face.

Life, as the famous Breaker Winslow, disappeared. With his career finished, Rick appealed to his friends –who turned their backs on him.
Broken, despondent, and alone, he takes refuge in a decrepit farm house in rural Pine Grove. Can the man who had success and love around every corner rebuild his life or is escape the only answer? 

Buy Links:
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076N541Y5
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076N541Y5
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B076N541Y5
Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B076N541Y5
Barnes & Noble: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jean_Joachim_Break_My_Heart?id=CG4-DwAAQBAJ
KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/break-my-heart-2
Google Play:
iTunes/Apple Books: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1313043574
Print: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1979727066

Thanks for stopping by. See you next week!

<![CDATA[A Christmas Books Spotlight]]>Sat, 02 Dec 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/a-christmas-books-spotlight

Christmas Under the Stars

November 1858, Utah Territory
Edie Meredith strives to keep her temper and her tongue under control as she heads west with her brother to California. Raised in an itinerant preacher family, she promises she will never marry a man of the cloth.
Tom Aiken, drover of the wagon train, longs to answer his true calling: to preach, and while he realizes not every woman would choose a preacher for a husband, he hopes to soon find his help-meet.
Suspicious ‘accidents’ plague their journey. Is someone trying to keep them from reaching their destination? Or will misunderstanding and circumstances keep them apart?

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Under-Stars-Donna-Schlachter/dp/1943688389

The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado

Matthew returns to Christmas Inn to celebrate his fortieth anniversary alone, intending to take his own life so he can join his beloved Sarah, who passed on to glory the previous January. Not certain how—or if—he will go on without her, Matthew learns on his arrival that the old inn will close its doors on New Year’s Eve. A developer has purchased the building and intends to tear it down and put up a chain hotel. Determined to keep his memories and his connection to Sarah alive, Matthew embarks on a harebrained scheme to keep the inn open.
Edith Cochrane, a widow, comes to Christmas Inn because she has nowhere else to spend the holidays. Her children are angry with her because she refuses to choose to live with one of them. Edith and her husband enjoyed a long marriage and a long mission-field ministry, but ever since his passing the previous year, Edith has found herself at loose ends. She comes to Christmas Inn to spend some time thinking about her options.
Can Matthew and Edith save the old hotel—and themselves—or will they run out of time?

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Christmas-Inn-Colorado/dp/1943688400

Both Books:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2gZATjm

About Donna:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Her recent releases include The Mystery of Christmas Inn, Colorado and Christmas Under the Stars. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

Author Links:
www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter

<![CDATA[Coffee and a Cozy with Marilyn Levinson]]>Wed, 29 Nov 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/coffee-and-a-cozy-with-marilyn-levinsonPicture
Welcome to this week's Coffee Chat!

As we're headed into the December holiday season, we're taking time out to spend some time with cozy mystery author, Marilyn Levinson.

Good morning, Marilyn! How do you take your coffee?

ML:  I grind French roast coffee beans for my morning coffee, which I drink in a mug with a tablespoon or so of Carnation milk and sometimes a shake of ground cinnamon.  Never any sugar. I sometimes have coffee after lunch and/or in the evening after dinner. If I have coffee in the evening, I mix coffee beans – half French roast, half decaffeinated French roast.

Ally:  While I prepare a cup of your favorite morning brew, please introduce yourself to readers.

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense and novels for kids. Ghosts, witches and cats appear in many of her books. She writes the Twin Lakes Mystery series and the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery series. Death Overdue, the first in her Haunted Library Mystery series and written under the pseudonym Allison Brook, was released in October, 2017. Library Journal has given the book a star review and named it Pick of the Month. Blackstone has recorded an audio version of Death Overdue. Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her novels take place
Marilyn likes traveling, foreign films, reading, knitting, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, dining out with her significant other and talking to her grandkids on FaceTime.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "I love to shop, though I don’t get a chance to do it very often. I find it relaxing and exciting, but I’m careful to only buy clothing that I know I will wear."
Author Contacts:
website: http://www.marilynlevinson.com
Marilyn’s Amazon page: http://amzn.to/K6Md1O
Allison’s Amazon page: http://tinyurl.com/ksydz3s
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.levinson.10?ref=ts&fref=ts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/161602.Marilyn_Levinson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarilynLevinson
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marilev/

