An Interview with Donna Simonetta, author of A SWEETER SPOT

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I’m excited to have my fellow author and dear friend, Donna Simonetta, here with me today.  Book One of her Rivers Bend Trilogy, A Sweeter Spot, is currently on sale for 99 cents!  And beginning on June 8, the second in the series, Love Is Lovelier, will also be on sale, so snap these up while you can!

Welcome, Donna.  Let’s get this interview started!

At what age did you write your first story?
I don’t actually remember how old I was. I’ve always loved books and stories, and do remember going to the library as a child, and looking in the stacks to see where my books would go. Ironically, I became BOTH a librarian and an author.

I never became a full-fledged librarian, but I worked in a library for a while, too! Which genre was the first to hook you?
Mystery. As a kid, I loved Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Donna Parker…and then grew into Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. As a teen, I began to read romance too. Working in a boys middle school library for 17 years, I developed a love for fantasy fiction as an adult. I really am a genre fiction lover!

Ooh…Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. Love them! What was your first published book?
Angels Fly, from the Wild Rose Press. It was not the first book I wrote, but it IS the first I had published. Combining contemporary romance with fantasy elements, I have a major soft spot for it!

What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Brainstorming? Research? Outlining? Writing? Editing?
The actual writing. When it’s flowing…there is nothing like it! Although, the librarian in me does enjoy the research too.

What are you working on now?
I’m in the editing stage of Book 3 of the Rivers Bend Trilogy, Jason and Lily’s story of opposites attracting. I need to polish it up, and then submit it to my publisher. Fingers crossed! And I just finished reviewing the audiobook of Angels Fly…my first book going to audio! It sounds great, and I’m so excited to share it with all of you!

Wonderful! Congratulations! Of all the settings you’ve used (or created!) for your books, which is your favorite? Why?
Angels Fly is set in San Diego, and a self-avowed winter hater, (Sorry, Judy! I know this is an area upon which we disagree! Teehee!) I love the Forever Summer climate there.

I know you love the heat! Growing up in Florida, I had my “Forever Summer”; now I relish four seasons. Speaking of “forever,” if you could have a conversation with anyone—dead or alive—who would it be?
Hmm…this is an interesting questions. Personally, I would love the chance to talk to my late father one more time. He passed away too soon, and never saw my happy marriage, or me become a published author. I would also love to ask Agatha Christie where she was when she disappeared for that short time in her youth. I do love a mystery!

Yes, I’d love to learn where she was during that period, too! If you could step inside any book or series and live there for a week, which would you choose? I’m torn between Nancy Drew or the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters. I would love the chance to solve a mystery with Nancy, Bess, and George! But, the setting of an archeological expedition in Egypt during the height of all those exciting discoveries, makes me want to spend a week on a dig with Amelia and Emerson.

I love your choices!  They would be mine as well, and you’re right:  it’s hard to choose between Nancy and her friends and Peabody and Emerson! If a fairy godmother appeared and offered you one thing—anything at all—what would you request? A home on the beach, where Leo and I could live, and I could write.

Sounds perfect for the two of you! Now, it’s time to learn some of your favorites!

Sound: Beach sounds. Waves gently rolling in to shore.

Eye color: Brown, like my Leo.

Song: I like lots of different music. Don’t really have one favorite song. Maybe Joni Mitchell’s Carey. I really enjoy belting out that one in the car when I listen to it.

Book: Hmm…I don’t think I can choose just one!

Movie: Bringing Up Baby. An oldie, but a goodie.

TV show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Cuisine: Italian

Cookie: Chocolate chip

US location: The Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete Beach, FL. A big, pink Moorish palace on a white sand Gulf beach. Just lovely! My happy place.

Foreign location: My best friend lives in Ireland, and I love the chance to get to spend time with her and her family, so I’d have to say West Cork, for personal reasons! But, for geography, probably a beach in the Caribbean somewhere…like Antigua, where Leo & I spent our honeymoon.

And finally, list your preference from the following choices:

Tea or coffee? Coffee

Cake or pie? Cake

Halloween or Christmas? Christmas

Nancy Drew or Sherlock Holmes? Nancy Drew (although I love both!)

Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters? Jane Austen

A mortal, vampire, ghost, or fae for a lover? Mortal—the others have too much baggage.

English gent, Scottish highlander, European count, or all-American guy? All-American guy

Thanks so much for joining me today, Donna.  Now, here’s a little about A Sweeter Spot:

Magda knows a 28-year-old shouldn’t run away from home, but Rivers Bend is the ideal escape. Helping out her best friend will get her away from her uber-wealthy, controlling grandmother and duplicitous ex. She doesn’t expect the quirky little town to feel so much like home. Add in hotter-than-the-sun Jeff and his daughter, and leaving seems as unthinkable as it is inevitable.

Raising Sam alone, Jeff knew he wanted her to grow up in his supportive hometown. The arrival of a feisty new tenant sends Jeff’s world spinning. Magda fills a void in his life that he’d like to make permanent.

Will love triumph over the most powerful woman in the country, and can they figure out how to make this happy-for-now in Rivers Bend into their happy-ever-after?

And here’s a peek inside the pages:

“Being cheated on is no fun. It happened to me once. Up here,” he tapped his forehead. “You know it’s not your fault. But here,” he tapped his chest over his heart. “You feel like it has to be your fault – like you could’ve done something to prevent it. But you couldn’t have. It’s all on him, Maggie. Not you.”

She picked a dandelion, whose flower had turned into a puffball, and blew on it, scattering the fluff to the wind. “Maybe. Maybe not. But thanks for the support.”

She pushed to her feet and took a couple of steps toward the river. Jeff rose and followed.

How could he be so angry at a man he didn’t even know? How could this Pierce jerk have slept around on a woman like Maggie? And the prick had even made her doubt herself in the process. It was written all over her anguished face.

He stood behind her and gently kneaded her shoulders. He turned her to face him and cupped her face in his big hands.

“This Pierce guy is the biggest fool on earth to go to someone else when he had you at home, Maggie.”

She blinked away tears, and he felt his heart constrict. Before he could think it through and decide it was a really bad idea, Jeff dipped his head and captured Magda’s lips in a gentle kiss.

Buy links:

Amazon:
https://www.amzn.com/dp/B01N1S1K06/

TWRP:
http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/4862-a-sweeter-spot.html

Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-sweeter-spot-donna-simonetta/1125338511?ean=2940157374921

A bit more about Donna, in her own words:

My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

Where to find her:

https://www.facebook.com/donnasimonettaauthor

https://twitter.com/donna_simonettahttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15422407.Donna_Simonetta

https://www.amazon.com/Donna-Simonetta/e/B06X415TWW/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/donna-simonetta

Medieval Romance ~ an excerpt from FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN

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For those of you missing Medieval Monday, here’s another excerpt from the first of The Novels of Ravenwood.  Enjoy!

William stood before the cold hearth with his back to the door. His commanding presence diminished the sweeping arch of the vacant fireplace.

“Leave us,” he ordered without turning. “Shut the door behind you.”

The heavy, oak door slammed shut. The stone walls reverberated from the force of it.

Emma studied the sheen of his straight, black hair, the proud set of his shoulders, and the wide, leather belt which cinched his ebony tunic at the waist. An eternity might’ve passed while she waited for him to acknowledge her presence. When at last he turned, his dark eyes blazed.

Her stomach lurched. “Y-you wished to see me?”

He glowered at her in silence. A chill of foreboding ran through her, but she stood her ground.

A full minute later, he still hadn’t spoken. Her patience waned. If he expected her to read his mind, he could think again.

She cleared her throat. “You obviously need time to collect your thoughts, so I’ll leave you to them.”

“You will stay right here,” he ruled in slow, measured words. His scorching gaze belied his smooth tone of voice. “I sent for you to discuss your betrayal.”

She swore under her breath. Someone must’ve divulged her plan to stay celibate. If only she’d told him sooner.

“I can explain,” she said.

“Save your breath. There’s only one explanation.”

“You said ‘discuss.’ A discussion requires two opinions.”

“An opinion laced with lies doesn’t count.”

“But if you—”

“Silence!”

His shout echoed off the prison walls. Her stomach churned, but she clamped her lips shut.

