Tuesday, February 14, 2012

AUCOURANT L'AMOUR, AUTHOR'S VALENTINE'S DAY STORIES

AUCOURANT L'AMOUR VALENTINE'S DAY GIVEAWAY DONATING AUTHORS TELL US ABOUT FIRST CRUSHES, WHAT IT TAKES TO HAVE A GREAT RELATIONSHIP, AND THE FIRST TIME THEY MET THEIR SPOUSE OF SIGNIFICANT OTHER
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AUTHOR BARRY WILLDORF (FIRST CRUSH)

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So Kitty, it goes like this:
I was in the eighth grade. She was in the eighth grade too. Who knows what does it. You see someone and you go crazy insane with attraction.

She was standing in a circle with a group of friends, laughing. I can still recall that she was wearing one of those high schooly sweaters, the kind of plaid skirt that has the big fake safety clip thing, vertical along a supposed end of the material, but you know it's really sewed closed. I'm old enough to disclose that she was wearing bobby sox and saddle shoes. Her hair was done up in a bob. She was petite, with a tiny nose, which I found very attractive, since I was beginning to grow a big one.

I leaned against a tree in the school yard and watched her, using the tree as cover and pretending not to be looking. I don't think she noticed me, which was both a relief and a disappointment. When the bell rang, I waited for her to pass and followed her into the school like a detective tailing a suspect. I found out her homeroom and over the next week or so, I learned pretty much her entire schedule. I also followed her home. By the end of the week, I thought I was pretty damn good at following people.

It was close to Christmas. My friend Joey, who was a sophomore in high school was throwing a party. Besides a brand new house, he had a driver's license and a 1954 Ford that he had "improved" into a hot rod. He was a member of a hot rod club that was ironically named "The Pacemakers." I sometimes think that if he is still alive he's still in a club with that name, but it's got nothing to do with cars.

It was in the era of phone books and you could actually figure out the right number if you knew the address. So it came to pass, after many, many anxious moments, fraught with fear of rejection, that I called her up and invited her to Joey's party. To my amazement, she accepted.

On the eve of this momentous event, I got my father to drive me to her house and chauffeur us to the party. It was embarrassing.

The party was pretty much a dud when it came to the required elements. Joey had crappy music. The food was sodas and chips. I was one of only a couple of the guys with a date. The rest of the kids were just the same bunch who I hung out with on the street all the time and with whom I got into miscellaneous trouble.

Then, fate entered the picture. I got a stomach ache that wouldn't quit. Did Joey have a hand in it? I'll never know. But he was quick to volunteer to drive us home. Being concerned with my medical condition, I'm sure, he took me home first. And that was my first and last date with my crush. From that day onward, she could be found in the front seat of Joey's Ford scootched up so close to him that he had trouble shifting from second to third without his hand winding up in her accommodating lap. I think they call it a crush because when stuff like this happens, you get crushed.

And so, he married this girl after high school. And the last time I saw them was at a funeral and Joey had gotten extremely fat. So I guess, she was getting crushed too.


AUTHOR CHICKI BROWN (FIRST CRUSH)

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My first real crush was on a boy named Butch. At the time we met, when I was about fifteen, he was dating one of my girlfriends. We all traveled in a group, and I was constantly tortured by his bone-melting smile. I guess I did a poor job of hiding my attraction to him, and once he and my friend broke up, I became his next target. Back in the day, we didn’t ascribe to the “no dating a friend’s ex” rule like girls do today. When it was over, it was over and we just moved on.

Butch and I “went steady” for almost a year and even had some of those silly teenage discussions about getting married – until he decided to leave New Jersey go away to Shaw University for his freshman year. For the first semester we wrote a few letters, but as most teen romances go, absence didn’t make the heart grow fonder, and we officially ended our relationship.

I saw him many years later after he’d graduated and started teaching. We were both a little older and a little wiser and were happy to see each other again. After we reminisced and caught up on what was going on in our lives, we said goodbye. I didn’t tell him, but his smile still made me melt …


AUTHOR CORAL MOORE (WHAT MAKES A GOOD RELATIONSHIP)

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Without question I think trust and honesty are the twin keys to making a relationship last.

I’ve been with my husband for ten years, married for two of them, and I trust him more than any other person in the world. I know he will always be there for me, no matter what it is I need. I can’t really emphasize how important that is, because it’s everything. When you chose to share your life with someone, you have to trust them.