Ally:  Describe your writing process. Schedule, goals, etc.
ML:  I come up with an idea for a book or a series and start to flesh it out in my mind. What is my sleuth like? What is her background? Where does the book take place? Who is murdered and why? By whom? Once I have answers to these questions, I write an outline. Then I start writing chapters. Often my outline changes course. I write a novel in four to six months. If I get stuck, I backtrack to see where I’ve gone wrong. Occasionally when I’m stuck, I’ll ask for help from my mystery-writing group. When my book is finished, I edit it carefully with many check points in mind. I also make sure it reads smoothly. Then I go over it again. Sometimes I have beta readers read it before handing it in to my editor. Sometimes I skip that step.
Ally:  Authors always play the what if game in their writing, so what if you were a supernatural being, what kind would you be? And why?
ML:  I would be a witch capable of casting magic spells. I would love to have this power to do good and to help repair and rectify bad events and situations.
Ally:  What is your favorite (non-writing) hobby?
ML:  I love knitting. After scouring the internet and knitting books for patterns, I often design my own sweaters. I like knitting for my grandkids and for myself.
Ally:  Are there animals in your books? What part do they play?
ML:  Yes, I often have animals in my books—usually a cat, sometimes a dog. In Death Overdue, Carrie finds a stray half-grown kitten near her cottage and ends up bringing him to work. Smoky Joe becomes the Clover Ridge Library’s library cat, a big favorite of the library’s patrons.
Ally: Tell us about your latest writing project?
ML:  Read and Done, the second book in the Haunted Library Mystery series, is in the editing stage and expected to be out in September of 2018. Carrie’s father, whom she hasn’t seen in years, shows up at her cottage, wanting her to help him retrieve his share of gems that his partner has stolen. His partner is murdered and Carrie’s father is Suspect Number One. Carrie must find the murderer and the gems before her father or anyone else does.
Ally: And now let's get to know some trivia about You.
  • a. favorite book:  Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy
  • b. favorite movie:  “Two for the Road” with Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney
  • c. favorite book boyfriend:  Jamie of Outlander by Diane Gibaldon
  • d. Your pets:  Sammy is my red tabby. He’s 12 and1/2. Though he loves me, he occasionally bites.
  • e. Your hobbies:  Sudoku, Crossword puzzles, knitting
Ally:  Thanks so much for spending time with us, Marilyn. Before you go, show us your cozy mystery, Death Overdue.


Genre: cozy mystery
Carrie Singleton forgoes her purple hair and Goth attire to become head of programs and events of the Clover Ridge Library. She finds herself embroiled in solving a cold case and a new murder with the occasional help of the library’s sixty-something ghost amid family squabbles, romance and discovering her place in life.
Buy Links:
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ksydz3s
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-overdue-allison-brook/1125886921?ean=9781683313861#/
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/death-overdue-allison-brook/1125886921?ean=9781683313878
Audio:  https://www.downpour.com/death-overdue?sp=203816

<![CDATA[In Search of Christmas Past: Book Spotlight]]>Mon, 27 Nov 2017 01:43:15 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/in-search-of-christmas-past-book-spotlightPicture

In Search of Christmas Past
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction

Grace Bellows, a senior in college, receives a Christmas card one month after her grandmother’s death, where her beloved Grammie challenges her to an old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Raised by her grandmother after her parents’ death in a car accident when she was eight, Grace has lived a jetsetter lifestyle with her wealthy grandmother. Now all she wants is to settle down and have a normal life.
Luke Fisher manages his family’s Christmas tree farm out of a sense of loyalty to his deceased mother because she gave up her dreams of being an attorney. He doesn’t want to live with any regrets, and longs to escape the confines of loyalty to live a life of adventure in the real world.
Can Grace and Luke solve the clues and uncover the truth about their real feelings, or will the tension and their differences in goals and faith drive them apart?

Book Buy Links:


Other Books:
Amazon http://amzn.to/2dHfgCE  and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2z5ecP8


At the sound of tires crunching on the snow, Luke Fisher looked up from the stake he was using to anchor an errant sapling into an upright position. A shiny red sports car eased through the gate and into the single cleared space in the parking lot. The farm didn’t open for five days, and he hadn’t gotten around to plowing since the storm on Saturday.
Luke focused on the task. Nobody wanted to buy a crooked Christmas tree. The driver was probably just lost and using the lot to turn around. He pulled the cord taut and checked the rubber collar around the trunk of the baby tree. Satisfied, he stood. The driver exited the car and pulled her coat collar around her ears. Her brown hair escaped her knit cap, and the ends danced around her face.

Luke walked toward her, feeling underdressed, like a poor country cousin, compared to his visitor. Her leather jacket hugged her form as though made especially for her. He glanced at his flannel garment hanging open over a t-shirt and jeans, and groaned inwardly. This was no way to make an impression on a customer. Or a woman as lovely as she.
He peeled off his gloves and extended his right hand. “Welcome to Valley View Nursery. We don’t open for a few days.”
She returned the gesture in a solid handshake. Not too strong, no shrinking violet. He liked that in a woman.

She glanced at the trees around them. “I’m looking for something.”

“Anything in particular?”

“A tree.”

“Like I said, we aren’t open yet, but I guess I could sell you a tree if you find the one you want.” He eyed the car. “Planning to carry it back on that?”

She studied the acres of trees covering the hillside. “I don’t want to buy a tree. I’m looking for something on a bough.”

Luke offered a smile. “As you can see, we have lots to choose from.  And if you don’t see the one you want, we have about a thousand acres more.”

She stared at him, one eyebrow lifted.

Luke shoved his hands in his pockets. Great, she thought he was a babbling idiot. Best to keep his mouth shut.

She sauntered down the first row toward a tree all dolled up in Christmas ornaments, and Luke followed close behind. The frozen ground crunched beneath their feet and the breeze carried their breath off in clouds.

