April 25, 2011

"Light" Reading

Survive the Easter weekend? Ready to get your summer reading list together? On occasion, I like to invite an author I admire to drop by my blog and share a little about how they balance their life or what they're up to. Early this year, I had the chance to work with Inspirational author, Regina Andrews, in an editorial capacity. She writes beautiful, uplifting stories that intertwine faith and romance. Read on to see what Regina had to say to my questions:

Hi Regina, my sweet friend. We met through the yahoo group, The Sweetest Romance Authors. You are a talented author and a fine lady.

Hi Danielle, and thank you so much for hosting me today. I think your blog is wonderful, and I am thrilled to be here!

Thanks. Tell us about your genre, or do you write in more than one?

Mostly I write Inspirational Romances, with a touch of suspense. I am also interested in Historical Inspirational Romances (That’s a mouthful!) as well.

Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

Definitely it chose me. Everything else I tried was okay, but to me without the added dimension of faith it seemed to fall flat.

Is there any genre you'd like to try? Is there one you wouldn't?

I love science fiction and may try that. Steampunk is very interesting, too. I would not touch horror. I’m a scaredy cat!

What fiction do you read for pleasure?

I love Maeve Binchy, Barbara Delinsky and Danielle Steele. Also Mitch Albom.

Readers make great writers! Tell a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing.

Growing up in Rhode Island, our lives revolved around the ocean and still do, really. We lived right near the beach, and every day my mother and I would walk there when the weather was good. She always read to me, and eventually we’d walk to the beach and read our own books.

You were blessed! I'd have loved to have grown up on the beach. So, which of your characters is your favorite?

I love them all, but I do love Maryanne Lynch from ANGELS OF THE HEART, which I just finished. It will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing in August. Maryanne lost her faith as a young girl and spent a lot of time trying to ignore God’s presence in her life. I think lots of us try and sidestep Him, for so many reasons.

I know that's true. You have a knack for touching on universal spiritual struggles. Are there villains in your books, and how were they created?

Mostly my villains are character issues: intolerance, selfishness or small-minded spitefulness. It is evil, actually which is my villain. Only takes one person to poison a whole group!

You must have read my Bad Apple post. (Ha!) What are you working on now?

Thanks for asking. Right now I am working on PRAISES OF THE HEART which is Book Three of the Sterling Lakes Series. It is due in September. At the same time, I am sketching ideas for book four, too.

I see. A write-a-holic! I love series. Please share more about LIGHT OF THE HEART. I've read it, I loved it.

LIGHT OF THE HEART released in March. It is Book One in the Sterling Lake Series. I grew up in a nice small town with very few problems and as I’ve had more experience in life, I have seen how fortunate I was and how unusual my experiences really were. I began to wonder what it would have been like to grow up with problems. What would I have done? Would my faith be as strong? That sort of thinking gave me the idea, and as I was working it seemed like there was too much going on in the town for me to wrap it up in one book. So the story arc was sketched out and the series was born. I am so grateful to Gail and Desert Breeze for accepting this idea and giving the good folks of Sterling Lakes a chance to tell their stories!

So am I, and I’m thankful I got to work with you on it.

Here’s an excerpt, I hope you enjoy! Thank you for having me, Danielle.


Chapter One

The afternoon class at Tanglewood Women's Prison was a spectrum of tension, as separated and splintered as a beam of light refracted through a prism. Cascade Preston held her student's template assignment up to the light overhead, and spoke carefully on the quality of the stained glass project.

"With two lights, or openings, Brenda, I would say your idea of a church window for this one would be correct."

Sighing, the student replied, "So you think I'm making progress?"

"Of course." She tossed her honey-colored curls behind her shoulders. "Don't you?"

Brenda snorted. "Heck, no. I'm in here for domestic assault. What do I know about progress? My life is over."

This stopped Cascade in her tracks. "Look, we all make mistakes. God has told us that sinners should flock to him. What do you think? "

Brenda shrugged. "God has his own agenda. We'll see what the parole board says about mine in two weeks."

