Friday, April 28, 2017

Midnight Sisters: Meet the Ladies I

Each of Lord Bromhurst's twelve daughters has her own chapter in Midnight Sisters. However, that's barely enough to express who she is or to explain the unique role she fills in her family.

That's why I crafted mini scenes featuring each of the main characters for Midnight Sisters' blog tour. Each scene reveals something new about each of the three of the sisters. Today, Ladies Ariela, Brisella, and Canela are on display.
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Lady Ariela
I clutched her hand between mine and blinked to hold back the tears. She shifted on her pillows, a tiny sigh escaping. The angel smile lit her face but pain nestled in the fine wrinkles about her eyes.

“Ari.” The word was barely more than a breath. “I’m so sorry, my darling. I wish I could stay.”

I bit my lip to hold the sob in. She reached a shaking hand out to tuck an errant lock of hair behind my ear.

“But you are stronger than you think.” She cupped my chin in her palm and stroked a cool finger over my cheek.

A fat tear squeezed out and trickled down my cheek. She wiped it away.

“You are strong enough for your sisters and your father, my dear.”

A deluge of tears poured down my face. I choked out the words, “I can’t do it without you.”

Pain dragged at her features as she leaned forward to place a kiss on my forehead. Her lips were cool against my brow. “You have a strong heart, Ari. Follow its call. It will not lead you amiss.”

She sank back into her pillows and her eyelids flitted shut. The angel expression settled over her face, banishing any hint of pain. The grip on my hand faltered.

“Mother . . .” The word, laced with sorrow, fell from my lips. With Father already grieving her loss and twelve daughters, the youngest still an infant, how would we survive without her?


* * *
Lady Brisella
The carriage drew up the drive, pulling to a stop in front of the entryway. My father’s chest puffed out the way it always did when someone of higher rank appeared. I had seen it before. The “parade of noblemen” as Ari referred to it, had begun in my teenage years. It had been exciting and wonderful to meet gentlemen who’d come with the express purpose of wooing. It took far too long to realize that they hadn’t come to woo me. They wooed my father and the dowry attached to my name. Today would be no different.

The elderly gentlemen stepped out first, a broad smile spanning his round face. At least he seemed friendly.

Father’s voice boomed with pride. “Ladies, the Earl of Gillingham. Lord Gillingham, I present my daughters.”

His voice droned on. My attention snagged on the carriage as the next occupant stepped down. My breath hitched in my throat. Fine clothes hung on an even finer frame. Dark hair. Dark eyes. What was it about deep brown eyes that stripped me down to nothing? I forced all the air out of my lungs to dispel the warmth wrapping fingers around my heart.

“And this is my son, Lord Richard Comstock.” The Earl’s eyes crinkled. His son smiled, the same crinkles ringed his eyes and warmed his expression.

My heart thudded in my chest. Between Ariela, who overflowed with mystery and intellect, and Canela who overflowed with passion and charm, what hope did I have? He would never look at me.
Before I was ready, his hand closed over mine. A zing ran up my arm as he pressed a kiss to my hand. A tiny gasp slipped from my lips. Those brown eyes, reflecting the same surprise I felt, flicked up to my face. For two heartbeats we shared a look.

“A pleasure to meet you, Lady Brisella.” A crooked smile twisted his mouth.

My father hustled him along. Lord Richard watched me from the corner of his eye as he bent over the hand of my sister Canela.

“Are you all right?” Ariela whispered.

I watched Lord Richard’s progress down the line of my sisters. “I hardly know.”

“What happened?”

Nothing. Everything. I shook my head slowly. How could I explain what I didn’t understand?

She squeezed my arm until I looked at her. Her eyes brimmed with excitement. “It's him, isn't it?”

My gaze was drawn back to Lord Richard, who had nearly reached Frizella. He still watched me from the corner of his eye. The word slipped out in a whisper. “Yes.”
* * *
 Lady Canela
“Cinnamon,” my younger sister, Estella, whined. “You cheated! Again!”

I sniffed and tipped my chin upward. “It’s only cheating if you get caught.”

Estella shared a look with Frizella.

“Besides,” I continued, “it’s my game. I make the rules.” I flicked a red lock of hair over my shoulder.

Frizella shared a look with Estella. Together they said, “But you agreed to the bet.”

I pursed my lips. “Then naturally I’d do anything to win.”

“Including flirting with the stable boys,” Frizella accused.

“And bribing our ladies’ maids with sweets,” Estella added.

“It’s not my fault they’ve no loyalty to you.” I replied, examining my nails.

They turned identical glares on me. “You cheated,” they said in unison. “Now you owe us ribbon money.”

I don’t care what anyone said, it was creepy when they did that. “I owe you nothing. Johnny brought me flowers, didn’t he? Just like I said he would. I won the bet fair and square.”

“But he was our boyfriend!” they wailed.

I folded my arms over my chest. “It’s time you learn something, girls. If something belongs to you, you don’t let go of it. Ever.”

The sounds of blubbering began. “Now, if you don’t mind, I believe Johnny is waiting for me in the woods. Good afternoon, girls.”
* * *
Stay tuned to meet the next three sisters! Daniela, Estella, and Frizella are sure to get up to some type of mischief. 

For the whole story, grab your copy of Midnight Sisters on Amazon today. Contact me if you'd like a signed copy!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Featured: Take Two

Setting up a blog tour is a tricky business.

In doing so, a few things might happen.
  • Some bloggers are so popular that they won't fit into your blog tour schedule.
  • The format of your tour might not mesh with the style of some authors' websites or blogs. 
  • People you hadn't contacted previously will invite you to guest post for them as well.
If busy bloggers or stylistically different authors love you enough, they'll offer to feature you at a later date. Unless you're on your deathbed, agree to guest post with a BIG smile. If they suggest content that doesn't mesh with your style, do your research and find a way to make it your own.

