Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What Are You Reading? ~ March 22, 2017

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What are you Reading?  Let me know what your current read is, what you recently finish reading, and what you plan on reading next! 

Here's my list: 

I just started reading The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Beau North & Brooke West. I'm looking forward to getting into this one! 

I recently finished Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. This was good. Not as good as I was expecting, but good. I love the setting, a boarding school in Paris. Fun! 4/5 stars.

What's next? I think I'm going to read Alone by Scott Sigler.

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 

I'm linking up with This Week In Books hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found.

And with Sam @ Taking on a World of Words

So, tell me, what are you reading? 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Guest Post with Shannon Winslow ~ Leap of Faith & Leap of Hope ~ Interview & Giveaway!

Hello, Friends! I'm super excited to have author Shannon Winslow visiting here to today!

With five traditional JAFF books under her belt, Shannon has just released a pair of novels in a new, different, and innovative series called the Crossroads Collection. One of the two carries on the Jane Austen connection but, surprisingly enough, both involve time travel! I was curious to find out more about them, so I asked Shannon a few questions. 

Here’s our interview:


Welcome, Shannon! I have to say, you took me by surprise this time. Your past novels are all written in a very traditional Jane Austen style. That’s what you’re known for, and you do it well. So what made you try something different? Where did the idea for this new series come from?

Leap of Hope is brand new, but Leap of Faith actually is not. It’s the third novel I wrote, six or seven years ago now. While pursuing publication of The Darcys of Pemberley and For Myself Alone (my first two JAFF books), I considered what else I was interested in writing, just in case the whole Jane Austen thing didn’t catch on for me.

But your Jane Austen novels did catch on!

Yes, I’m glad to say they did! By then, though, I’d already written Leap of Faith. It’s been patiently awaiting its turn for publication ever since.

I’ve always been fascinated by turning points, alternate possibilities, and second chances (even going so far as to write an alternate outcome for Jane Austen herself in The Persuasion of Miss Jane Austen!). I think about how some seemingly insignificant decision or random accident that occurred years in the past might have changed the whole course of a person’s life. Don’t you sometimes wonder what would have happened if you’d turned right instead of left at a certain point, or maybe had been able to sidestep a particular disaster? That’s what I wanted to explore. So I invented the Crossroads Center, where they’re in the business of granting second chances.

So how does it work? How do your characters get their second chances and what are the rules? For example, I’ve been wondering if the characters remember anything of their past once they make the leap to their new lives?

Granting second chances was clearly going to require some sci-fi/fantasy slight of hand. More specifically, time travel – an entirely new challenge for me! I basically made the rules up as I went along. For the story’s sake, this has to happen, so what needs to be true to make it so? With the second book, I continued adding to the Crossroads’ world. Here are the basics, though.

At a crisis point, a person selected for a second chance is spirited away, brought to the Crossroads Center, and given three choices. That person can pass without further delay to the afterlife (but that would make a very short story!). He can return to his own life at whatever point in time he wants to make a change (Ben’s decision in Leap of Faith, attempting to revive his sidetracked dream of playing professional baseball). Or she can pick a different life entirely (Jane Austen fanatic Hope’s choice in Leap of Hope, opting for what she imagines will be a life like Lizzy Bennet’s in Regency England).

As for their memories of the past, it seemed to me that my time travelers shouldn’t be allowed to keep them forever. They needed to be able to fully commit to their new lives, since there was no going back. So, if they behave themselves, their old memories fade gradually and painlessly away. And then, of course, there’s the standard non-interference clause, as Hope finds out:

Cora, who didn’t seem to notice my distress, continued. “Oh, and if you’re going into the past, you must agree that you won’t use your knowledge of the future to change things. We can’t have you inventing the light bulb before its time or taking it upon yourself to revise history. Understand? Your progress will be monitored to mitigate any possibility of that. Everything will be explained in your contract when you get to that point.”
 No chance of me inventing the light bulb, I was thinking. I wouldn’t know the first step for how to go about it! The real question was could I learn to get along without using light bulbs? Or electricity of any kind. And although it wasn’t a subject Jane Austen wrote about one way or the other, I supposed indoor plumbing hadn’t been invented by the early nineteenth century either. Hmm.

