Georgia on My Mind

texasholdem_cover (2)WINNER! WINNER! The winner of the Shadow Falls wine glasses from last week’s blog is: Quilt Lady! Please email me at: christie (at) christie-craig.com with your snail mail addy.  Congrats!

Okay . . . some of you might have read that after emceeing the RWA Rita and Golden Heart Awards ceremony in Atlanta last month, hubby and I took off someplace to unwind.  Because neither of us had ever visited Savannah, it seemed like the perfect place.  And it was. 

It was absolutely lovely. So picturesque.  Not that I’m the only one who thinks so.  The art galleries along City Market were plenty, and many of the paintings captured the images and charm of this southern town.  And several of the artists captured my interest.  So much so, that I bought eight prints while I was there from three different artists. 

I was also lucky enough to actually meet one of the artists.  And because I saw she had also published a children’s book, we had a nice little chat about writing and art.  Today, I’d like to introduce you to Sharon Saseen, a very talented artist, whose artwork will be hanging in my new home very soon!  And today, I have a special prize.  I’m giving away a copy of Sharon’s book, Patience and the Flower Girl.  So make sure you leave a comment and tell us what kind of art you like!

Welcome, Sharon!

First, Sharon, I’d love to know what inspired you to become an artist?

Ardsley Park Mansion

Ardsley Park Mansion

The inspiration to become an artist began in childhood listening to books on my little record player, picturing the scenes, and imagining the characters in my mind. The world of imagination was a great place to visit!

My family did not have a television until I was seven and it was a black and white set. This was a good thing!

 I can recall a life size dollhouse in our back yard where my sisters and I produced plays, had clubhouse meetings with neighborhood children, and served candy treats while playing restaurant. This was an environment for the imagination. My childhood was also an era of coloring books, Walt Disney’s vivid color movies and circus tents. It was the 50’s.

I knew as a child that I was an artist, not that I would grow up to be an artist, but that I was made an artist.

 I know that you have also written and published a children’s book. Can you tell us about that?

 As a former elementary art educator, I loved picture books! Some of the best drawing and paintings are from contempory illustrators.  So with this desire to write and to illustrate books, I began thinking about a venue. A fairytale wedding story came to mind when I saw a pigeon circling inside a church in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Hence, a humorous story about a unique friendship between a flower girl and a wedding dove was born.

Patience and the Flower Girl tells the story of Alice Ann, a reluctant flower girl who blooms in her role as flower girl at her aunt’s wedding, with the help and antics of a special friend, Patience.

Cover Patience Flower GirlThe illustrations for the hardback picture book were painted in watercolors with scenery inspired by my beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia.

 I know writing and painting are both art forms that utilize the right side of our brains, How else do you think painting compares to writing?

   This is an academic question, so I will answer it in that manner.

   Writing and painting are forms of communication, a language of the imagination. The composition of the painter includes elements of line, color, shape, pattern, space, and tone/value. The viewer of the painting is moved to a higher level of consciousness.

   The writer relies on nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs to form sentences to create a world in which the reader is transported to a different plane of awareness.

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     The painter and the writer are observers of their environment. The finished work is a personal expression of what is going on inside and outside of the observer.

A painter uses a sketchbook, whereas, a writer stores his experiences in a journal. The writer paints pictures with words. Both arts exaggerate reality to  entertain or to persuade an audience.

Creative, expressive people are just barometers of our civilizations reflecting and preserving the culture of our times.

River Street West

River Street West

 As a writer, I’m always being asked what inspired a particular book? So let me ask you, what inspires your paintings? Do you come across a scene and just get pulled in? Is it a certain type of light that triggers your artist within and it says, “Paint this?”

 My lifetime spans the restoration of America’s largest Historic District, Savannah, Georgia. During my childhood, the Historic Savannah Foundation was well underway. I witnessed the townhomes being restored, courtyard gardens were replanted, and homes sometimes moved to other locations.

Our barren parks and monuments were slowly cleaned and filled with shrubs and flowers. Garden Clubs and other private donors came to the rescue.

    At the age of ten, I was taking private oil painting classes and was literally, “painting the town.”

  The thrill of being on location experiencing a communion with light, value, color, shapes and patterns to create the beautiful scenery was intoxicating!  I grew up painting and drawing because I felt empowered to make the scene better than it actually was. I added shutters to windows where there were none, plants and flowers to empty porches, added color to buildings that were white. In the magnolia trees I painted bouquets of flowers that danced in the breeze.

 From your paintings that I’ve seen, there seems to be a deep connection to Savannah. Is this true with all your work, or do you get inspiration from other areas as well?

 I love to travel internationally and paint on location. Years of perfecting my craft to appreciate good design, now affords me the pure joy of expressing the scene in front of me.

When a passing tourist asks, “How long have you been working on this painting?” I generally reply, “Two hours and thirty years.”