“Now,” he said, lower in pitch, “listen and learn. A traitor can challenge the king’s reach, but only a fool underestimates mine. My men know this. Legions of Saracens—alive and dead—know it. Wulfstan will know it too.”

“What has Wulfstan to do with this?”

William grunted. “You play innocence well.”

“Truly, I know not whereof you speak!”

“I speak of your escape…tonight…with Wulfstan.”

“What?”

“My squire was in the mews while you were plotting your little scheme.”

“Holy Mother!” Frantically, her mind snatched up the pieces of what was said and where. “’Twas Gertrude’s idea.”

“A welcome one, reportedly.”

“I considered it, but—”

“So you confess.”

“No! Your spy heard but part of the conversation. In the end, I chose you.”

He snorted. “Right. And I sell genuine relics of the saints.”

She glared at him. With quick, deliberate steps, she closed the space between them.

“Then I’ll fetch my purse, for I speak the truth.”

“I am no fool.”

No, she thought, but you’re a veritable god of arrogance.

A lord of intimidation, too. Why else would he summon her to the prison tower? With dispatch, her desire to explain the curse, and its implications to their wedding night, died.

For an instant so brief she might’ve imagined it, his expression changed. He looked almost…wounded.

“Does the thought of marrying me so disgust you?” he asked.

His dark, infinite eyes became her world. “Not at all.”

Large, warm hands clasped her upper arms. “Is Wulfstan your lover?”

“No.”

“Liar.”

“Tyrant.”

His mouth claimed hers. She wrenched her head to the side, tried to break away. His grip tightened. His lips demanded more.

Emma thought fast. She couldn’t match his physical strength. But maybe, if she didn’t resist, didn’t react in any way, he’d release her.

She willed herself to relax. Almost at once, his lips slackened. They became softer, gentler. Intrigued, she relaxed further.

His lips brushed hers and left a tingling warmth in their wake. She liked the sensation, but the longer he fed it, the more she wanted the full pressure of his mouth. A low sound of protest vibrated deep in her throat.

William moaned, and his hot tongue nudged her closed lips. A curious action. Not unpleasant, though, so she opened her mouth. His tongue slipped inside and began a slow, thorough exploration. In response, she flicked her tongue against his.

He groaned. The sound was raw, exciting. His hands burned a path from her arms down to her hips. His tongue darted deeper, faster. Her mouth tingled. Heat tantalized her belly. Never had she felt so alive.

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt! Here’s a little more about the book:

How eager would the bridegroom be if he knew he could never bed the bride?

Lady Emma of Ravenwood Keep is prepared to give Sir William l’Orage land, wealth, and her hand in marriage. But her virginity? Not unless he loves her. The curse that claimed her mother is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. Emma is determined to dodge the curse. Then William arrives, brandishing raw sensuality which dares her to explore her own.

William the Storm isn’t a man to be gainsaid. He’ll give her protection, loyalty, and as much tenderness as he can muster. But malignant memories quell the mere thought of love. To him, the curse is codswallop. He plans a seduction to breach Emma’s fears and raze her objections. What follows is a test of wills and an affirmation of the power of love.

If you feel the urge to buy, here are the links:

Amazon http://buff.ly/2eRAwRW

Barnes and Noble http://buff.ly/2eWWIx3

The Wild Rose Press http://buff.ly/2eRuYXX

Happy Monday, everyone!

N. N. Light’s Beach Blanket Book Giveaway

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Summertime is just around the corner! Before you head out to the pool or beach to catch some sunshine, check out this amazing giveaway hosted by N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. Win bestselling and award-winning books, not to mention a tote bag filled with goodies, perfect for heading to the beach. My third medieval romance, Shadow of the Swan, is part of the giveaway.

Enter to win below.  Good luck, everyone!

Beach Blanket Book Giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775014/?

Literary Giveaway Portal: https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/literary-giveaway-portal

GUARDIANS OF ERIN ~ Sequel and Audiobook News!

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Sequel news!  I’ve contracted The Stone Awakened, Book 2 in my Guardians of Erin young adult paranormal fantasy series.