Ben, unfortunately, broke the non-interference rule. As a result, his memories were stripped from him more suddenly and dramatically. Here are his thoughts about his second chance and what it will cost him:
Just when I thought I couldn’t go on, when I was at a point so low I had to look up to see outfield grass grow, I received a genuine, world-class do-over. Now I’m praying I still have time to salvage it. It came as a gift. No charge. And I appreciate how lucky I am. Except I’m discovering there is a kind of cost after all, which I’m belatedly paying.
 To be fair, I was forewarned. A year ago, I barely thought twice about exchanging my lackluster past for a chance at resurrecting my dream. But now that they’re at risk, I suddenly realize some memories from those discarded months and years are too precious to part with: the satisfaction of helping one of my students succeed, friendships with Jeff and the others at the Center, and most importantly, every mental picture of Abby from a time she knew and loved me. The thought of those treasures being sucked irretrievably down a black hole…
Well, I simply can’t let that happen.

Ooh, sounds interesting! Do you have a definite number of books planned for the Crossroads series?

Not really. The possibilities are endless, but since each book is complete in itself, I don’t have an overarching storyline I need to complete. I have no intention of abandoning JAFF either, so it will depend partly on reader interest how much time I spend working in one area or the other.

It’s nice that you plan to take reader interest into account. I’ve heard you’re also asking for reader feedback to help determine which secondary character should get the next book? Is that true?

Absolutely! That’s partly why Hope got her story written. She made a cameo appearance in Leap of Faith, as one of the people Ben meets at the Crossroads Center – a “fellow traveler.” I’d written her in from the beginning, just as a colorful character (and because I had to find a way to get Jane Austen’s name into the book!), with no thought for doing anything else with her at the time. But I changed my mind when I was looking for a way to bridge my JAFF readers to this new series, and then some of my beta readers started asking if Hope could please have the next story! So my intention is to pick the hero/heroine of the next book from the secondary character’s you’ve already met at Crossroads in the previous one, with the help of reader input.

That's awesome! By the way, I love the classic look of the covers. Where did that inspiration come from?

Thanks, Candy! I’m sort of in love with them myself! My nephew, Micah Hansen, is my cover designer, but I take a very active role in the process. It’s a true collaboration. I knew I wanted a completely different look for this collection – something more modern in tone with elements that carrying over from one book to the next. Beyond that, I intended each cover to convey as much as possible about the story inside, especially since I knew the titles alone wouldn’t do the job.

So with Leap of Faith, in addition to the clock motif (indicating time slip), I wanted people to recognize Seattle (where the majority of the story takes place) and baseball (the focus of Ben’s dream). Oh, and I figured a hunky guy couldn’t hurt!

Leap of Faith was more of a challenge. We’d repeat the clock motif, naturally, but how to convey the rest – the idea of a modern girl considering a life in Regency England. My first thought was to do a split screen look, with Hope’s left half in contemporary clothes with a modern setting and her right half in period costume against a Regency backdrop. When that proved too difficult, though, we went to plan B, which turned out so well that I can’t imagine I would have liked plan A any better! The framed picture is Chatsworth, and it’s so large that it looks as if Hope is considering stepping right through into the scene. If that idea comes through, then the cover is a success.

Speaking of success, I wish you all the best with this new venture, Shannon! Many thanks for dropping by today and thanks for the generous giveaway!


Leap of Faith: Second Chance at the Dream

At the Crossroads Center, they’re in the business of granting second chances. And their newest client is Ben Lewis, a former star athlete who never recovered from the death of his dream to make it big in the big leagues. Now he’s being offered the opportunity to return to 1991 and try again, this time without the illness that originally ended his baseball hopes. What’s the catch? He will pay for his second chance by forfeiting his memories of the first… and possibly along with them, the love of his life. Can he find his way home to the woman he’s long forgotten but never stopped missing? Or will reaching for the brass ring with both hands cause the treasure he once possessed to slip forever from his grasp?

Buy: Amazon  **Leap of Faith is enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited, so if you are a member you can read it for free!
Add to Goodreads.

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

Leap of Hope: Chance at an Austen Kind of Life

At the Crossroads Center, they’re in the business of granting second chances. And their newest client is Hope O’Neil – college student and Jane Austen devotee, who always believed she’d be more at home in Regency England, wearing corsets and courted by men in cravats. But can a modern girl really fit into a world with no electricity, cell phones, or indoor plumbing? Hope is about to find out when her wish for an Austen kind of life is unexpectedly granted. Although she envisions her second chance will be like something straight out of Pride and Prejudice – complete with her own Mr. Darcy and a romantic happy ending – she gets more than she bargained for in this delightful romp through Regency England… a lot more.