My portfolio includes: Charleston, Beaufort, and Hilton Head, South Carolina and the countries that I have traveled to like Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, and the Dominican Republic.

Southern Painted Ladies

Southern Painted Ladies

How would someone go about purchasing some of your work?

Originals and prints can be purchased in Savannah from Signature Gallery, in City Market and Gallery 209, River Street. In South Carolina they are in Planet Hilton Head in Harbour Town, Hilton Head. They can also, be purchased from my website www.saseen.com. For further information, call me at 912-233-1341.

LOCAL COLOR in Sandfly, Georgia is where I teach workshops and show my abstract painting collages.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

When you come to Savannah look me up!

Thank you so much for being here, Sharon!  I loved meeting you and I’m going to love having your artwork in my home everyday!  Now one lucky commenter is going to win a copy of your book, Patience and the Flower Girl.  Good luck!

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Worth Fibbing about to the IRS?

texasholdem_cover (2)WINNERS!  WINNERS!  The winners of last week’s blog with Ava Miles were:  Abigail Beal and Pearl! Please email me at: christie (at) christie-craig.com with your choice of e-book or print (and snail mail addy or Amazon or B&N.)  Congrats!

Okay, in Texas Hold ‘Em, which comes out January 28th, my hero and heroine, Austin and Leah, are both wine drinkers.   Oddly enough, they are both fond of red wine, and particularly a good Cabernet.  So while writing the book, I told my frugal, non-wine drinking hubby that the bottles of Cab I brought home during those few months of writing were simply research.  Of course his question was, “So that makes them tax deductible, right?”

Hmmm.  How convincing could I be with the IRS? 

I envisioned myself explaining, “Well, my hero accidentally makes my heroine drop her cheap bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, so he replaces it with an expensive bottle of Cab, and I needed to test several bottles to make sure I knew the difference between a cheap and an expensive bottle of Cab.  It’s all in the descriptions, and how can I describe something that I haven’t personally tested?”

Yeah, I didn’t think that would work, so I won’t be adding wine research expenses to my tax form.  Frankly, hubby didn’t buy it either, but that’s okay, I still got to enjoy some wine.  And one that was almost worth lying to the IRS about was Formation, Monterey County, Cabernet Sauvignon.

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As it reads on the label:  The Geologic formations of the Monterey County region were formed many millions of years ago.  The ancient marine layers and alluvial soils are a result of the primordial sea and shallow coral beds over the oceanic volcanic crust.  Deliciously expressing their origin the wine of Formation exhibit deep aromas, balance and structure.   

I can’t and won’t tell you anything about the dirt or formations in that area. I don’t know about marine layers, or even that much about coral beds and volcanic crust.  But I will tell you that it has a bold taste and a bolder finish.  It comes with a flavor of ripe fruit, pepper and chocolate.  As my dad would say, it has a ‘morey’ taste.  You want more from the moment you taste it.  While a bit pricier than my everyday wine, at $17.99 this bottle will make a comeback at the Craig house even without it being a tax write-off.

So, any new wines you guys can recommend? Or how about crazy tax write-offs? I could always use a few of those.

Today, I’m offering a prize of a set of Shadow Falls wine glasses to one lucky commenter, so make sure you leave a comment!

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French Roast

texasholdem_cover (2)WINNERS!  WINNERS!  The winners of last week’s blog with Terri Osburn are: Becka Lynn and Ellie . . . and the autographed copy goes to: Julie S.!  Please email me at: christie (at) christie-craig.com with your preference of Amazon e-book or paperback. (If you choose paper, please send your snail mail addy . . . you, too, Julie!)  Congrats!

I have another special author for you to meet today and I’m very excited!  Ava Miles launched her series last month with the book, Nora Roberts Land, and is here with us today to talk about the second book, French Roast.  And don’t forget to leave a comment because two lucky people will win a copy!

OK, Ava, you know I am a big wine drinker.  So, if you were to pair a wine with your book, which would it be?

Well, since my current hero is a French chef trained at The Culinary Institute of America, I would have to say Côtes du Rhône, which is one of my favorite red wines from France. I also enjoy drinking wine like Christie, thinking about the land that grew the grapes and who brought in the harvest, whether it’s a multi-generation family-operated venue or someone starting out fresh. I also came to appreciate wine more when I worked as an apprentice chef in a restaurant that catered to celebrities, politicos, and some big media people. I participated in creating the new menu, which involved a number of wine tastings. I learned a lot about wine that summer. And had one pretty rascally waiter bamboozle me with the biggest line of all: that you measured a wine’s aroma by ascribing it a light, medium, or deep penetration. Yes, ladies, he did. And I fell for it. For about twenty seconds. Then I gave him the hairy eyeball, and that was that.

LOL!  Can you tell us about your favorite or least favorite scene in the book and why?