If you enjoyed The Cauldron Stirred (Book 1), stay tuned!  If you haven’t read it yet, check it out.  Here are some buy links:

Amazon https://amzn.com/B072C1CG5D

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-cauldron-stirred-judith-sterling/1126456384?ean=2940157486389

The Wild Rose Press https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/5134-the-cauldron-stirred.html?search_query=the+cauldron+stirred&results=2

iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-cauldron-stirred/id1241591247

And in other news, The Cauldron Stirred will soon be available as an audiobook!  More on that and The Stone Awakened as things move forward.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!  🙂

 

Medieval Romance ~ an excerpt from FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN

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Just in case you’re suffering withdrawal symptoms while Medieval Monday is on hiatus, here’s an excerpt from the book that started it all…Flight of the Raven, the first of The Novels of Ravenwood:

For a long moment, Emma stared into William’s eyes. Then she cleared her throat and whirled around to face her worktable. His gaze burned a trail of desire down her back, following her two long braids to the provocative curves where they stopped.

God’s teeth, he cursed inwardly. How shall I wait until tomorrow night?

Battling his instincts, he claimed a space beside her at the table’s edge. He watched intently as she placed a handful of leaves in a mortar.

“So this is your work,” he said.

“Aye.” Her gaze was fixed on the task. “The people depend on me, and I’m happy to serve.”

She wrapped her delicate fingers around a thick, stone pestle. The action did nothing to ease his condition. He had to make conversation, or he’d have his bride on the table faster than a Turk wielded a scimitar.

He pointed to the small pile of red berries beside a cluster of twigs. “What are those?”

“Hawthorn branches and their fruit. You’ve probably tasted the berries in jellies and sauces, but a powder made from the seeds is good for the heart. Don’t expect to see the blossoms in any of the local cottages, though. ‘Tis bad luck, I’m told.” Her wide grin proved she didn’t share the belief.

He couldn’t help grinning back. “I didn’t recognize the plant, but I’ve heard the legends. The ancient Greeks and Romans thought it protected them from evil spirits.”

“Ah, so you listen to legends too. I thought you only made them.”

He didn’t know whether to laugh or take offense, but at least his blood had cooled. His gaze dropped to the leaves she bruised in the mortar. “What’s that there?”

“Mandrake. It can be deadly, but in moderation, it makes a soothing ointment. ‘Tis likewise a stimulant.”

“How so?” He pretended ignorance. This plant had inspired its own tales.

“It encourages the act of—“ she broke off and looked at him. Her amethyst eyes were large, hypnotic.

A new shaft of desire sliced through him. “What does it encourage?”

She opened her mouth, but no sound escaped.

He lowered his gaze to her full, sensual lips. Their natural shade was a deep pink. Almost purple. The upper lip was unusually plump, as ripe and tempting as its counterpart.

In a hushed voice, he continued, “You were saying…”

“I was?”

“You were. Mandrake encourages…”

“Passion.”

He inched toward her. He would kiss her, teach her the meaning of the word.

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt!  Here’s a little more about the book:

How eager would the bridegroom be if he knew he could never bed the bride?

Lady Emma of Ravenwood Keep is prepared to give Sir William l’Orage land, wealth, and her hand in marriage. But her virginity? Not unless he loves her. The curse that claimed her mother is clear: unless a Ravenwood heir is conceived in love, the mother will die in childbirth. Emma is determined to dodge the curse. Then William arrives, brandishing raw sensuality which dares her to explore her own.

William the Storm isn’t a man to be gainsaid. He’ll give her protection, loyalty, and as much tenderness as he can muster. But malignant memories quell the mere thought of love. To him, the curse is codswallop. He plans a seduction to breach Emma’s fears and raze her objections. What follows is a test of wills and an affirmation of the power of love.

If you feel the urge to buy, here are the links:

Amazon http://buff.ly/2eRAwRW

Barnes and Noble http://buff.ly/2eWWIx3

The Wild Rose Press http://buff.ly/2eRuYXX

Happy Monday, everyone!

