Thursday, April 25, 2013

Here's What's in the Works...

As promised, here's a sneak peek at the cover of my summer beach read, which is now underway. The progress so far is a little over 16,000 words into it, which is good considering I only started it in between editing FOREVER IN MY HEART.

GREETINGS FROM MY SANDY DREAMS is structured a  lot like CHAMPAGNE TASTE in that it's turning out to be a chick lit/romance fusion. Lots of differences, though, including the fact that this new one will be a full-length novel, not a novella. It's similar in that it is told in the first-person narrative as seen through the heroine Cherry Martinez's eyes, and in the third-person narrative through hero Grayson Kelly's POV.

More information to come later. For now, I'll just tell you this is a fun, wildly romantic book you'll enjoy under your beach umbrella or out in your backyard with a glass of sweet tea. This will not be one of my inspirational reads--it's more straight-up romance/chicklit--but it WILL be an uplifting, feel-good story. Looking forward to sharing this story will ya'll!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Smashwords Coupon--Get Yours Now!

Head on over to FOREVER IN YOUR HEART'S page on Smashwords and use the promo code DD24K for your free copy! This offer expires April 30, 2013.

In other news, I've been busy scribbling away on my summer release, so drop by this blog often for more info. Coming this week: A sneak peek at the cover of GREETINGS FROM MY SANDY DREAMS.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Soundtrack for a Book

FOREVER IN MY HEART is now available!

And this is funny, but I actually compiled its "soundtrack," songs that are mentioned in the book. Music often pops up in books, and certainly in mine. Speaking of which, this new novel contains no less than FOUR musicians, not including the Maranatha Assembly of God Choir. Because this is inspirational fiction, many of the songs are Christian, with some secular songs that belong to that era of the mid- to late 1960s, with a little of the '50s mixed in. The secular songs usually somehow apply to the character/scene and belong to the era.

I thought it would be fun to include them here. One more note: It's interesting because Christian music has really evolved in these last few decades. In the 1960s, people mostly sang the traditional hymns, which really are timeless and beautiful. Today we still have them--but we also have Michael W. Smith, Third Day, Casting Crowds, MercyMe, Chris Tomlin and so many terrific other artists and groups. Enjoy!

Forever in My Heart Soundtrack (!)

"Secret Agent Man" (Johnny Rivers)
"Jean" (Donovan)
"My Girl" (The Temptations)
"O Happy Day" (many artists, though I listened to The Edwin Hawkins Singers for inspiration during that scene. I believe that's the same version that appears in the wonderful movie Secretariat)
"Here Comes the Bride" (traditional)
"Good Lovin'" (The Rascals)
"There is Power in the Blood" (traditional hymn)
"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" (traditional hymn)
"Just as I Am" (traditional hymn)
"This Little Light of Mine" (many artists)
"How Great Thou Art" (traditional hymn)
"You Belong to Me" (The Duprees)

Friday, April 12, 2013


Here's a peek into FOREVER IN MY HEART. I'll also be posting a different one on Goodreads soon.