Gosh, I hope I wouldn’t have a least favorite scene in my own book. LOL. One of my favorite scenes is when my characters, Jill and Brian, decide to take their relationship to the next level. They were childhood best friends, so even though they’ve known each other most of their lives, it’s a huge step. Since Brian is a chef, he offers to cook for Jill. It’s winter in their small town of Dare Valley, Colorado, so he chooses some hearty fare: a mushroom veloute soup accompanied by Spanish chorizo sausages and handmade French bread. Sounds delicious, right? When the heroine arrives, Brian has the funniest thoughts. I still crack up when I read them.

He turned back to the sausages and decided they were like a bad joke. Why hadn’t he picked something that didn’t resemble a dick? Like pork tenderloin. Hell, even that had “loin” in it. Why hadn’t he realized how sexual meat was? Legs. Breasts. Loin. Throw in shank, and you had Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

And then they both finally start talking about how bad of an idea the sausages were for their “get it on” meal. They end up laughing like the best friends they are. The innuendo is like a Robin William’s monologue. Hi-lar-ious!

Name three qualities you are envious of in your hero or heroine.

Jill is a small town businesswoman, who took some money inherited from her grandmother and used it to open a coffee shop based on a college business plan. She wants to be a big businesswoman on a grander scale like her grandfather, the town’s leading legend, Arthur Hale. She’s confident in her own power about her abilities to create community and spread good coffee to everyone. Her best friend is a cop, and after hearing she and her fellow officers use instant coffee at the precinct, Jill wants to save cops everywhere. She’s smart, funny, and has a big heart—three things any of us would like to ascribe to.

 

OK, since it’s a tradition, last and most serious question . . . what is your guilty pleasure?

Other than being a fan of George Michael in the “Faith” days? Haha. I would have to say it’s watching the TV series, Nashville, right now. It’s a total soap opera with cowboys and country music—something one of my future books will have in it. Minus the soap opera part of course.  🙂

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Love it!  Now can you tell us about your book and how to find it?

Small-town biz wiz Jill Hale has been in love with her childhood best friend Brian McConnell for as long as she can remember. A falling out led to years of estrangement, but when Brian returns to Dare Valley after trying to make it big as a chef in New York City, Jill’s determined to make amends. She’s convinced that starting a restaurant together will be the perfect win-win situation, allowing her and Brian to work together and play together.

After a series of missteps sliced and diced Brian’s career in the Big Apple, he came home to regroup and find himself. He’s convinced that reestablishing his connection with Jill, the girl who got away, will put his life back on track. And when she approaches him with her plan for going into business together, he’s certain it’s the one way he can have it all—his dream job and his dream girl.

Jill and Brian are falling for each other all over again when Brian’s ex sashays into town, intent on sabotaging their reunion. Add in a mysterious investor who’s determined to get Jill on board with his project, and the bond between the couple is tested to the limit. Will their second chance at love implode, or will they find their own recipe for a happy ending?

Available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/French-Roast-Dare-Valley-ebook/dp/B00EDZL0O8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376160407&sr=8-1&keywords=ava+miles+french+roast

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/french-roast-ava-miles/1116374671?ean=2940148644071

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/french-roast-dare-valley-series

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/345110

Sounds like a wonderful read!  Thanks so much for being here, Ava!  OK, now leave us a comment and tell us about your guilty pleasure and two lucky commenters will win a copy of Ava’s book!  Good luck!

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Ava Miles

 Ava Miles’ first novel, NORA ROBERTS LAND, kicked off The Dare Valley Series and brought praise from reviewers and readers alike. Much to Ava’s delight, USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog praises the book saying it “combines small-town romance with big-world issues in a full-bodied romance” and noting its “great hero…wonderful, idyllic setting… [and] great characters” while Joyfully Reviewed calls it “warm, funny and totally entertaining” and Romance Reviews Today highlights the “chemistry between Meredith and Tanner, and… [the] dangerous, exciting plot line woven throughout.”

 Now, Ava reaches out to readers once more, bringing them her new novel, FRENCH ROAST, and taking them back to the small, Colorado town of Dare Valley and the residents who make it memorable, including the Hale family who, like Ava and NORA ROBERTS LAND heroine Meredith  Hale, are descended from a long line of journalists.

 Ava’s great-great-grandfather won his first newspaper in a poker game in 1892 and her family has had something to do with telling stories, whether to share news or, in her case, fiction, ever since. In fact her clan is still reporting on local events more than one hundred years later at their family newspaper.

 Since childhood, Ava has been scribbling down ideas and writing. Despite having hundreds of pages under her belt, she says it wasn’t until her characters “wouldn’t stop talking” that she knew she had the perfect characters and a story arc she simply had to share, and thus, went on to complete the first of several novels she had begun. Having done so, she went on to write more Dare Valley novels and is currently at work on a novella and plotting her next series.