Buy: Amazon
Add to Goodreads.

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

Connect with Shannon Winslow

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! Shannon is generously giving away a pair signed paperbacks and a pair of e-copies of Leap of Faith and Leap of Hope to two lucky people!  

  • One person will win a signed copy of Leap of Faith and a signed copy of Leap of Hope. (Open to US mailing address only)
  • One person will win an e-copy of both Leap of Faith and Leap of Hope. (Open Internationally)
  • To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below and include your e-mail or twitter name. If you leave your email, please put parentheses around (at) and (dot).
  • Winners will be picked randomly by
  • Last day to enter the giveaway is March 27th, 2017, 11:59 PM Pacific Time.

Good luck! 

Again, many thanks to Shannon Winslow for being with us today and answering my questions! And for having a giveaway with me!

So, do you have any questions for Shannon? 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Guest Post with Lona Manning Author of 'A Contrary Wind' ~ Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hey, Everyone! It's my pleasure to have Lona Manning visiting here with us with her new book A Contrary Wind: A variation on Mansfield Park

What if Fanny Price, the meek and docile heroine of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, ran away from home? What if Fanny could no longer endure living with the Bertrams? What if she could not bear to watch Edmund fall in love with Mary Crawford?

Ooh! Fanny runs away from Mansfield Park! That sounds exciting! I don't know about you, but Mansfield Park is not my favorite of Austen's work. I think it would be very interesting to see a different spin on it. 

Here's a little excerpt with a short set up. Enjoy! 

In this excerpt, Fanny has just been humiliated in front of her cousins and their guests – Henry and Mary Crawford, Mr. Yates and Mr. Rushworth – because her aunt, Mrs. Norris, cruelly rebuked her for refusing to join in the proposed amateur theatricals. ("I am not going to urge her," replied Mrs. Norris sharply; "but I shall think her a very obstinate, ungrateful girl, if she does not do what her aunt and cousins wish her—very ungrateful, indeed, considering who and what she is.")

And Mary Crawford is feeling hurt because the man she likes, Edmund Bertram, also refuses to participate, even though acting in the play would give them the chance to play lovers. Her brother Henry has been flirting with both of the Bertram sisters, Maria and Julia, and has chosen Maria to play the part of Agatha in the play, so Julia is also miserable tonight.

* * *

     The carriage was summoned to convey the Crawfords back to their sister’s home. Edmund handed Miss Crawford in, and briefly made as though he might climb in beside her and accompany her to her own door, but her brother and a groomsman were sufficient escort and the lady herself was not welcoming. Edmund had angered Mary earlier that evening when, in a rather sententious tone, he pronounced that it was inappropriate for a clergyman (or soon-to-be clergyman in his case,) to portray one on the stage. But he was also turning down the opportunity to play the part of her lover. His indifference had wounded Mary’s pride and she was very far from being ready to forgive him, barely acknowledging his cordial adieux.

     “Well, sister,” remarked her brother in a low voice, as the carriage pulled out of Edmund’s hearing, “Perhaps we should make our excuses and go to Bath or London, rather than stay for this play-acting scheme. I think, for a party got up for pleasure, there were more long faces than happy ones at the Park tonight. Miss Julia spiteful, Bertram vexed with everyone, Edmund Bertram at his most insufferable, Miss Price near to fainting, and as for that aunt!”

     “Maria plays the tragic part but she was looking particularly well pleased tonight, a matter I will leave for now to you and your conscience.” Mary Crawford nodded meaningfully at her brother, who smiled, rather more gratified than abashed at the contemplation of the havoc he had wreaked in more than one female breast that evening.

     “True – I would regret leaving off such a fair opportunity to play the tragic hero. To be authorized by the script to kiss Maria and press her to my bosom, in front of her future husband, is too irresistible!” Henry laughed.

     “And as for Julia’s pique, we also know where to lay the blame, do we not?”

     “We do indeed – we lay the blame on female vanity and caprice– for despite my best efforts, Julia Bertram scorned to take any part but that of Agatha. In the face of such obduracy, reasoning is in vain and flattery useless. She must be first in consequence, and if she cannot, she chooses to be nothing at all.”