She pointed to the Colorado spruce. “Maybe this one.”

Luke waited near her as she scanned the branches. After a minute or so, she turned. “Any other decorations?”

“Sure.” Hitching his head to one side, he walked away in the opposite direction. He paused at a clearing between the spruces and the scotch pines. “There.”

He loved the effect this section of the farm had on people, and he wasn’t disappointed by her response. In typical fashion, her eyes grew large and her mouth formed an “o” as she stared at the eight trees, bedecked in hundreds of ornaments and lights. She stepped closer to the first tree and craned her neck to survey the twelve-foot pine from top to bottom.

At his laugh, she glared at him. “What’s so funny?”

He sobered. “I love it when folks see these trees for the first time. Doesn’t matter how old or young they are, same look on their faces.”

“How nice.” She turned on her heel and resumed her study.

Or maybe that wasn’t the right word. Not so much study as search.
“Are you looking for a particular ornament?”

She kept her eyes on the tree. “Something to do with the seas.”

Luke followed her gaze. “Seas?”

She pulled a piece of paper from her pocket. “Right, and something about being lost.”


She returned the note to her pocket. “Is there an echo here?” Tilting her head to one side, she smiled in his direction. “Nope. No echo.”

Was she flirting with him? Or taunting him? “Think I’ll sit in my trailer and get something hot to drink.”

She touched his forearm. “I’m sorry. I-I need your help.”

He paused and looked off at the mountains in the distance as if considering her words. Which he wasn’t. The jolt of electricity at her touch warmed him all the way to his heart, and he never wanted her to remove her hand. Years had gone by since a woman said she needed his help. Not since his mother—and never Melanie. No, she showed him what she needed. Hundred percent diva, that woman. She didn’t need him. She needed money to support her in the lifestyle to which she wanted to become accustomed.

And that wasn’t him.

Surprising himself, he nodded. “I’ll help. Tell me again what you’re looking for.”

When she spoke, the wind carried the vapor toward the nearest tree like a wraith. “Seas. Lost. That’s all I know.”

He pursed his lips, and a crazy thought burst unbidden into his mind: kissable lips. Heat rushed to his cheeks at the audacious thought. He didn’t even know this woman’s name and was already thinking of kissing her? Well, he could correct that oversight right now. “By the way, my name is Luke Fisher.”

She nodded. “Grace Bellows.”

“Seas and lost. Lost at sea? Like a shipwreck, maybe?”

“I don’t know.”

They walked around the first tree, tossing out thoughts like breadcrumbs at the duck pond.
Luke pointed. “Maybe a ship’s anchor?”

“Don’t usually lose those, do you?”

He dropped his hand at his side. “Right.” At the next tree, he bent low. “What about a starfish?”

“Don’t think so. Something that’s lost at sea, or something from the sea that gets lost.”

At the third tree, they stood side by side and eyed the ornaments.
Luke pointed to the rows of trees on either side. “My mother used to decorate these trees.”

“Used to?”

“She died a couple of years ago. So now I put all these up.” He stared at his feet. Heat burned his cheeks once again, and he was certain the cold was not to blame. “Don’t have the same heart for the process she did. More a chore than a joy.”

“I know what you mean. After my parents died, my grandparents tried to fill the void. That first Christmas without my mom and dad was the hardest. We reproduced everything just as they would have done. What a disaster. So we came back to Colorado for Christmas every year, but it was never the same. When my grandfather died, we had no reason to come here. And once I started college, it seemed like we never had the time.”

Listening to her, frost in the corners of his heart melted. He stared at the mountains in the distance, forcing the emotions back down where they belonged, unable to speak past the lump in his throat. After a long moment, he cleared his throat. “Why are you looking for something that’s lost?”

She opened the poem again. “The poem says this thing that’s related to the seas isn’t lost. Says it just seems to be lost.”

He smiled and snapped his fingers. “Got it.”

They hurried to the second-to-last tree, and he reached high and pulled down an ornament, holding the ceramic object in his hand.

She peered into the cradle created by his fingers. “A seagull?”

“Not a seagull. Seagulls only live on the oceans. This is a gull. A lot of people think they’re seagulls that got blown in on a storm.” He laughed. “That would have to be some storm to blow a bird more than a thousand miles from the ocean.”
He held the ornament by its string, the wings outstretched as if soaring on the wind. “No, these gulls are inland birds. They stick around the metro area, although if the winter is harsh, they migrate a few hundred miles to southern New Mexico.”

“You sound like an expert on gulls.”

He set the ornament into her waiting hands. “Just the son of a birdwatcher. My mother always said God had a creative mind.” He shrugged. “I don’t know about that.”

Her smile slipped away. “I’ll be going now. Thanks for your help.

He didn’t want her to leave. Not yet. Maybe not ever. “Do you think this is what you’re looking for?”

She shook her head as she peered at the underside of the ornament. “I’m not sure. I’ve got to find the next clue.”