Violet opened her eyes. The popular Temptations song had finished and now something else was playing, but she didn’t want to listen to it. She rose from her chair and headed to the water, wading in as far as her chest.
The lake water was at a perfect temperature. Not too cold but not too warm that it couldn’t refresh her, either. Drinking in a deep breath, she submerged herself completely, trying to forget the daydream that brought her so much joy and yet so much pain. After a few seconds, she emerged, letting out the breath she’d been holding in and taking in more breaths, cleansing and reviving. Now that she’d gotten completely wet, she swam out several feet into the deeper water and remained there, floating, until she’d had her full. Then she returned to her chair.
In her bag, along with a tube of suntan oil, a bottle of Patio orange soda, and a brush, she’d also stashed her Bible, a notebook and a pen.
Her notebook was her journal. In all her life, Violet Dunne had never kept a journal. With her past, what was worth recording? Particularly when it came to the sordid details of her life on the street?
But shortly after coming to the Lord, she began keeping a diary. So far, she’d filled two of them, and she was about a third of the way through this one. She preferred the steno pad-style notepad, the kind used by secretaries when taking dictation from their bosses.
She couldn’t remember her exact reason for keeping a journal in the first place. No one had told her to do it, though the handful of people she’d told—including Ruth, who’d encouraged her to continuing doing so. Deep down, it seemed that her purpose for doing it, both originally and at the present, was to keep track of her walk with the Lord God. When it became apparent that this was real, not just some emotional phase she was going through, she began recording what now was clearly a journey with her Savior that had brought her out a life that previously had been dark and without hope.
Lord, I don’t blame Suzanne. I was never much of a mother to her. My sister is her real mother. I just gave birth to her. But You know that I’ve never, ever stopped thinking about her. She’s the only thing that was every worth anything in my life, besides You. I know that I’m asking for a lot, and I know I don’t deserve it, because all I really deserve is for her to treat me like a stranger for the rest of my life. But please, Jesus. Please let her forgive me. Please soften her heart so that
“Ahhh, I see that Ruth Gordon has some influence on you, Miss Dunne!”
Even before looking up, she recognized the voice, which had come from only a few feet away. As soon as she saw Dr. Wilkerson—or rather, Buck, as he’d asked her to call him—in the saddle of a beautiful horse, she felt like she’d had the wind knocked right out of her.
“The name is Violet…cowboy,” she said, sharing a carefree laugh with him. “And I wish I could write like that lady. Ruth’s my favorite writer.”
“Is she, Violet?” He said her name as if trying it on. She had to admit, it rolled so pleasingly on his tongue.
“Well, I’m making myself sound like such a studious person.” She laughed again and self-consciously closed her notepad. “It’s not like I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve started to, though. And I’ve read all of Ruth’s. They may be kids’ books, but she’s still my favorite writer.”
“I don’t know about studious, but you’re a pretty intelligent lady, Violet Dunne.”
She watched him dismount from that sleek horse. Since she’d lived in Larkspur Valley, she’d seen plenty of farmers. Henry Gordon, Ruth’s husband, was a farmer. Buck Wilkinson fit the image in her mind of a cowboy to a tee, as just as well as Gary Cooper ever could.
Make that Gary Cooper with a dash of Jimmy Stewart.
Sweet like Jimmy Stewart’s on-screen personality. Same deep, drawling, manly voice, too.
With the exception that, dressed in his jeans, a short-sleeved, checkered western shirt, a cowboy hat and worn boots, he was even better looking and more swoon-worthy than anything even Hollywood could come up with.
“How’s the water?” he asked.
“The water? Oh—it’s perfect.” Crazy her! Was she a schoolgirl now? That was a new one. “Not too hot, not too cold. You should go for a dip.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t think to bring my swimming trunks.”
He tipped his hat back on his head…cowboy-style. She almost forgot how to blink.
Plus, she suddenly felt self-conscious. He wasn’t leering at her, but he was a man, and a bachelor, to boot. The fact sure hadn’t escaped him that he was standing in front of a woman sitting there, wearing only a swimsuit.
There was a time when she’d had the kind of figure that drew the attention of men, and she would dress that figure with the intention of grabbing that attention. Now that she was older, Violet’s hips and waist weren’t as narrow as they’d once been. She knew there were women her age, in their forties, who still possessed the figure of a woman in her twenties; but she wasn’t one of them. She wasn’t fat or frumpy, but neither was her body as tight as it had once been.
Buck didn’t seem to notice. He was a gentleman, but for the briefest moment she was flattered, when she caught his gaze rake over her appreciatively.
“See, now, I knew you’d be here. I should’ve come prepared,” he told her. “Could’ve raced you to the other end and left you in the dust.”
“Oh, is that so?” She smiled. Violet recognized an attempt at flirtation when she saw one. “Next time, you come prepared. See how dusty you get.”
That comeback won a chuckle from him. “Eh, the lady’s making a threat, so maybe she’s the better swimmer.”
“Well, I don’t have many talents, not much I do well, but I swim like a fish in water.”
“So you’re telling me you’re a mermaid? Then I know not to be fool enough to try and race you.”
“That’s right!” she exclaimed. Then she rose to her feet. “Can I…is it okay if I say hi to Gypsy?”
“’Course. She’d like that. She’s a spoiled little girl. Loves all the attention she can get.”
“Awww. Well, gorgeous women are like that. And this lady is gorgeous.”
Buck watched her for a few moments, standing on the Morgan’s other side while Violet stroked her dark, silky mane and patted her long neck.
“She’s a sweet girl,” she remarked. “How are you enjoying your ride this afternoon?”
“Wonderful. It’s hot out, but wonderful. We’re about done. I don’t want Gypsy getting overheated. Say, uh, Violet…” Hesitantly, he cleared his throat. “You doing anything special tonight?”
Her blood quickened, yet she kept her attention riveted on the mare.
Say no. You’re so out of Dr. Cowboy’s league, sugar plum, it ain’t funny.
“What did you have in mind?” she asked against her better judgment.
“Dinner. Preferably cooked by someone else, like in a restaurant. Something with lots of bread and butter and dessert and conversation we can share.”
This would be a really good time to use the word “no.” Lord, help me say it. Lord, why can’t I say it right now?
“I love bread with butter,” she murmured, stalling.
“I do, too. Almost as much as cheese with crackers.”
“Oh, no, I can make a meal out of cheese and crackers!”
“Now I would’ve thought a mermaid like you would say lobster. Or shrimp. Or some other sea-dwelling creature. So…”
He took a step closer to her. Too close. Enough to make her heart race in a way Violet hadn’t thought possible for such a long time.
“What do you say? Will you have dinner with me, my lovely mermaid?”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Some Background on My New Book