"For now, let's focus on next week's class. Bring me a flower for that one.”

"Where are we supposed to get a flower?" someone muttered.

"Draw one, stupid," Brenda answered.

"Bye, ladies. Take care."

"See you." Sad-eyed, Brenda gave her a high-five as Cascade walked past her.

Cascade's heels clicked efficiently with her every crisp step, and she made sure to shuttle as closely as possible alongside the beefy guard who escorted her from the holding room. Getting into her Corolla, she whispered a prayer. "I don't think I'm doing any good here, Lord, but I feel you telling me to stick with it. So I will. Maybe this is the kind of thing that saved my mother." She tried to block the images of her mother's bruises from her mind, but they wouldn't go away. They never did.

The drive back into Boston passed by quickly, without too much traffic. "Lean on Me" blasted from her audio system, and she sang along with all her heart. At twenty-seven, she knew it was technically an oldie, but to her, it was fresh and filled with meaning. Cascade wondered as she sang what it would feel like to have someone to lean on, because she had always been alone.

"There's only one thing that could make tonight perfect," she mused as she pulled into the parking area for her condo complex, "and that's not going to happen, for sure."

Images of her long-gone fiancé, Kevin, came into her mind and heart. Where was he this fine June evening? More importantly, why were things so much better for him without her in his life?

A form crossing her path brought her back to reality. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed someone walking towards her car. A guy -- a big guy she did not recognize.

She shaded her eyes from the late day sun. Dark hair and outdoorsy looks. Work boots. "Nope,” she murmured to herself, “I don't know him."

Hopping from her car, she said, "Can I help you?"

"If you're Cascade Preston, you sure can."

He folded his arms across his chest. With all those muscles moving, Cascade could only imagine the stress put on the seams of his light blue cotton shirt.

"And you are..."

"Dan McQuay." He extended his arm towards her. "From the site."

"Hi." Cascade pumped his strong hand, lost in his sky blue eyes. "What site?"

He tilted his head. "The construction site."

"I'm not following you."

He looked at her steadily. "I'm project manager for the retrofit on the church in Sterling Lakes. The one that you're doing the windows for."

Cascade’s heartbeat quickened. Just hearing the name of the town where she grew up made her anxious and tense. "It seems there's been a misunderstanding. No way am I working on anything in Sterling Lakes." She started to bustle past him. "Now if you'll excuse me?"

"Don't run away, Ms. Preston. There's a problem here."

His tone of voice got her attention. He sounded like he cared... about her. That was crazy. She was a total stranger to him.

She nodded. "Apparently there is a problem, you're right. I don't know what you're talking about. Like I said, I'm not doing any work in Sterling Lakes, and I never will. That's the last place in the world I ever would go."

He gave a slow whistle. "Well, that's a loaded speech if I ever heard one."

In spite of herself, she smiled. "I didn't mean to get all hot and huffy, but it is how I feel, and I have my good reasons."

He eyed her intently before he finally spoke. "Understood. The thing is, your name is on the plans that I have, and my crew is ready to get going. We haven't heard from you, and we need to have a job meeting. Mostly, we need your specs."

Cascade noticed the strong line of his jaw when he spoke, and oh, those bluer than blue eyes of his were so easy to get lost in. She swallowed.

"I don't know what to tell you. I'm not contracted for that job. Your project executive should be able to answer your questions." She toyed with the zipper on her oversized leather shoulder bag as she watched thunderclouds roll across his handsome face. "Look, why don't you give me his name? I'll check things out at my studio in the morning and get in touch with him. Maybe I can get to the bottom of this."

"Yup." He took his hands out of his pockets. "Here's my business card, and here's his. Try and remember, every day is money to me."

"Okay, I know. I'm in business, too, so I get it. I know every job I'm on, and this one is not on my list. Let me see if I can find out why I'm on the list of subcontractors... if I really am."

"You are."

"I shouldn't be, so there's a mistake. I never even sent in a bid."

"At least we found out something tonight," he said with a shrug. "Other than you being a whole lot prettier in person than in the pictures all those magazine articles and newspaper stories print about you."