Five-star Review by N. N. Light’s Book Heaven ~ THE CAULDRON STIRRED

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I just read a wonderful review of The Cauldron Stirred over on N. N. Light’s Book Heaven.  I’m beyond grateful for it!  And remember, there’s still time to comment on my previous blog post for a chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Here’s the link to the review:  https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/single-post/2018/05/14/The-Cauldron-Stirred-Guardians-of-Erin-Book-One-by-Judith-Sterling-and-WildRosePress-bookreview-paranormal-fantasy-Ireland-YAlit

Happy Monday, everyone!  🙂

 

Mother’s Day Giveaway

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Happy Mother’s Day to all my fellow moms out there!  Hope you’re enjoying a day as relaxing as the scene in the painting above!

I’m giving away an e-copy of The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in my young adult paranormal fantasy series, Guardians of Erin.  Comment below or on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/judithsterlingfiction/ by midnight, May 15, 2018 (Eastern Standard Time), and you could win!

In the meantime, here’s a scene from the book in which Maeve Donoghue (the protagonist Ashling’s mother) witnesses a touch of magic while looking at an ancient manuscript’s carpet page:

I gestured toward the manuscript on the table. “It’s incredible. Look at how interlocked the animals are.”

Mom nodded. “Some of them are so contorted, it’s hard to tell what they are. But that’s typical of the beasts in Celtic manuscripts.”

I pointed. “These look like swans. But what’s this?”

“A wolf.” Aengus’s arm brushed against mine as he, too, pointed.

All of a sudden, the carpet page came to life. The entire illustration lifted off the page, morphing into 3D. Ribbons of knotwork and scrollwork wove in and out of one another. Animals whose necks and limbs had once been linked now split apart. The wolves leapt over the shifting image and crept beneath cords that undulated like waves on the ocean. The swans glided across the loosened lines as though navigating ripples on a lake. In the center of it all, a multitude of colored bands broke free and rose higher than the rest, twisting and turning into the shape of letters which hovered above the whole: A-I-S-L-I-N-G.

I gaped at the word. Mom’s hand, still on my back, went rigid.

Her hand dropped to her side. “What the…” Words failed her.

Aengus yanked his arm from mine as though scalded. He stepped back from the table and from me.

Like magic, the page’s three-dimensional version vanished. Its flat counterpart lay as lifeless as before.

Mom blinked hard and shook her head as if to clear it. “Either I need glasses or I’ve been at this too long. Sorry, but I need a break. You two carry on without me.” She scuttled out of the room.

I pivoted around to face Aengus. “Did you see something strange?”

His eyes narrowed. “Did you?”

“You know I did.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

I pursed my lips. “I think you do. I’d be willing to bet that you and my mom saw exactly what I just did.”

“Which was?”

“That whole page was alive. And the word ‘aisling’ stood out as plain as the nose on your face.”

He nodded and appeared to be deep in thought.

After a good ten seconds, I planted my hands on my hips. “Well?”

His gaze found mine. “Well what?”

“You saw it, right?”

He hesitated, then sighed. “I did, but I’ve no time to discuss it now.”

“When then?”

“I couldn’t say.” His eyes shifted, and he looked to the nearest window. “I’ve matters to attend to.” Without another word, he turned and left the room.

I stamped my foot. Secrets. Diversions. Dreams I couldn’t remember. Feelings I couldn’t explain.

I’d had my fill. One way or another, I would uncover what was really going on at Breasal Manor and inside myself.

Again, happy Mother’s Day!  And check out this amazing carpet page from the Book of Kells:

 

Medieval Monday Winner!

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A big thanks to everyone who followed along with our “Author’s Choice” theme for this round of Medieval Monday.  I enjoyed hosting my fellow authors and loved the comments many of you left about my snippets.  My winner, Lori Dykes, already has her copy of Shadow of the Swan.  Happy reading, Lori!  And happy Monday to all my followers.  Look for Medieval Monday to return soon!

N. N. Light’s Bookaholics Unite Giveaway

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Raise your hand if you’re a bookaholic! I sure am, and this month N. N. Light is giving away everything a booklover could want: books and bookish prizes. In fact, I’m one of the authors participating and you could win an e-copy of my medieval romance, Soul of the Wolf, the second of The Novels of Ravenwood.

The list of prizes is long, and while I’d love to win myself, I can’t. So, I’ll just hope you’ll win instead.  Here are the links:

Bookaholics Unite Giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775012

Literary Giveaway Portal: https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/literary-giveaway-portal

Good luck, everyone!