“This is part of a scavenger hunt my grandmother sent me on.” Grace dangled the bird in front of her. “Before she died, she set all this up. I just received the first clue in a poem. And now I’m going to spend my Christmas break trying to figure out a crazy old woman’s sense of humor.” She looked up at the sky. “If there really is a heaven, she’s probably up there laughing at me right now.”

He shuffled his feet. “Well, I know most of the area, so if you have any questions, maybe I can help.”

She turned a cold eye on him, studying him from head to toe like an insect under a microscope. What was he thinking? She had everything she needed. She was smart, in college no less, had a cool car, and money.
So beautiful she probably had guys chasing her all the time.
She represented everything he wanted and didn’t have.

About the Author:

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released six titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Petty Cash releasing in December. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at www.LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital format.
Website: www.LeeannBetts.com Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.
Blog: www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://bit.ly/1pQSOqV
Twitter: http://bit.ly/1qmqvB6

<![CDATA[Randi Lynn Mrvos: Inspired to Write for Kids]]>Wed, 22 Nov 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/randi-lynn-mrvos-inspired-to-write-for-kidsPicture
Welcome to our Thanksgiving Week Coffee Chat!

Our guest is children's author Randi Lynn Mrvos with her picture book, Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.
Great to meet you, Randi. How do you take your coffee?

RLM: I’ll have a cappuccino, please.

Ally: Let me confer with the magic pot just a moment, and we'll fix you up. Meanwhile, please tell readers something about yourself.

About the Author:
I am the editor of the Kid’s Imagination Train e-zine and a former consultant for Pearson Digital Learning.  My articles have been published in children’s magazines like Fun for Kidz, Appleseeds, and Highlights for Children as well as for Mothering magazine and The Christian Science Monitor
Something that isn't in your regular bio:  "I thought writing a picture book was difficult.  But, finding a publisher was even more difficult.   Now, I am finding that marketing my book is the most difficult and challenging part of being a writer."
Author Links:


Ally:  What was your journey to publication, including bumps and missteps?
RLM:  Way back in 1995, I was inspired to write for kids after reading picture books to my newborn daughter.  Back then, I took writing classes, read books on the craft of writing for kids, joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and attended workshops and conferences, all of which helped me create award-winning picture book manuscripts.  One of these stories, Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell won three writing prizes.  Unfortunately, it was constantly rejected for publication. After the 50th rejection, I shelved the piece. Fast forward six years. I hired editorial consultant Mary Kole to help me with a new manuscript. As part of the services, she offered to critique three query letters. I dug out the query for Maggie and then re-read the story. Surprisingly, I still liked it. Then I realized—the piece was too long. After cutting 500 words, I re-submitted Maggie to five more publishers. A month later, Saturn’s Moon Press sent me a contract.
Ally: Since you're featuring Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell on the blog this week, fill in these facts about your main character.
      a. age, gender:  six-year-old girl
      b. color of hair and eyes:  red curly hair, brown eyes
      c. level of education and/or training:  first-grader
      d. favorite color:  green
      e. style of clothes: casual
      f.  pets:  a rescue dog named Trooper
Ally: And why do you think readers will care about her?
RLM:  Maggie is a spunky first-grader.  All of her classmates have exciting souvenirs to bring to school for the summer vacation show-and-tell, but she is the only student who doesn’t have anything to share. Maggie and her family didn’t travel over the school break. The day is nearly over and Maggie is in tears, until she remembers she can bring something special to school.  
Ally:  How did you choose the book's title?
RLM:  The title for Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell actually changed four times.  It was originally called Maggie and the Third Grade Blues.  In the end, I opted for a more descriptive title. 
Ally:  Tell us about your favorite hobby (non-writing).
RLM:  Actually, I have two hobbies—taking ballet and learning French. Ballet is a good workout, both physically and mentally (you’ve got to remember all the intricate steps at the barre and during center work) And what can I say about French? Oh, la, la! J’adore la langue (I love the language). One day, my husband and I would like to live in southern France.
Ally:  What is next on your writing agenda? Release date?
RLM:  My next writing project is the sequel to Maggie, starring our little redhead and a very cute cat (fashioned after my cat Ozzie).  Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell was released August 23, 2017, so it will be a while.
Ally: And now answer your own set of quick questions.
  • a. favorite book: To name a few: The Things They Carried, Life of Pi, Middlesex, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, I Want My Hat Back, Pandora
  • b. favorite book boyfriend:  ah…Mr. Darcy.  Need I say more?
  • c. Your pets:  Ozzie, a black and gray striped rescue cat
  • d. favorite after five drink: Amoretto sour 
  • e. favorite (dream) place to write:  in a cozy mountain cabin   
Ally: Thanks so much for chatting with us, Randi. Before you rush off to the next project, show us a little of your picture book.
                     PSST - Hey, readers, doesn't this look like a terrific gift for the holidays? Just saying.