Cascade’s face warmed up at his compliment. "Now you're trying to butter me up."

"Just stating the truth, plain and simple like I always do, Ms. Preston. That's my way. Thank you for your time."

"You're welcome."

He started walking over to his truck. "Talk to you tomorrow."

"Right. And there's one more thing."

He questioned her with a wondering look.

"Please call me Cascade." Her smile lingered as she watched him drive off into the Boston twilight. Too bad this job was in Sterling Lakes. It might not be that bad to do a job with Dan McQuay. Not bad at all.

Light of the Heart is available for purchase

at Desert Breeze Publishing.

It's a wonderful story, and I recommend it. Put it on your To Be Read list!

~Danielle Thorne


JONATHAN said...

REGINA-your new book looks great.Please keep up the good work,and keep all your readers informed with your current news.REGARDS

Anne Patrick said...

Regina and Danielle, YOU LADIES ARE AWESOME! Enjoyed the post and excerpt. I have Light of the Heart on my TBR list and I'm looking forward to reading it. Dani's right, you are a wonderful writer. You both are!


Gina said...

Hi Danielle,
Thank you so much for hosting me today! Your blog is fantastic - like you. You're a wonderful writer and a terrific friend. Plus you totally ROCK as an editor, wow. Thank you for shining your light onto the Sterling Lakes Books! You totally made "Light of the Heart" shine brighter through your talent. Good luck to you always!

Gina said...

Hi Jonathan, and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your interest and will keep you posted on what's next, for sure! Thanks!

Gina said...

Dear Anne, thanks for you encouragement! You are a wonderful friend and a fantastic - Award Winning!! - writer. :-) Looking forward to your May 1st release, good luck!

JONATHAN said...

REGINA-please note that your STERLING LAKES BOOKS series looks very good,I think that your book series will sell very well.You are a very talented writer and all your readers look forward to many more books from you.REGARDS

B. J. Robinson said...

Loved Regina's book and look forward to more :)There's a review posted on my blog.I've also read Danielle Steel, and I love the romance and suspense genre.

Diane Craver said...

Hi Regina,
I'm envious of you living close to the ocean (and still do) while growing up. My favorite vacation is going to the beach. I haven't read LIGHT OF THE HEART yet but have loved all the excerpts. I hope to read it this summer. I think your Sterling Lake Series will bless many readers with your wonderful inspirational stories of love and faith.

Linda Swift said...

Hi Regina and Danielle, I enjoyed this interview and the excerpt from LIGHT OF THE HEART. I wish you success with this series. And Regina, we share a favorit author, Maeve Binchy. I have all of her books. Linda

Celia Yeary said...

REGINA--(and hi, Danielle!)--I must say I am impressed with the excerpt. I remember your very good writing, but here you are very accomplished. The series is intriguing...who would have thought stained glass windows could make a romance series? But I do feel God has an interest in us, even though He might not specifically direct us--after all...he gave us brilliant minds and loving hearts to use...
It seems you've found your special place in the world, and I couldn't be prouder for you.
Good luck to you on the series--Celia

Toni Noel said...

Great Post. You write such heart-warming books.

Toni Noel

Gina said...

Good Morning Barbara and Everyone! Great to hear from you, and thanks SO MUCH for your kind encouragement! Your review made me tear up :-)

Gina said...

Dearest Diane, you're welcome to come to the beach -- with me come on over to RI and visit any time, it would be a blast! Thank you for your sincerity and encouragement, you are truly a blessing.

Gina said...

Hi Linda, so nice to hear from you and I'm thrilled that you enjoyed the excerpt. Danielle was SUCH a great editor. I am very lucky and blessed :-) Thank you!

Gina said...

Dear Celia, my friend, thank you so much for your kind words and keen observations. I am so thrilled that you are enthused about the series and sharing your happiness with me! Danielle did a great job of editing this book, it was incredible working with her.
I can't wait to meet you. Good luck with your writing!
Thanks again.

Gina said...

Hi Toni and thanks so much for stopping by with a such a sweet comment! Talk to you again soon!