     “As for that last, are you speaking now of the play, or of your affections, Henry? At any rate, the foolish girl should have more pride and resolution. Heaven knows how my vanity has been mortified tonight, though I would confess it to no-one but you.” Miss Crawford willed herself not to look out the window to see if Edmund was still standing in the sweep and watching the carriage as they drove away.

    “When you gave Bertram your consent to apply to his friend Charles Maddox to take up the part of Anhalt, were you in earnest? Or do you object to playing love scenes with a gentleman with whom you are barely acquainted?”

Meet Lona Manning

Hello. I was born in South Korea a few years after the Korean War. My father taught library science at Yonsei University. And -- being from the American South, he also taught his students how to do the Virginia Reel. My mother fostered Korean war orphan babies.

My folks returned to the United States in the early 60’s and were active in the civil rights movement. We always had the kind of house that was filled with books and magazines. Our family (with six kids by then) moved to Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, in 1967. Then we had a house filled with books, magazines, and war objectors playing guitar and singing “Where have all the flowers gone.” 

I put myself through university in Vancouver. Over the years, I've been a home care aide, legal secretary, political speech writer, office manager, and vocational instructor. Mainly I worked in non-profit administration until suddenly deciding (in my late 50’s) to get an ESL teaching certificate. So most recently I’ve been teaching English in China. My husband Ross and I raised two boys; one is now a computer programmer, and the other is finishing law school.

Although I have not written much in recent years, I have authored several lengthy non-fiction pieces about notable American crimes, such as: the murder of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the Lindbergh kidnapping, the 1920 Wall Street bombing, the satanic ritual moral panic of the 90's, and the Rubin Hurricane Carter case. These articles have been cited in over a dozen books and been used in secondary school and university courses [for example, Sam Houston University, University of Missouri-Kansas City] My article about O'Hair was used in a course on the history of atheism at the Center for American Studies at Heidelberg University. My Wall Street bombing article was referenced in a New York City Law Journal Review article.  

Last spring, after a long silence, my Muse showed up and started writing this book in my head.

Hobbies, interests, passions and peeves:  I've sung in a number of bands and choirs, most recently the Kelowna International Choir. My husband and I love to travel around Asia. I get buggy when people use possessive apostrophes when they really mean plural, as in "apple's for sale."

Connect with Lona Manning

Book Blurb:

Fanny Price, niece to Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park, is an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, who is grateful for the advantages of education and breeding conferred upon her as result of growing up with her wealthier cousins. But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, together with a broken heart, compel Fanny to run away from Mansfield Park and find employment as a governess. 

Far away from everything she ever knew and the one man she loves, will Fanny grow in fortitude and independence? Will a new suitor help her to forget? Or will a reckless decision threaten to destroy her own life and the lives of those she holds most dear? 

This variation of Jane Austen’s novel includes all the familiar characters from Mansfield Park, as well as some new acquaintances. There are some mature scenes.

Buy: Amazon
Add to Goodreads

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

* * * GIVEAWAY * * * 

It's giveaway time!! Lona Manning is generously giving away a paperback and e-copy of her book A Contrary Wind to two lucky people! To enter, please leave a comment below!

  • One paperback of A Contrary Wind (U.S.mailing addresses only).
  • One e-copy of A Contrary Wind (Open to International winners).
  • One prize per winner.
  • To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below and include your e-mail or twitter name. If you leave your email, please put parentheses around (at) and (dot).
  • Winners will be picked randomly by
  • Last day to enter the giveaway is March 23rd, 2017, 11:59 PM Pacific Time. 

Good luck! 

Many thanks to Lona Manning for stopping by with a little taste of her new book! And for having a giveaway with me! 

So, what did you think of the excerpt? Where is Mansfield Park ranked in your list of favorite Jane Austen books? Do you have any questions for Lona? 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What Are You Reading? ~ March 15th, 2017

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What are you Reading?  Let me know what your current read is, what you recently finish reading, and what you plan on reading next! 

Here's my list: 

I'm starting Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I've wanted to read this book for a while, so I'm excited to get into it! 

I just finished Windwitch by Susan Dennard. This one took me so long to finish. It crept along with too many characters to follow, leading to what I hope will be a great conclusion in the next and, hopefully, the final book of the series. Although, the last 70 pages or so was pretty exciting!

What's next? I'm not sure! 

FTC Disclaimer: Book links to Amazon - I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

I'm linking up with This Week In Books hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found.

And with Sam @ Taking on a World of Words

So, tell me, what are you reading? 
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