Honesty is almost as important, and relates closely to trust. Because I trust my husband, I know I can be honest with him about anything without worrying. No matter how shameful or silly, I know he’ll listen. He might make a joke, as is often the case, but I know he’ll always hear me and be honest with me in return.

When you have trust and honesty between the two of you, everything else is easy.


AUTHOR DAWN GRAY (FIRST CRUSH)

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My first crush was one of my best friends' older brothers. He was still younger than me by two years but we had too much in common. We were always together with I wasn't with his sister. We would meet after school and go hiking or just hang around. This started when I was 8 and he was 6 or 7. We lost contact for almost 15 years, all three of us, but I remember telling him one of the last times that I saw him how much I loved him and that I was here if he needed to talk. I had heard from his sister on and off about him but almost four years ago we came in contact again, on Myspace, and now Facebook. Both of us are in relationships with children but the funny part of it is that we have picked up where we had left off, great friends that can tell each other anything.

Woo, letting that out of the bag was scary...LOL


AUTHOR FEATHER STONE (ON WHAT MAKES A RELATIONSHIP LAST)

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I've been married since 1969, 42 years. When I got married, I was a naive and inexperienced (yes, belieive it or not, a virgin) 22 year old woman with no goals - a recipe for disaster. I was a tall blonde with a high school education. RW, known as Scorch to his friends, was tall, lean and muscular, working on his father's farm. He had travelled around the world. He was very intelligent academically. And he loved to have fun. What made him stand out from all the rest of my boyfriends was a feeling of total trust.

My first awakening during my marriage was that it was not my husband's responsibility to ensure my dreams and needs are met. We share a responsibility to maintain our home and pay expenses (we didn't have children). It was up to only me to determine how I was going to succeed in my life's journey. All I needed from my husband was encouragement, belief in my abilities, honesty, a sounding board, and a shoulder to lean on when I was discouraged.

What I have found that kept our marriage interesting - it has never been boring - was spontaneity. One time I called his boss to get permission to kidnap my husband from work and take him on a trip into the mountains. I arranged the entire trip and paid for all of it.

I think he has remained interested in our marriage as I am always challenging myself. He's never sure what I am going to do next. I have explored a variety of activities from photography and film development, Reiki and Shamanism, gardening and flower arranging. Iv'e learned how to fly a plane (model planes) and canoe. I've invited him to come with me on canoe trips and to dog shows where our shetlies were in agility competition.

I have to tell you that romance and passion hasn't been our strong point. It's not lacking but I've never relied on those first month's of physical cravings to be with him to be the glue to keep us together. What has been our success through our troubles is that we sought professional advice when in a rough patch. And, he knows how much he means to me. When he needs support, he becomes the priority.

My husband knows how to be spontaneous as well. He likes to invite me to go for a car ride. Sounds rather bland, right? Well, we'ill head off in a direction and explore back country roads we've never been on, stop in a town and grab a snack, then head off again. We've been on trails that, thank God for our SUV, we were sure would lead us into a hunter's shack and be greeted with his shotgun. We've had the most interesting conversations during these days.

We've both grown, sometimes apart, then we find each other again. It's a magical dance. I couldn't imagine my life without him.


AUTHOR JULIE ELIZABETH POWELL (HOW SHE AND HER SPOUSE FIRST MET)

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Yes, I'm married. We first met when I was 15 then circumstances forced us to our separate ways - 37 years later we met again and within a year were married. He's my soul mate. Our relationship consists of friendship, honesty, truth, deep, deep love, so much that wishing for the other's happiness has become a lasting goal. If I had to choose what drew me to him it would be his eyes, yet there is so much more to it.

I'm sure there's a story just waiting to be written about us - I just might give it a go.


AUTHOR JUNE KRAMIN (HOW SHE AND HER SPOUSE FIRST MET)

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I grew up on Maui (and I use the term "grew up" loosely). I needed a change of pace. I sold my house, shipped my car, and took as little as possible with me. Men was something that was not on my list of priorities, so of course I met hubby almost immediately. Ok, it was the 1st weekend I was there. I was invited to a friend's house for a barbecue. We knew each other from Maui & I had looked her up as soon as I landed, anxious to re-connect.

I walked in her home and found a smorgasbord of handsome faces! It wasn't just a small family dinner, it was a full blown party. I didn't know her hubby was in the Coast Guard. Anyone off duty was there. Even though I was trying to be sworn off of men, I did gravitate to the tallest one in the bunch that had far too many manners for the likes of me.