Book Blurb: 
Maggie has a big problem…it’s time for summer vacation show-and-tell…what does she have to show for her summer adventure?  Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell is an extraordinary story of a little girl’s discovery.  Author Randi Lynn Mrvos uses this story to show children that sometimes blessings come in mysterious disguises.  If you stop and look around, you will see!
Book Trailer:
Buy Link:  autographed books may be purchased at www.randilynnmrvos.com
Barnes and Noble:

<![CDATA[Sneak Peek: Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire]]>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/sneak-peek-bringer-of-chaos-forged-in-firePicture
Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire
The Sempervian Saga (Book 2)
by Kayelle Allen

Humans created the Ultras, a genetically enhanced race, to defend mankind. Instead, Ultras became their greatest threat. With the help of traitors, humans captured half a million of the immortal warriors.
Exiled to an alien world with no tech, no tools, and no resources, their leader, Pietas, must protect his people, find food and shelter and unite them. But before he can, he must regain command from a ruthless adversary he's fought for centuries--his brutal, merciless father.
Ultras are immortal, and no matter how they die, they come back. Reviving after death isn't all it's cracked up to be. Some wounds heal instantly and a few take time, but battered and broken trust? Immortals may heal, but a wound of the heart lasts forever.

Amazon Pre-Order Link
Genre: Science Fiction with romantic elements
Rating: PG13 for violence, no profanity or explicit content

Cover artist Brumae
DeviantArt https://brumae-art.deviantart.com/ 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Brumae

**In this scene from Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire, Pietas and the search party sent to find him have stopped their upward mountain trek for a short break. Prior to their reunion the previous day, Pietas had spent a year in confinement, hands bound behind him. He'd been starved to the point of death, but because he's immortal, he could not die. Although he's healed since, the brutality left a lasting toll on his once robust physical body. As they prepare to get underway, he unwittingly reveals the impairment.**
Wincing, Pietas stretched to ease cramps in his back.

His sister stood. "Tas!" she called up to him. She'd started using her childhood name for him since they'd reconnected the day before. "Are you hurt?
A quick telepathic scan from Joss swept over him before he realized it was there. Pietas had still been a teenager when she'd trained him to shield his mind from those with her gift. Not that he'd ever been able to block her. She was far too powerful, but today, she'd read him with no more difficulty than a hunter spying trail signs. He'd been near no Ultra telepaths for over a year.

His affinity with Six had made him careless and he'd neglected the basic lessons Joss had taught him.

It wasn't a lack of trust. Trust had never been an issue with Joss.

He treasured her, but he ought not to have been so unguarded and open. Vulnerable.

"Pietas." Joss stood. The waves of emotion he picked up from her held love and concern in equal measure. And a bit of disappointment. "You're injured."

He ducked his head like a schoolboy who'd forgotten his lessons. Admit mortals had damaged him? Never. Neither would he lie about it. He'd take better care to hide the pain.

"Don't worry about me." Whistling, he circled a finger in the air. "Let's go! Long climb ahead." He leaped down from the rocks. "Joss, you lead." Last thing he wanted was her behind him, using him as an object of focus.
What telepaths focused upon, they controlled.

The Sempervian Saga (Book 1):

Bringer of Chaos: The Origin of Pietas

Why should Pietas end the war with humans?

His people are winning, yet they insist on peace talks. The Ultra people want to grant humans a seat on the Council. Pietas ap Lorectic, Chancellor of the High Council, War Leader and First Conqueror, disagrees. What's best for mortals is oppression, control, and if necessary, elimination.
Pietas seethes with rage at the idea of human equality. Humans might have created Ultras, but the creation has far surpassed the creator. Humans die. Ultras are reborn, no matter how grievous the injury. They have no equals.
His people permit him no choice. He must attend these insipid peace talks on Enderium Six and what's worse, be polite. To humans.
When a human special ops warrior is killed in battle, he's resurrected in a secret process and inducted into the Ghost Corps. He's given enough strength to perma-kill immortal Ultras. Ghosts are the most hated and feared of warriors.
When the ghost entraps and captures Pietas at the peace talks, the two begin a long journey toward Sempervia, an isolated and forgotten world. Once there, Pietas is marooned and the ghost abandoned alongside him. The two must either fight to perma-death, or join forces to survive.
As Pietas comes to trust the human, an unlikely and awkward friendship begins. Until he discovers how ghosts are resurrected...

Amazon Buy Link

                                                 GIVEAWAY ~ Free Download
Free -- download Endure, Illustrated Quotes by Pietas (as told to Kayelle Allen). Enjoy an exclusive collection of quotes on the concept of endurance by the man known to other immortals as the Bringer of Chaos. https://kayelleallen.com/media/30-days-endure.pdf
Download a free adult coloring book you can print and share. Relax and color with friends. It's fun! https://kayelleallen.com/media/pietas-coloring-book.pdf

About the Author:

Mythic Heroes and Misbehaving Robots:
Kayelle Allen writes Sci Fi with mythic heroes, misbehaving robots, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She's a US Navy veteran and has been married so long she's tenured.

Twitter https://twitter.com/kayelleallen
Facebook https://facebook.com/kayelleallen.author
Join the Romance Lives Forever Reader Group Download four free books and get news about books coming soon. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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<![CDATA[Linda Nightingale's Angels]]>Wed, 15 Nov 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/linda-nightingales-angelsPicture
Good Morning, Booklovers!