Something that I love about writing (well, I love everything about writing, except those aggravating times when you’re staring at a blank screen with a cursor flashing incessantly at you) is that no two books are ever the same. Not even your experience while writing is the same.

By now it’s pretty clear that I’m an author of mostly stand-alone novels/novellas/short stories. Book series are something I don’t do as often. A series is a commitment. Your readers may or may not read the whole series, but you, as the author, are going to be in that town with your books’ “people” for months, maybe even longer.

Throughout my career I’ve only created two series. Well, three, now that I think about it. The first published series, which I wrote as Consuelo Vazquez for Kensington’s Encanto line, about three Cuban-Dominican sisters. The second, and most recent, published series is The Larkspur Valley Series (with Book 3 waiting in the wings).

Just for fun: There was also a third (and unpublished) series, The Ladies. Targeted to a middle-grade audience, that was a fun little series about a group of kids who form an all-girl singing group. Back then, as a new—and green—unpubbed author, I thought I had to have a series all set and ready to go, so we’re looking at about 8 books that I wrote for the series. That's a whole lotta writing that never saw the light of day.

Lord knows, it came thisclose a few times, including with Simon & Schuster. With The Babysitters Club at the height of its popularity, no publisher wanted to take the chance on an unknown series or author. That was how it was in the “dark ages” of publishing, when authors were basically at the mercy of publishers. They called all the shots. Yay for today! Unfortunately, I’ve since lost all of The Ladies books, both the hard copies and the MultiMate files (yes, it goes back that far!).

But who knows? Maybe I’ll revive and rewrite it in the future…as a much shorter series this time.
Ah, but all that was then, and this is now. The Larkspur Valley Series has seen the light of day, I’m happy to say. That said, both More Than Sparrows and The Christmas Waltz were books that seemed to write themselves. Forever in My Heart was a harder book to write.

The thing is, even though it was tough getting through that first draft, it was also challenging and rewarding as a writer. As we all know, characters make the story. There comes a point, almost instantly, where it’s evident that the characters are in the driver’s seat and the author is their first passenger.

That was the case with me, for sure. Book 3 sees the return of familiar characters, one in particular who experiences both loss and growth as a person and in his Christian walk in this book. There are new characters, too, including Kyle and Lauren Jamison. Kyle is a complicated man. Besides having some secrets that bring intrigue to the book and a painful childhood, he struggles with issues pertaining to faith.

Through his wife Lauren’s eyes, we get a peek into the mindset of a “trophy wife” (though I don’t believe that term was used, at least not widely, in the 1960s when the book takes place). Lauren is a few years younger than her husband; she’s attractive and absolutely loves miniskirts and other sexy clothing. Otherwise, she is a traditional homemaker. Lauren also deals with her own self-worth issues.

I didn’t really expect her to become a favorite character of mine in the book, but during the course of writing her story she did. I loved her vulnerability and, by contrast, her strength, and the love she and her imperfect husband had for each other. Especially, I liked her childlike faith in her Savior.

There was one more surprise character. He’s not seen very much, yet he had an important role. I liked him so much, that young guy almost got his own book! Because, after all, I couldn’t close out an inspirational series set in the 1960s without touching upon what became known as “The Jesus Movement.” Chris Lampier seemed like a character with so much yet to be said about him. Where would he have been in the 1970s? Or now?

But with Forever in My Heart, this series is concluded. However, who knows? That’s one of the wonderful things about being an indie author/publisher. Since I hold all the rights, I own all the characters. Maybe, in the future, we’ll catch up with Chris and see where his walk with the Lord eventually took him.