When all was said & done and everyone was leaving, the two of us stayed back & helped clean up. Afterwards, we watched Princess Bride with the hosts. As he quoted the show word for word with me (as we were pelted with popcorn), I knew it was "true love". When we said our goodbyes, I tugged at my waistband & said "I can't wait to get home and get out of these pants." He replied with "I can't wait to get you out of those pants either."He almost had me with the sweet farm-boy-Minnesotan act.;)We became great friends and went on hikes & such together. Movies, dinners.... and then that pants thing:P

We were married six months later. That was 17 years ago:D


AUTHOR KATHLEEN S. HARSCH (HOW SHE AND HER SPOUSE FIRST MET)

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Well, my husband is actually younger than me by almost four years. He was my younger sister's best friend, and he always tried to protect her at high school parties. However, he always hung out at my mom's house, where I would visit during holiday breaks from college. Dan likes to speak his mind and really likes to argue a point, any point, into the ground. So, needless to say, I used to tell him, "Why don't you go home, Dan? No one cares or wants to hear you argue!"

This "Go home, Dan" relationship continued over the next couple of years, but a few things started to change. One time, I had a little gathering of friends over to my mom's house and all of my sister's high school friends thought, "Oooh! We found a party!" Suddenly, instead of five friends over, my mother's lawn filled with teenagers, carrying their cheap cases of beer toward the house. Without having to ask him, Dan became my bouncer and made everyone leave who was not invited. I think I swallowed a quarter that night, and his nursing skills helped my drunken rear-end to calm down. He rubbed my back as the quarter crawled down my esophagus, and he put up with my tears and anxiety over the entire evening's events. I realized Dan wasn't such a creepy, little brother figure anymore. He was actually, dare I say, a NICE guy.

Over the next four years, I moved away from home and lived in Miami for awhile. After my fiancee and I broke up, I moved back to my mother's home. I realized Dan had grown into a good-looking man. Dan and I started hanging out with mutual friends more and more. He asked my sister if I was interested in him, and I asked my sister if he was interested in me. I was 27-years-old and my sister was being my wing woman or his wing woman, whatever. Although Dan is rather outspoken about his opinions, he is actually a very shy guy when it comes to asking a woman out. Tired of waiting, one Saturday night I invited him over to watch a movie at my mom's house. Nineteen years later, we've been married for seventeen years and have two beautiful, very highly-opinionated children. Just a few things about Dan and why I married him and remain married to him. His words when he saw me in my wedding dress, "You're so beautiful." He still tells me that, wrinkles and extra fat and all, he still thinks I'm beautiful. He cried when our children were born. He held me up when I stood at my dying mother's bedside. He makes me talk to him when I'm upset or hurting (instead of the other way around). He's calm when I'm losing it, and I'm calm when he's losing it. He always apologizes when we argue, even when he is 100% right because no one is ever 100% right (it takes two to fight).

However, when people ask me how I met my husband, my joking answer is: "When I met Dan, I couldn't stand him. He drove me absolutely nuts. So, of course, I had to marry him!"


AUTHOR LAUREN MARRERO (FIRST CRUSH)

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It was the summer of my 11th year and I found myself undergoing that exciting transition from Elementary school to junior high. Still not quite a woman, I was nonetheless certain that I was no longer a child. New things awaited me, a strange new world of lockers and schools without playgrounds. I couldn’t wait.

I strutted through the Pasadena suburbs on the way to visit a friend, thinking of ways to convince my mother to buy MC Hammer pants for her grown-up daughter. Just the other day my mom swore I was almost ready for a training bra (I found out later she lied).

That’s when I ran into him. The boy down the street had often pulled my pigtails and made fun of my bony legs, but that day something was different. I imagined he sensed something new in me, the beginning of a wonderful transformation into womanhood.

He was adorable, with slanted eyes and caramel skin, the product of a modern American union. Too young to date, we described it as ‘going together,’ but going where? We ‘went together’ all the time to get ice cream and search for strange bugs. Did that count? Were we supposed to do things that mere days ago would certainly give us cooties?

“I like your fade,” I finally managed, referring to his hi-top haircut. With a puffy Cross Colours jacket and Converse All Stars, he was definitely too legit to quit.

He made the transition to junior high a year earlier and seemed so much more experienced than I. But we were finally equals. I boasted that I was going to check out the new flavors of lip gloss with a friend. Was that too flirty?

He agreed to tag along and I was confident that it was because of my overwhelming sensual charms. In tight, stonewashed jeans and a flannel top, I thought I was the hottest thing in town.