Are you ready for another author Coffee Chat? This week's guest is Linda Nightingale with her book, Gylded Wings. (Don't miss the *Giveaway at the end!)
Ally: It's terrific to meet you, Linda! How do you take your coffee?
Linda:  I have way too much coffee in the morning, as much as 3 cups, that I take with a lot of whole milk. I prefer organic milk because it tastes richer.
Ally: That sounds easy enough to fix. While I get our drinks ready, please introduce yourself to readers.

About Linda:
Born in South Carolina, Linda has lived in England, Canada, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta and Houston.  She’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer, having bred, trained and showed Andalusian horses for many years.
Linda has won several writing awards, including the Georgia Romance Writers Magnolia Award and the SARA Merritt.  She has two wonderful sons, is a retired legal assistant, and member of the Houston BMW Club. In a former life, she must have had to walk everywhere because today she is into transportation: loving horses and hot cars! She likes to dress up and host formal dinner parties.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "I wrote erotic romance under the name Bianca Swan, 2 novellas (Hot Spanish Nights and Celestial Sin) published by The Wild Rose Press and a full-length novel called Wings of Desire from Canadian publisher Double Dragon Publishing."
 Contact Links:
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LNightingale
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/LindaNightingaleAuthor
Web Site:  http://www.lindanightingale.com – Visit and look around. There’s a free vampire story.
Blog:  https://lindanightingale.wordpress.com/ - Lots of interesting guests & prizes
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4839311.Linda_Nightingale
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/lbnightingale1/
Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Nightingale/e/B005OSOJ0U

Ally:  When readers open the cover of Gylded Wings, what type of book will they find?
LN:  Gylded Wings is a mainstream fantasy novel. The sex and violence is limited. The sex scenes are ‘behind closed doors’.
Ally:  How did you choose the title? 
LN:  This time my editor actually named the book.  The working title had been I, Lucifer, and she thought that title might be misconstrued as satanic, which this is book is definitely NOT.  In fact, the ending is quite uplifting.
Ally:  Tell us about the main character of the book, including a description and a couple of specific things he likes, ie. his favorite color.
LN:  Gylan is male. He is 30 years old when the story opens. His eyes and hair are a burnished gold. Not blond, but actual gilt, and he is the most beautiful angel in creation. He is a slave when the story opens, but later learns, as an angel on earth, he has mind-blowing powers and abilities. His beauty is a magnet and a curse. His clothes are Classic and Classy. His favorite color is red, and his treasure is a golden floor harp.
Ally:   Have you thought about one of your books being made into a movie? Who would play the parts? 
LN:  I dreamed of Sinners’ Opera becoming a movie. It is set in beautiful and historic Charleston, South Carolina, which also plays a part in the hero’s personal history.  Sinners’ Opera is a paranormal romance.  The hero is Morgan D’Arcy—an English lord, classical pianist and…a vampire.  I’d cast Johnny Depp (with long blond hair and blue contacts) as Morgan. The heroine is a beautiful and brilliant geneticist. Ideally, Isabeau would have been played by the lovely Michelle Pfeiffer.  The anti-hero is Lucien St. Albans, a tall, dark, handsome and dangerous man.  Antonio Banderas would star as Lucien.
Ally:  As authors we often give our characters fantastic powers. If you could have one supernatural power, what would it be?
LN:  Mind reading. It would save a lot of misunderstandings. I’d get all kinds of cool dialogue and ideas for stories, right? In their own thoughts, people usually tell the truth.
Ally:  Tell us a little about your daily life, your home, the things you like to do.
LN:  I live in the big state of Texas in a house in a subdivision with a golf course, tennis courts and a workout room in the clubhouse. I don’t play golf, tennis or workout. Weird, huh? I’d rather be on a farm with a couple of horses and maybe a miniature pony for an inside pet, along with my dog Courage, a 4-year-old Coton de Tulear.
Ally:  Are there animals in your books? What part do they play?
LN:  In most of my books, in some form or fashion, the magnificent Andalusian horse makes an appearance—sometimes as almost a main character but always at least a mention.  I bred, trained and showed the Andalusian, and I love them dearly. They are beautiful, fairytale-like, kind and gentle but fiery and spirited as well.
Ally:  What will be your next book?
LN:  I’m currently polishing the sequel to Love For Sale (The Wild Rose Press), my novel about sentient androids indistinguishable from human, who are being sold for loving companions.  Like Gylded Wings, Love For Sale explores the different kinds of love. The sequel is Life For Sale. I haven’t even submitted it yet, so have no idea about a release date.  For anyone interested, there’ll be news in my Newsletter.  Four other TWRP authors and I have a joint newsletter, the Wild Roses of Prose.  Signup link:  https://www.facebook.com/wildrosesofprose/
Ally:  Ready for some quick answer questions?
  •  a. manicure or pedicure - Pedicure
  • b. favorite tv show – Toss up among: Game of Thrones, Outlander, Lucifer, Poldark and Lethal Weapon
  • c. color of nail polish you have on – Metallic pink
  • d. favorite accessory (jewelry, scarves, shoes, etc.) – Jewelry. I LOVE bling!
  • e. favorite song – Memory from Cats
  • f. favorite quote – from Oscar Wilde: "The world was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork."
Ally:  Thanks so much for spend time with us, Linda. Before you go, I know readers are eager to hear more about Gylded Wings...