 Having worked as an apprentice chef in a restaurant popular with celebrities, politicos, and other journalistic luminaries, and as a private chef while in graduate school, Ava had no lack of inspiration as she dealt with the foodie aspects tied to FRENCH ROAST and the restaurant central to her plot. 

 Born and raised in the Midwest, where her family’s newspaper is located, Ava went on to earn an undergraduate degree in writing and advanced degrees in political science and conflict management. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Washington Romance Writers. She is also part of an unofficial group that regularly convenes a writing retreat at Nora Roberts’ restored Inn Boonsboro in western Maryland. Having left behind the “day job,” which took her, literally, all over the world, she now writes full-time in the peace and quiet of her northern Virginia porch-swinging-friendly community.

 FRENCH ROAST, Book 2, Dare Valley Series, by Ava Miles

Contemporary Romance/Fiction/Original

August 2013/On Sale 8-13-13/$4.99 (eBook), $14.99 (print)/ISBN: XXXX

 www.avamiles.com facebook.com/AuthorAvaMiles pinterest.com/authoravamilesfacebook.com/NoraRobertsLand twitter.com/authoravamiles plus.google.com/110201714901830875706

Meant to Be

texasholdem_cover (2)I’m thrilled to be back, and recovered (mostly) from RWA Nationals in Atlanta.  But I did have a fantastic time!  Now it’s back to business here at Laugh, Love, Read.  And I know you are ready to meet another fantastic author friend, aren’t you?

Well, I have just the gal for you!  I’d love for you to meet the wonderful Terri Osburn as she shares with us about her book, Meant to Be, and you’ll definitely want to hang around and leave a comment because not only am I giving away two copies to some lucky commenters, but Terri has been gracious enough to offer up one autographed copy to a lucky winner!

So, Terri, let’s start with which three words best describe your book?

I like this one.  Flirty, funny, and full of angst.  (I think I cheated there, but I’m sticking with it.)

Have your parents or family read your books and/or love scenes?  How do they react and how does that make you feel?

My mom and sister are actually beta readers for me, so they read everything before it goes out. Sometimes before my editor. Sex has never been a taboo subject in my family, so the sex scenes are no big deal. If any of my other family members have read it and been uncomfortable, they haven’t mentioned it yet. But that would be a fun conversation I’d love to have.

What have you learned about people since becoming an author?

I’ve learned there are more people sensitive to profanity than I would have guessed.  That seems to be a common mention in the unhappier reviews.  I still appreciate that they took the time to read the book, but I really didn’t see that one coming.

OK, I always like to end on a serious question . . . they’re casting your book in a movie.  Who’s playing the leading roles?

Since I never picture actors in the roles of my characters, this one is hard. For Joe the hero, I had to do some searching. Joe has really blue eyes and a heart-stopping dimple. I came across Scott Elrod, who is a German actor, and I have no idea how good his English is, but he certainly has the look.

Can I insert a “Yum” here?  🙂

Beth is the typical girl next door, with green eyes and curly, chestnut hair. If Amanda Seyfried would go brunette, she might fit the role really well. She has that innocence the person playing Beth would need. Now that I think about it, these two actors could really bring my book to life.

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Fantastic answers!  Now I’d love to hear more about the book and where we can find it . . .

Sometimes the next best thing is what you’ve been looking for all along…

Beth Chandler has spent her whole life pleasing others. She went to law school to make her grandparents happy. She agreed to marry her workaholic boyfriend, Lucas, to make him happy. And, despite her fear of boats, she took a ferry to see Lucas’s parents just to make them happy.

While suffering through a panic attack on the ferry, Beth meets a tall, sexy stranger who talks her down from her fear—and makes her heart flutter in the process. Soon, she has a new reason to panic: her gorgeous, blue-eyed rescuer is Lucas’s brother, Joe.

But could she ever leave her fiancé for his own brother…even if Lucas is more focused on making partner than on making their relationship work…and even if Joe turns out to be everything she never knew she wanted?

Available at Amazon:  http://tinyurl.com/ouvmcnz

Barnes and Noble:  http://tinyurl.com/qf8gdec 

Thank you for being here, Terri!  Now, everyone else, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win your very own copy of Meant to Be (including that autographed copy!)

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Born in the Ohio Valley, Terri relocated below the Mason Dixon line in the early 1990s after experiencing three blizzards in eighteen months. Seeking warmer climes, she landed in Nashville, did a stint in Arkansas, and eventually moved to the East Coast, where she settled near the ocean. In 2012, she was named a finalist in the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest for unpublished manuscripts. An agent and contract soon followed. Her debut release, the first in her Anchor Island Series, MEANT TO BE, was released in May 2013, with book 2, UP TO THE CHALLENGE, to follow in January 2014.

Website: http://www.terriosburn.com

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Twitter: @TerriOsburn

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