We talked about comic books and Shaquille O'Neal’s rap album. I punched his shoulder after a corny joke, more gently than I would have done in my childhood. He laughed and I decided to go for it. My hand sought his, and though it was a little damp from nervousness, he did not pull away.


AUTHOR M.C.V. EGAN (HOW SHE AND HER SPOUSE FIRST MET)

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More than a year before I met my husband, a psychic in Sweden described him to me, I was not pleased as I was trying to convince myself I could make my first marriage work, but it was long dead, just needed to be buried.

The first time I saw my husband Tom, I could hear my thoughts 'Oh he is so gorgeous' but I (yes and I had had a Gin & Tonic or two) I heard, in Swedish, the voice of the psychic saying "THE RIGHT ONE".

I got pretty spooked and danced with every ounce of energy in my body. Regretting I had chosen not to go very casual that night and as I stepped off the dance floor, there he was face to face talking to me! Which surprised me tremendously as when I had first noticed him, he was far away and in a very crowded place!
It was sparks and a very love-at-first-sight, How-can-this-be? you-are-not-my-type sort of experience for both of us...well we have spent the last quarter of a century together.


AUTHOR MARY ASTOR (FIRST CRUSH)

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First crushes are always the most memorable ones, but not always in a good way…

When I was in high school I had a crush on this really gorgeous guy who literally looked like an Abercrombie & Fitch model – I’m not going to describe his physical appearance in any greater detail, lest the object of my high school crush recognize himself - for purposes of this blog, let’s call him Mike. Mike was in a class a year ahead of mine, and the only thing I knew about him was his name, which I had overheard one of his friends call him by. With the exception of passing Mike by in the hallway every day during class breaks, I did not have any other interactions with him (if you can call mute adoration from afar interaction).
Anyways, my silent crush on Mike continued for several months until I got invited to my friend’s cousin’s birthday party and guess who was among the guests? You guessed it – Mr. Abercrombie & Fitch, and he was by himself – no girlfriend! Well, let me tell you - at the sight of Mike my heart jumped into my throat, my breath caught, and my hands literally started shaking - there was no way I was going to work up the courage to talk to this guy! Imagine my state when I found myself in a conversation with my friend’s cousin and saw Mike approaching us – I nearly choked on my Coca-Cola. Next thing I knew, my friend’s cousin introduced me to Mike and before I could say another word, my friend’s cousin was whisked away by his other friends. So I found myself standing next to Mike, reminding myself not to twirl my hair (to this day, I have a tendency to twirl my hair when I’m nervous) and wrecking my brains for witty things to say. Well, it turned out I need not have worried – Mike had plenty to say. For the first few minutes of our conversation I was struggling to catch my breath as I listened to how many pounds Mike could bench press at the gym, how many pushups he could do, and what his diet was like. A few moments later, my breathing evened out, and then, it slowed down almost to the extent of sending me into a coma. Yes, Mike was gorgeous, but the moment he opened his mouth, his charms dissipated – it turned out he was best admired from afar after all. And thus, I was promptly cured of my crush.

Now, years later, as a contemporary romance author I often revert back to the memory of my first crush when creating romantic heroes in my novels. What is the connection? you ask. Simply that the romantic hero has to be more than a pretty face – he has to have substance, and he should have a vulnerability to him – no one is perfect one hundred percent of the time.
In my contemporary romance novel, On the Rim of Love, Taylor Denton is a daredevil off-piste skier – he is fearless, driven and highly principled. At first glance Taylor would appear to be a veritable boy scout, but he too has inner demons that he is fighting. When Taylor meets Maggie, she is intimidated by his seeming perfection, but as the two get to know each other, she is drawn by Taylor’s weaknesses because that’s what makes him human. In Lucky Charm Annabel forms an unflattering first impression of strikingly handsome Etienne Gerard who appears to be overly confident and curt, but as Annabel begins to see Etienne’s true nature behind the seemingly impenetrable façade, she changes her view of him.

After all, is that not why we search for our soul mates – to have someone complete us and offset our flaws and be able to do the same for them? On this Valentine’s Day I’d like to wish to all the romance readers to find their romantic heroes, and to those who have already found their soul mates to never fall out of love.

About Marie Astor:
Marie Astor is a die-hard romantic who wholeheartedly believes in true love, which is why she writes in the contemporary romance genre.