Gylded Wings
Genre: fantasy
Angels in slavery? Brit Montgomery cannot believe it, until she is sent on a rescue mission to another dimension and witnesses the cruel practice first hand. The angel, Gyldan, is the most beautiful being she’s ever seen. She is drawn to him but sometimes beauty disguises wicked secrets. This man who rocks her world seems more demon than angel.
Gyldan, born into slavery, has one desire—fly free. When he escapes to Earth, he faces an alternate self-realization full of dark glory…and disbelief. Gyldan is bent on experiencing his newfound powers unmindful of the harm to Brit or others.
Confused and hurt by Gyldan’s erratic evil actions, Brit turns away. While Gyldan’s journey of self-discovery pulls him further distant, Brit finds acceptance in a solitary, comfortable life of her own until she realizes the day of reckoning has come. Will Gyldan be her final ruin or has he come back to her with a gift more precious than life itself?
Book video:  https://youtu.be/LuVl93b_BE0

Buy Link:        http://a.co/9xRtANx


Like to try Linda's writing with a free ebook AND autographed bookmark? It easy to enter her drawing. Just comment below. You can choose any book from her back list (found here - her author page on Amazon). Next Monday, she'll select a random commenter to receive both!

<![CDATA[Veterans Day Salute]]>Sat, 11 Nov 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/veterans-day-saluteTo the men and women who guards our shores...
<![CDATA[Author Sheri Levy and her "kind of things"]]>Wed, 08 Nov 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://allyshields.com/blog/author-sheri-levy-and-her-kind-of-thingsPicture
                Good Morning, Booklovers!
It's time for another author Coffee Chat, and this week's guest is Sheri Levy, a writer of contemporary, coming-of-age, and young adult fiction.
Welcome, Sheri. How do you take your coffee?
SL: Black and strong in flavor.
Ally:  You're making this so easy for me! While I pour, please tell readers about your background.

In 1979, Sheri Levy moved to South Carolina from Southern California with her husband and two young children. As her children entered school, Sheri used her three Special Ed teaching credentials and entered her own classroom. After sixteen years of teaching special needs children (K5-2nd grade) she became involved in a Family Learning Program, promoting reading, preparing young adults for their GED, and teaching parenting skills. 
Seeing her students’ eyes light up during writing workshops and author presentations, keeps her writing and focusing on the students. Sheri works an accredited, non-profit service dog training facility, PAALS, and donates her book proceeds, and in turn, PAALS helps promote Sheri’s work.
After loving five past dogs, Sheri now enjoys two Australian Shepherds. One dog, being a very troubled rescue, triggering Sheri to become involved in obedience and agility training.

PictureSheri's Aussie Shepherds
Through the years, the subject of dogs and special children captured her heart, and have added a very personal aspect to her stories. Her first novel, Seven Days to Goodbye, won the Special Interest category in the Dog Writers of America contest, 2015. In September, 2017, it won a gold medal with Readers Favorite. Her sequel, Starting Over, was launched August 1st, 2017. And Sheri is working on her third series book, For Keeps.
Something unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "I twirled a baton, competed all over the U.S., and taught twirling in private lessons and Park & Recreation classes through college."
My author links:
Website:  www.sherislevy.com
Facebook: SheriSLevyauthor.com
Twitter: @SheriSLevy
LinkedIn: Sheri Shepherd Levy
Instagram: eightpawswriting