So that is some background on the last book of my mainstream inspirational series. As I said, it was a challenge, but it was also rewarding. It’s my hope that it will also be rewarding, as well as a blessing, to readers.

And now that the editing process is underway, I can announce that Forever in My Heart will be released on April 19. Before then, I’ll have an excerpt up on this blog. A little something to stir up your curiosity and interest!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Character Interview with Violet Dunne

Meet Violet Dunne, one of the new characters from Book Three of The Larkspur Valley Series. Now that her book will be released this month and the dust has settled, Violet graciously dropped by for a visit.

So it's my pleasure to introduce Violet, one of the stars of Forever in My Heart...

VIOLET (laughing): Thanks, but I'm not a star! I'm just a regular gal.

CK: Ah, you're modest. How do you like visiting the year 2013? Especially because your story takes place in 1966?

VIOLET: It's incredible! I can't believe everybody has their own computer now. And you don't need to hunt down change for a public phone when you're out because everybody carries their phone with them at all times? That's so Twilight Zone.

CK: It is amazing how much things have changed. I agree. I was 6 during the year your story is set.  Without giving too much away, where are you from?

VIOLET: Originally from New York. And like you said, without giving too much away, I moved out to Pennsylvania to be close to family. I also wanted a complete break from the life I'd been living for years.

CK: Did you find that in Larkspur Valley?

VIOLET (smiling): I did. But it wasn't easy. Through a lot of the story, I spent a lot of time--well, they'll have to wait and see.

CK: You also meet someone in this book. He's a new character, too, right?

VIOLET: That's Buck. Yes, He's new to the readers because he wasn't in More Than Sparrows or The Christmas Waltz, but he's lived in Larkspur Valley for a long time. He's my honey.

CK (laughs): He's a doctor? Or he's a cowboy?

VIOLET: Both. Actually, he's not a cowboy, per se, but he does own a horse and he goes riding often. I call him a cowboy. He always makes time for me, even if he is pretty busy busy with his appointments and making house calls--

CK: Which doctors don't do anymore, but Dr. Charles Wilkinson (Buck is his nickname, I believe), like doctors back then, does them.

VIOLET: That's right.

CK: Hey, who's on the cover of the book? There's a bride and a groom kissing on there, but there are a lot of people in Forever in My Heart.

VIOLET: There is a wedding that takes place. Wait and see.

CK: Aha! You catch on quick.

VIOLET: I try! There are more newcomers and a few familiar faces from the earlier books. Plus you get to find out about that harp Timothy saw in More Than Sparrows.

CK: Cool. Does Cynthia Truesdale, the town gossip, show up in the story? Because she makes appearances in both of the first two books.

VIOLET: Yep, she's there. Troublemaker!

CK: Every book needs one of those! (laughs) Lots of drama, too.

VIOLET: Yes, lots of drama. Where there are secrets, there's bound to be drama.

CK: Well, I hope the readers enjoy this one.

VIOLET: Me, too.

CK: And thank you for stopping by.

VIOLET: My pleasure, hon.

CK: The book is Forever in My Heart, the final book of the 3-book Larkspur Valley Series. Come meet Violet Dunne, her honey the doctor-slash-cowboy, some old friends from the first two books, and all the people in Larkspur Valley, PA!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vintage (Earliest Works)

Recently, I was asked by a reader for a list of my books. Great idea, and I guess it's overdue! I'll add my more recent books to my next post, but here in chronological order (well, more or less) are my earlier works. Please note that the first two are geared toward a Young Adult audience, with the second one being a YA romantic comedy featuring some mischievous teenaged vampires. The books released by Kensington's Encanto line are all written under my pseudonym of Consuelo Vazquez and, just FYI, are more sensuous than most of my later works. Sea Siren was recently re-edited and re-released by me with its new cover, which you'll find below. Please note that the romances range in "heat" from sweet to sensuous, and unless they're listed out of print can be purchased through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

One more note: There's also a paranormal novella, "The Prince of the Forest," which was published in Melange Books' Strange Desires, and an early romance novel, Baby, It's You, which has been out of print forever. Actually, to my knowledge, the book was contracted but never actually published and the publisher is no longer in business. Fascination is a sweet romance that can be purchased directly from Awe-Struck Publishing at this specific link.

More notes: And Then Came You was a nominee for the 1999 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards...Salsa Kiss, one of the Encanto line's first titles, was chosen to be serialized on Cop & the Mermaid is my longest novel, so if you want a big, fat, juicy read about a mermaid, pack it with your flip-flops and sunscreen and bring it along to the beach!