Marie is the author of contemporary romance novels, On the Rim of Love, Lucky Charm, Dance Me to the Stars, and a short story collection, A Chance Encounter and Other Stories.
Currently, Marie is working on her next novel - stay tuned for details! If you would like to receive updates about book releases and events, please visit Marie’s website at:www.marieastor.comor visit Marie at her Facebook page:http://www.facebook.com/marieastorcollectionand Twitter: @marieastor.

On the Rim of Love:
http://www.amazon.com/Rim-Love-Contempor....27790646&sr=8-1

Lucky Charm:
http://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Charm-Contem....=AG56TWVU5XW C2


AUTHOR QUIN LOFTIS (WHAT MAKES A RELATIONSHIP LAST)

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I've been married for 12 years to a wonderful, but human man. We met andmarried very young at the age of 19 after only knowing each other for 4
months. What I believes makes a relationship/marriage last might not mesh
with others and that's okay. This is just my experience. The most
important and only reason Bo and I are still married after 12 years is
God. Nothing more nothing less. Without the love of Christ and His example
of unconditional love there is no way that I could love Bo the way God
calls me to. Without God humbling my pride and softening my heart during
times when I'd rather dig my heals in and be right, rather than be
forgiving my marriage would have fallen apart long ago. I'm not saying
that because Bo and I are Christians and choose to put God at the first
place in our lives that it's easy, far from it. Relationships are hard
work. They aren't 50/50, they are 110/110. Both have to be willing to be
selfless, merciful, forgiving and loving. But the hardest part in any
relationship is bending. Being the one who gives up the battle cry and
says okay, we don't agree, but I love you and respect you and because of
that I'm going to let it go and trust God to take care of it. So many
times when I've argued with my husband I just want him to see my point of
view, to understand where I'm coming from. What I'm learning over the
years is that me cramming it down his throat will not make him see or
understand anything. I cannot make my spouse do or be anything. Only God
working in his heart can do that. On the rare occasion that I listen to
God's prodding telling me to let go, to not be the one that has to be
right it's amazing how much different the argument turns out. Bo and I
have had many people over the years look at us in confusion, disbelief and
even a few awed because we married so fast ans so young and here we are
still trucking along. But more than that we still CHOOSE to love each
other. Even with all the crap that we as sinners bring to the table every
day, we choose to love through it. Love may start as an emotion and may
start as something you feel in the beginning of a relationship, but as
time goes on love becomes something you do, something you choose even when
you don't feel like. The world has the easy answer, if you're not "in
love" then get out, but the truth is you will not always be in love with
someone. It isn't possible because we are sinners and selfish. It is
possible with Gods help to rise above our humanity and choose to love
someone as unlovable as our selves. That is was makes a relationship last.
In a world that constantly bombards with true love, and following our
heart and the happily ever afters (which I even write about because there
is a deep desire in all of us to be loved unconditionally for who we are,
trash and all) we have become deceived into believing these things come
with out sacrifice on our part. The reality is the only relationship worth
having is one in which you will willing lay down your own will, your own
desires and your own rights. How easy it is to say that you will lay down
your life for the one you love, for more than likely that day will never
come. But to have to say that today I will get up and I will put you
first. I will make breakfast for you because I want you taken care of. I
will wash a load of laundry because I know it will make things easier on
you. I will put your physical needs above my own even though I'm tired. I
will sit an watch the game with you because you enjoy my company and I
care about what you want. Day in and day out living in the valley of life
that's hard, that's tough and frankly there are times when it flat out
sucks. The rewards we reap from such faithfulness and the fruit of the
labor you will have in your relationship will make it all worth it. I pray
that Bo and I will continue to choose to love one another day in and day
out. I pray that we will not give into the worlds motto that the grass
must be greener. I pray that I can show my children that you can have your
true love, your happily ever after, but it comes at a cost. But that cost
is more than worth it. 1 Corinthians 13 is often over quoted but it
doesn't make it any less true, any less vital to the message God wants us
to get when it comes to loving others, be it our family, friends or
spouse. Lay down your rights, your desires, your wants and give to those
you love. God will bless you beyond measure for your faithfulness.


Read more:http://www.greatmindsthinkaloud.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=interviews&thread=1105&page=1#ixzz1mOlkOqIU

AUTHOR RAVEN CARLUK (HOW SHE AND HER HUSBAND MET)

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My husband and I met at a live-action vampire game being hosted at my house. I was nineteen and trying to be so very mature, and not the shy girl I really was, so I was lurking near the entryway to say hi to everyone as they came in.

I was in the middle of a conversation when he walked in; tall, slender, long hair, and a black trenchcoat. At first, I thought it was one of my brother's in-game rivals, someone that would never come to my house in a million years. I was shocked.