That's where I've been since January. I've been a-guest posting! I've covered a number of different topics from humorous to serious, as well as earning a few more book reviews.

Winter through Spring I was hosted by:

PrairieWifeInHeels: 
Midnight Sisters, wherein PrairieWife invites me back to share Midnight Sisters with her readers as part of We Love Our Readers Month of Giveaways. (Don't worry, it's an annual event! They'll do giveaway month again next year!)

Sacha Black
5 Obnoxious Questions People Ask Writers, because non-writerly folks just don't get it. But we won't get offended, will we, my darlings? Nope. We'll get even.

Carol J. Hedges: 
10 Ways I'm Crazy Enough to be an Indie Author, where I reveal just how crazy I am and how it works in my favor in the indie publishing world. Certifiable and proud, my dears!

Getting Your Read On: 
Midnight Sisters, a lovely review of Midnight Sisters from book blogger Aimee. She was initially unsure about reading another version of Twelve Dancing Princesses, until she sank her teeth into this one! Here's to romance and quirky plots!

OTV Magazine: 
A Call to Arms. A Call to Love, explores the power of women, kindness and love in the battle for equality. Having a loud voice and a list of grievances isn't enough, we must work together effectively instead of assigning of blame.
* * *
During my blog tour, Midnight Sisters was accepted for review by Rosie Amber's Review Team. 

Author PicBarb Taub: Barb discusses the history of and universal appeal of fairy tales. Then she shares her thoughts about Midnight Sisters in a beautiful and thoughtful out review.

Shelley Wilson: Shelley, who is a fellow Young Adult author, discusses the ins and out of the characters and twists in Midnight Sisters and how much she enjoyed this original version of Twelve Dancing Sisters.

* * *
This Spring I was hosted by:

Denise Derrico: Explore my deepest author secrets (and a whole lot of nerdiness) along with author Denise Derrico.

Lisette's Writers' Chateau: Published authors have been lying to you for years. Want to know the Dirty Dark Secrets of publishing no one talks about? I'm spilling the beans!

* * *
There are some amazing posts in there! After last year, I feel like I'm finding my voice as a blogger. And guess what? I'm not done yet!

Coming soon:

On Writing & Wellness, I share my battle with carpal tunnel syndrome, severe allergies, and traditional publishing and how I came out the other side with improved health and another published book. Hear the full story on June 15, 2017.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Call to Arms. A Call to Love.

I believe in the power of good women united by common goals. 
I also believe in the power of kindness and love to reach those goals. Recently, Open Thought Vortex Magazine invited me to share my thoughts on feminism during Women's Empowerment Month. I was pleased to share the following:
* * *
Feminism gets a bad rap. The term has been twisted to convey something far different than its original definition:

1.  the theory of political, economic, & social equality of the sexes
2.  organized activity on behalf of women's rights & interests

Basic. Elegant. Yet somehow feminism has become associated with radical behavior, extremely liberal opinions, and pointing the finger of blame at men, politicians, society, etc.

I’m a 40-year-old woman from rural Utah who teaches kindergarten and writes Young Adult novels. I refuse to support action that harms, demeans, or degrades others whose sex, age, political views, or religion differ from mine. And since today’s predominant strategy for promoting women’s rights is shouting your grievances at the top of your lungs, I tend to distance myself from it. The kindergarten teacher in me can’t see the difference between that strategy and the kid who declares himself (or herself) King of the Jungle Gym and enforces his (or her) claim through a series of playground scuffles.

I’ve seen my fair share of intolerance. I live in a particularly diverse area in Northern Utah where there is often tension resulting from differing political standpoints, religious beliefs, and even warring gangs. Local Pastor Monica Hall stated, “[There is] a natural tendency to draw distinctions and define each other. Definitions such as: she is Muslim, he is black, she is Presbyterian, he is Latino, they are Mormon, etc. . . . Such definitions can draw boundaries of who WE are and who THEY are. These boundaries can be dangerous. They can be dangerous when we use the boundary of division to ignore human needs.”

That’s my main issue with feminism. When we paint ourselves as victims and everyone else as aggressors, there’s no one left to explore solutions to the common problems we face.

Actress Emma Watson had plenty to say on the subject. “If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are, we can be much freer.”

In my classroom alone, I encounter bias, misconceptions, and intolerance. Kids already have a lot of baggage by the time they step into my room.  I do my best to employ a practice that reaches hearts, souls, and minds. It’s called Love. Love and Listen.

If all we do is scream about the world’s injustices, nothing will ever change. But if we take on our noble role as women who lead, nurture, teach, inspire, and uplift, we can effect change.

Author Norah Ephron summed it up beautifully. “Above all, be the heroine of your own life.”

That’s what I want. That’s MY prime goal as a feminist, to be the best me I can be and to bring as many women, girls, mothers, and sisters along with me as possible.

Author Francesca Lia Block said, “Just like any woman . . . we weave our stories out of our bodies, some of us through our children, or our art; some do it just by living. It’s all the same.”

I effect change in my classroom and in my novels, with my students, friends, and family. I stand up for what I believe and I refuse to hide who I am. I am a woman and I am powerful. And I believe in the power of love and kindness.
* * *
Thanks for dropping by, my dears! If you'd like to read more women's empowerment, revisit The Making of a Woman or pop over to OTV Magazine and peruse the March 2017 posts. And please leave me your thoughts on womanhood and feminism in a comment below. Go forth and be awesome, my friends!