Ally:  Let's begin by talking about the writing process. Describe your typical writing day.
SL:  Since I am retired, I have a flexible schedule. I enjoy waking early and reading what I wrote the day before, and then moving forward. My goals change depending on what is scheduled for that day. I usually turn off my computer by 5:00p.m. and enjoy my husband’s company.
Ally:  Talk about the main character of the YA/MG books you're featuring today.
SL:  My main character, Trina, begins the story at age thirteen and matures to the age of fourteen in the sequel. Trina has chosen to be a Puppy Raiser for Service Dogs. In each story, the reader will pull for her as she learns about responsibility and cares for the puppies and her friends.
Ally: Every writer finds his or her own unique path to publication. What was yours?
SL:  After seven years of learning how to put a novel together, I put my first manuscript into a dark drawer and started writing Seven Days to Goodbye. My full manuscript was being read by agents, but I was getting, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.”  No one wanted a story about service dogs.
One afternoon, I read a note on Facebook about Barking Rain Press was accepting manuscripts until midnight. I decided to fill out the lengthy application and submitted to my first publishing house, one minute before midnight.
One month later, I received a request for the full manuscript. I had done this a number of times, but I still became enthusiastic. Three months later, while watching the morning show, I scrolled through my phone, reading emails. I saw a note from BRP, and read they wanted to offer me a contract for Seven Days to Goodbye.
I lost my breath and handed the phone to my husband. He grinned and verified the email. “Yep. That’s what it says.”
Since I had writer friends who had signed with non-respectable publishing houses, I had a lawyer friend read the contract, and I researched the publishing house. They seemed to be legit, and I looked at their novels. They showed in every way to be a respected corporation. I have been more than pleased with my experience. I am thrilled to be a part of their organization, and I will complete my series with them.
Ally:  Not many writers I know truly enjoy the editing process, but it's a vital part of writing. How do you go about this task?
SL:  The first people to read my manuscript are my critique group. They see all of the changes and reread the drafts a thousand times. When I feel the story is ready, I send it to the publisher. She will read it, and ask for changes. Then I redo, and resend. Once I have the story to her liking, it goes to my editor. We go through the story three times, and when it has been polished, the publisher rereads and maybe the assistant publisher.
Once it has been approved, I get a date about its launch.
I was thrilled when my sequel, Starting Over went to print, my publisher announced she planned to print it in hardback. After it came out in three forms, EBook, paperback and hardback, the publisher decided to do a hardback for Seven Days to Goodbye.
Ally: How do you choose names for your characters?
SL:  I call my first novel, my heart book. I used special names that meant a lot to me, and only those people know who they are. This is my way of thanking special people for being in my life.
Ally: There are all kinds of avenues open to writers. What made you select fiction?
SL:  When I started writing, I knew I wanted to share my experiences and my dogs. As a fictional novel, I could add fun elements and create new conflicts without embarrassing anyone. I love telling my friends and acquaintances, “Be careful of what you say or do in front of an author. You may be put in the story.”
Ally: A writer is always writing. What's next on your agenda?
SL:  I am busy writing the third sequel to the Trina Ryan novel series, For Keeps.  I am working quickly on my first draft. When I feel it is ready, I’ll send the story to the publisher. Then we’ll start all over again with revisions.
Ally: Try a few of these short answers questions...
  • a.) An author you’d love to take to lunch: I have read every novel Mary Alice Monroe has written. She writes about the beach, sea life, and friendships. My kind of things.
  • b.) manicure or pedicure: When I take time for pampering, it is for a pedicure. I love the leg massage, sitting in the vibrating chair, and unwinding.
  • c.) Do you believe in love at first sight? I do. I met my husband when I was fifteen and he was eighteen. We dated for two years and broke up. Then three years later, we bumped into each other while walking down the street. And we were married six months later and have been together since.
  • d.) The last book I read that made you laugh: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.
  • e.) A favorite song: Adele – Make You Feel My Love
  • f.) A guilty pleasure: Dark chocolate
Ally: You've been a terrific guest, Sheri. Good luck with your books. Before you go, tell us more about Trina's adventures.

SYNOPSIS of Book #1:
Seven Days to Goodbye is about loving a special service pup and knowing one day you must part.
After Trina’s beloved dog dies, she swears that she’ll never get another dog. Then she hears about service dogs, and learns that if she becomes a puppy raiser, she could train puppy after puppy and never worry about them dying.
But there is one catch: Eventually you do have to say goodbye. Her first service puppy, Sydney, must be returned to his kennel at the end of their week-long summer vacation. Saying goodbye to this special puppy is much tougher than she ever imagined.
Trina’s last week with Sydney is made even harder because of her newly strained relationship with her best friend, Sarah. Her friend has become so over-the-top boy crazy that she seems like a stranger. Sarah is determined that she and Trina must hang out with every boy at the beach. When a boy named Chase takes an interest in Trina and Sydney instead of Sarah, it puts an even bigger strain on their friendship.
It’s hard enough to deal with losing Sydney, but now Trina could also lose her best friend.

SYNOPSIS of Book #2:

Trina, a puppy raiser for service dogs, exchanges her first trained dog for an eight-week-old Labrador and learns the meaning of sacrifice.  She struggles to care for her puppy, perfect her riding skills, and work at the barn next door.
Adding to her weariness, a new troublesome girl, Morgan, boards her gorgeous thoroughbred, and expects everyone to cater to her needs, explodes into temper tantrums, and mistreats her willing horse. The barn’s cheerful environment slips away.
Tired of Morgan’s insults, Trina dares herself to uncover Morgan’s problem. What if she used her knowledge of changing a dog’s behavior on Morgan? Is she brave enough to try? Little by little, Trina gains Morgan’s trust. But will it last?
Trina, and her best friend, Sarah, wrestle on how to close the distance with their first-time boyfriends, Chase, and Peyton before the summer ends.  After their final reunion, the girls fear the inevitable. And as expected when school begins, phone calls diminish, jealousy erupts, and Trina attempts to ward off a new persistent admirer.
Guys!! How can they cause so much disruption in a girl’s life?
As Trina and Morgan’s explosive relationship shifts to friendship, the girls discover they are more alike than different. Trina gets pulled into Morgan’s family problems, and keeps secrets from her parents and Sarah. But her decisions cause Trina to suffer the consequences.
Morgan confronts her family problems and discovers her true desires. Morgan’s new goals influence Trina’s ambitions.  As painful as it is, Trina sets out to change her direction and tackle her own new dream.  

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