My shock only grew stronger when I realized it wasn't the rival, but a new player. Our eyes met, and he stopped mid-stride, as captivated as I was. We stared and were speechless, and nothing else mattered at that moment.

It lasted a heartbeat, but it was enough to make me want to know him. No one had ever sparked that kind of reaction in me, and I wouldn't stop until I at least got to know his name. So I wore my character to hide my shyness, and demanded his name. We flirted back and forth in character, and got more and more bold over the ensuing weeks.

The flirting only got better out of character, eventually turning to love. Over thirteen years later, and hes still the dark stranger that walked into my house one August night.


AUTHOR REGAN WALSH (FIRST CRUSH)

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It was fourth grade His name was David. Being the story teller, even at that age, I made up a story about him and passed it to my girlfriend in class. I got caught and the teacher got a hold of it. She read it and threatened to read it aloud. She didn't, thank God, but it was still very embarrassing that she read it. I never passed notes or stories in class again, that's for sure. I don't think he ever found out that I liked him, mostly because, at that age, my crushes changed almost weekly.

AUTHOR S.L. DEARING (WHAT MAKES A RELATIONSHIP LAST)

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Hmmm, I think that its a lot of things that make a relationship last... firstly, a soul mate. That's a given I guess, but finding your soul mate is one way to make it last. Other than that, it's many things. Respect, definitely... someone who you can talk to and laugh with... this is hard because everyone is different and relationships are different. I mean, falling in love is everything you want that's romantic and to have it with your best friend, but the thing that makes it different is that one little thing... passion. And I'm not even talking sex (which is part of it) but really being passionate about that other person. Being excited to see them or hearing their voice or having your heart skip a beat when they kiss you or hold your hand. It's that little thing that holds a couple together. You can still make each other crazy and fight and get annoyed, but no matter what, you forgive because that person is the one who is the first person you want to talk to in the morning and the last person you want to talk to at night and in your eyes they are beautiful. I think that's what keeps people falling in love with each other again and again, it's passion and respect. I think the biggest killer is resentment... there is nothing that kills a relationship faster than resentment.

Spicing things up... I don't know. I guess whatever you love to do together and making sure that you spend time apart. I know, that sounds strange, but absence makes the heart grow fonder and it gives you time to be with you, so you can appreciate being with that other person. Have an opportunity to miss them and know who you are without them, thus appreciating them even more. Again, everyone likes different kinds of spice... some aren't into spice at all... some like it super spicy and some like it super sweet... the key to knowing it to communicate. Nobody is a mind reader (well, most people aren't mind readers) so you have to tell your partner what you want and this applies to everything in your relationship. Oh, and mystery... you should have a ton of layers... always keep them guessing. Finally, be kind to one another... after all, we are talking about love.


AUTHOR T.R. GRAVES (HOW SHE AND HER SPOUSE FIRST MET)

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When I was in the 10th grade, I was at school and went outside to find my friends for lunch. Leaving my class, I saw from a distance several of my friends were staring my way as if anxiously awaiting my arrival. The closer I got, the more obvious it became that they were bursting at the seams to tell me something.

It turned out that they wanted to gossip about a new student. The second I approached them, they pointed his way. While they tried to be discrete by using head tilts and eye movements, I'm confident their actions were not nearly as 'clandestine' as they thought. Ignoring their rudeness, my gaze followed the direction they were hinting toward.

That is when I saw the most beautiful person that I’d ever laid eyes on. I'd never used the word ethereal in my life, but - right then and there - I knew it applied to him. He casually leaned against one of the many walkway poles and pretended to ignore the way everyone watched him like he was an animal at the zoo. As gorgeous as he was, my first impression was that he was very sad and lonely.

In the background, I vaguely heard my best friend filling me in on everything he’d heard about the boy, including the fact that he was in the 11th grade. Instantly, I realized it was unusual for someone his age to move to a new school. I wanted to know more, but he was too stunning to approach much less befriend. I, instead, left him standing by himself.

Here's the thing. I’ll never forgive myself for not reaching out to him that day. It turned out that his mother had moved him away from his loving father, his childhood home, and the only friends he’d ever known. His entire life had been uprooted with his move from the fourth-largest city to our tiny, little town in Louisiana. Having been married to him for the last 25 years, I now know that move - that first day of school - was one of the hardest things he's ever done. Almost grown by then, he had choices, but he followed his mother and become the man of the family.

Even today, he is selfless. He puts my needs and his kids wants above his own on a daily basis. I'll never be able to share every lesson he's taught me over the years, but on that day, I learned it is NEVER inappropriate to reach out to someone who looks like they need a friend…because they probably do.


AUTHOR TOM JOHNSON (FIRST CRUSH)

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Living in a farm and ranch community, I was a shy boy in school, though I did have many crushes. To this day, my favorite memories from school were Valentine’s Day. That’s when I would receive Valentine cards from all the pretty girls in class. But my love life was much like that of Charlie Brown and the little red haired girl; she never looked my way. It was even worse in my high school years. When other teenagers were dating, and making out in the back seat of cars, I was driving a tractor or riding a horse on the farm, where work came before socializing. Thankfully, that all changed when I joined the Army. Once I put on the uniform, I had girls asking me for dates. I had a lot of catching up to do (lol).

Now what was the question? Oh yeah, “crushes”. Sure I had crushes. Honestly, though, my first real crush was for my Spanish teacher when I was 12 or 13. Gads, when I sat in her class, I just knew she was aware that I was in love with her! One day our principal came into class to speak to us about (groan) SEX! And my Spanish teacher sat in the seat right behind me! I just knew my face was red as a beat, and she knew I was thinking about her (lol).

I did eventually grow up, and married a young girl of 15 when I was 20. We have been together ever since, and just celebrated our 51st anniversary.


AUTHOR VICTORIA LOGUE (WHAT MAKES A RELATIONSHIP LAST)

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As my husband and I will have been married 27 years this year (and met 30 years ago), I thought I ought to elaborate on what makes a relationship last.

Obviously, I can only speak to our relationship but there are a number of things we have done over time. The first and most important thing, I believe, is that our relationship is based on friendship. That means that over time no matter how angry we've gotten at each other, we can always fall back on the fact we're best friends and that is too precious to lose.

Similarly, we share numerous interests: our faith (my husband is an Episcopal priest), travel, the outdoors, reading, writing and photography, art, movies and more so there are always things to talk about and do together. The way we "spice" things up is by planning and taking trips, going on photo safaris or a film festival, or numerous other things revolving around our interests. We've also worked together on numerous projects from books to leading retreats. Most recently, we took on a new diet/exercise regimen that we do together in an effort to become healthier now that we're firmly planted in middle age.

We're empty nesters now (our only child is in college) but when she was young, we made sure that we occasionally took time away from her to go to a movie or out to dinner or spend the weekend away. But, we also made sure she was an important part of the things we did so she was always with us on any major trip and even helped with a number of our writing projects.

Finally, and this was an important step for us, we acknowledged important aspects of each other. By that I mean, for example, I came to terms with the fact he is a workaholic and learned to be gracious about that; he learned that as a writer, I need a lot of alone/staring-into-space time.

I can honestly say that our relationship is the best it has ever been.


AUTHOR KATHRYN MEYER GRIFFITH (ABOUT HER BOOK "THE HEART OF THE ROSE")

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EXCERPT Hist THE HEART OF THE ROSE-Revised Author’s Edition Kathryn Meyer Griffith Eternal Press Buy Link:http://www.eternalpress.biz/people.php?author=422

THE HEART OF THE ROSEis really the very first book I ever wrote…begun 39 years ago when I was only 21 years old. I set it aside for years as I went through a divorce, remarriage and getting a real job in the real world and then rewrote and sold it to Leisure paperbacks 25 years ago in 1985. This is the new revised author’s edition out now from Eternal Presswww.eternalpress.biz.Whew, it took a lot of rewriting because I was so young and green when I originally wrote it and had it published. It was before I found my voice and started writing what I was supposed to be writing…horror. This version is 2000% better! THE HEART OF THE ROSE is about a 15th century peasant woman who’s a healer (and thus believed to be a witch by some) who is loved and fought over by Edward the Fourth of England and his powerful but cruel cousin, Richard, the Earl of Warwick (known as the Kingmaker). The main characters and events are historically correct but Bronwyn is a fictional woman inserted into that time period. In 1985 it was passed off as a bodice ripper (racy generic cover)…now rewritten (with a realistic beautiful new cover by Dawne Dominique) it’s more a romantic paranormal. ***

BLURB:

Bronwyn is kind and resourceful, a healer and a woman ahead of her time who cares for her aging father and two young sisters. She can entrance a man with her sweet voice, the beauty of her face. However, she’s an impoverished peasant who lives in the dark, suspicious times of fifteenth-century England where such a woman is feared. Witches are believed to be everywhere, waiting to ensnare a powerful man…like Edward the Fourth of England, who comes across her one day singing in a tavern and makes her his mistress.

Edward’s powerful adversary, The Earl of Warwick, is seeking to take over the throne of England. Bronwyn is torn between the two; one she loves, the other she loathes. One cherishes her, the other wants to possess and control her. As the battle lines form, and the country is torn apart by political upheaval and bloody carnage, the two sides wrestle for the crown. Who will she end up with? Which man, when she’s condemned to burn as a witch, will save her and which man will let her die? ***

Short EXCERPT:
Bronwyn was so close to him she could have reached out and touched him, and she realized she wasn’t afraid of him any longer.

“Well?” She raised her eyebrows slightly and cocked her head. “What was I in this dream of yours?”

“My own true love, the one I’ve been seeking so long. I thought I would never find you, and now here you are,” he replied, unsmiling, in a husky whisper that no one else could hear. His eyes were so penetrating she felt herself blush.

His cohorts had resumed their game. For an instant it was though they were alone in the world as he laid his hand over hers and studied her face. “Do you know how beautiful you are? How little else I have been able to think of since the moment I first laid eyes on that face of yours, heard you sing? Who are you?”

Bronwyn dropped her gaze, not knowing what to say.
No, he wasn’t a stranger to her, either. “It’s true, we have met in a dream,” she said quietly. ***

Why I Wrote The Heart of the Rose

…my very first written novel begun forty years ago and originally published in 1985

I started writing The Heart of the Rose after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, not working, and was bored out of my skin. I read a horrible historical romance one day and thought I can do better than that!So I got out my old typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I tentatively called the book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer loved by Edward the Fourth who was falsely believed to be a witch. At the library (no computers or Internet back then) I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty and civil strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the Earl of Warwick and Edward the King. His brother Richard the Third. A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote. Reading that original version (a paperback released from Leisure books in 1985) now I have to laugh. It was pretty bad. All that archaic language I used (all the rage back in the 80’s). Yikes! But people, mainly women, loved it.

And so my writing career began. That was 40 years ago. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, and having to get a real job. Life, as it always seems to do, got in the way. ThE manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a while.

Then one day years later I found it in my bottom drawer and decided to rewrite it; try to sell it. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that would make a suggestion or comment. Snail mail took forever, too, and was expensive.
In the meantime, I wrote another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out, as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky feel to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the book into a horror novel. Like Steven King was doing. Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would really sell, she said. Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood as hers. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and started sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly.

But right before it was to go to editing, the publisher, Towers Publishing…went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a husband and son was one step above poverty at times. Back then I was so naïve. That was 1983 and that take-over publisher was Leisure Books.

As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate seemed to step in and the Tower’s editor that had bought my book, before she left, told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to try to save it. She believed in it that much.
Out of the blue, in 1984, when I had completely given up on the book, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy Evil Stalks the Night! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and Leisure Books promptly bought that one in 1985, as well; labeling it, and asking me to sex it up some, as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?)! It wasn’t a lot of money for either. A thousand dollar advance and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But back in those days the publishers had a bigger distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, warehoused and sent to bookstores. So 4% of all those books did add up.

So my career began. I sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years –as I was working full time and living my life. Some did well (my Zebra and leisure paperbacks) and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.

And twenty-seven years later, when Kim Richards at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course) my 7 out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks, including The Heart of the Rose – and I said a resounding yes!

Of course, I had to totally rewrite The Heart of the Rose for the resurrected edition because my writing when I was twenty-one was immature, unpolished and had been done on an electric typewriter, with lots of White-Out and carbon paper (I couldn’t afford copies), using snail mail; all of which didn’t lend itself to much rewriting. Then also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it. I also totally rewrote the book because, as was the style in the 1980’s, the prose was written in that old-fashioned prose using thees and ayes. The dialect of 15th century England. There were sex scenes I had to tone down. It was awful. So I modernized the language, cut all the redundant adjectives and adverbs and helped the characters to grow up a little (they were so dramatic). The Heart of the Rose-Revised Author’s Edition published by Eternal Press in November 2010 (http://www.eternalpress.biz/book.php?isbn=9781615722327 ), hopefully, then is a lot better book than it ever was in 1985. It should be…I have had thirty-nine more years of life and experiences to help make it a better book. Author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

***
You can keep up with Kathryn on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019954486, or her My Spacewww.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith


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