Thursday, June 21, 2012

65 and Counting

June 25, 2012 marks what would have been the 65th wedding anniversary of my beloved Grandparents.

65th.  An amazing accomplishment that I have no doubt would have been met with a grand party indeed.

Two loving souls from different parts of the country with varying backgrounds. My grandmother was born to a Danish immigrant mother that spoke not one word of English when she arrived in the U.S. at the ripe old age of 18. Her father was also an immigrant that hailed from Ireland that at least spoke the language, albeit with a heavy Irish brogue.  They met while working at a large plantation home in South Carolina: she was a maid and he was the gardener.  No words were spoken between them for a year, just a single rose sitting at Mama's table in the back part of the kitchen each morning.  Soon, Papa whisked her away to Nebraska and they began life anew.  My grandmother was their second child and only daughter.  Her fiery spirit, flowing red hair, love for music and desperation to remove herself from the dusty, barren fields of Nebraska led her to Southern California, only weeks before the onslaught of World War II.

My grandfather, who liked to refer to his multi-dimensional ethnic heritage as being a "Heinz 57," was born and raised on a cotton farm in Southern Arkansas, the eldest of two sons born to poor but happy sharecroppers. His mother was half Cherokee Indian and his father was German, which started his life out with a distinct disadvantage in terms of social acceptance and temperament. In December of 1941, at the  age of 16, he ran away from home and lied about his age, altering the family's Bible (which was the only official record of his birth) and joined the Navy. This act was not because he felt the desire to leave his harsh life at home, but the strong pull of patriotism and love for his country after the invasion of Pearl Harbor.

Call it fate, call it karma, call it whatever you like, but I call it the gentle hand of the Lord that guided these two together.  Turns out, grandma's older brother was also serving on the U.S.S. Langley with my grandfather and they became friends while sharing the same quarters.  My uncle had a picture of my grandmother in his locker, and I remember my grandfather telling me that once he "...saw that face, those eyes and legs, she was the girl!" He would laugh as he swore that was the reason that he became such close friends with my great-uncle, but we all knew it was just an inside family joke.  Truth was, after surviving the attack by the Japanese that eventually sunk the Langley, both my grandfather and my great-uncle became extremely close, their bond solidified by things neither would ever speak of, yet never forget.

When the war ended, the two destined souls finally met, thanks to some high end finagling of my great-uncle.  And just as grandpa predicted, she became his "girl" on June 25, 1947.

By the time I came along as the first and only grandchild, they had endured a lifetime of happiness and tragedy in sunny California.  Both experienced World War II, the Korean War, the first man to walk on the moon, the invention of the television.  Grandpa started working construction during the boom after the war, and was part of the large crew that constructed the majority of the Southern California highway system. Life was good for their small little family that consisted of my mother and my uncle, until Vietnam.

They watched helplessly as their one and only son was sent off to Vietnam, praying each day for his safe return, only to suffer even more upon his return home as a drug addicted, broken man that only found solace in the hard core drugs that within two years, snuffed out his life. It was their son's sudden, tragic passing that caused my grandpa to heed the pull of home and pack up their belongings and move "back to where he belonged" to South Arkansas.

I was only 5 years old when they left, and I was completely devastated.  My grandparents were my world, so every summer, I made the long airplane ride from California to Arkansas.  The memories of the summers I spent with them are forever a part of me.  Their love for each other and for me helped mold me into the woman I am today.  At 16, the summer visit ended with me deciding to stay in Arkansas, which is where I have been ever since.

My grandparents taught me so many things during their time here on this earth.  Love, family, respect, history, strength and faith.  At the age of 62, my grandfather heeded the call and surrendered to preach.  He spent his remaining years visiting nursing homes and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Although they each were broken when their son died, they both felt they were given a gift, a second chance at loving a son, when my own dearest son came along.

Although I miss them both terribly, I keep their memory alive each day in my heart, remembering everything they taught me, hoping that as they watch from Heaven, they are proud of the woman I have become. Even though I wish they were still here, I take comfort in the knowledge that, one day, I will be reunited with them in Heaven for all eternity. These thoughts keep the tears at bay and bring the smile to my face when the longing to see them becomes too great.

It is in their memory and in celebration of their lifetime commitment to each other that I am offering the world all three of my novels for free, beginning at 12:01 am PST on June 25, 2012 and running through 11:59 pm PST June 26, 2012.

I love you both, my dear ones. Thank you for being the most important forces in my life. May I always make you proud. I have no doubt that celebrating your anniversary in Heaven exceeds any celebration we could offer, though I wish, for a brief moment, I could hug you both once again and say "Happy Anniversary!"

Links to my books in the US:

Links to my books in the UK:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Welcome to the spotlight, Lindsay Anne!

It is my honor and privilege to bring to my readers today the incredible author, Lindsay Anne Kendal.

Lindsay holds a spot near and dear to my heart and although we are “across the pond” from each other, nonetheless, our friendship has blossomed.  I like to credit her with sort of “discovering” me and putting me on the track to where I am now headed.

Not only is she a wonderful author that has created a unique way to bring valuable life lessons to her YA readers, she does so in a very non-traditional setting. Her stories are fascinating tales set in and around Hell, with memorable characters that will keep you turning the pages to find out what exciting adventures they will wander through next.

I have read and reviewed the first two novels in her Bloodlines trilogy, Bloodlines and Torment.  Below is my review of both novels, as well as a link to purchase each one not only in the US, but the UK as well.  Following these reviews, you will find Lindsay’s comments about Torment, and why she decided to speak to the masses about love, honesty, loyalty and truly loving someone for who they are, not what they look like.

Lindsay is also extremely talented in creating exceptional book covers and book trailers.  She has designed all three covers for my books and put together the book trailer for my second novel, Zero Balance. If you are like me and have the desire for these things but are cursed with the inability to create them, then contact Lindsay! Not only will she exceed your expectations, but she will listen to your design concept and make it a reality.

Now, on with the show!

My review of Bloodlines: Five Stars on both Amazon & Goodreads

Lindsay Anne Kendal did a fantastic job on this novel, and that took a lot for me to say, since I don’t normally read this particular genre.

The plot line is extremely intriguing and contains a quite unique take on the hidden history of the Salem witch trials and the resulting generational impact that the actions of those individuals originally involved had on their subsequent “Bloodlines.”

The main characters are immediately likable and the friendships that developed will make for interesting ties in the next books.  The action is exciting and keeps your attention, yet is written so well that the “gore” factor is not necessary, therefore, it is a perfect mixture for the target audience.

Although I originally read this book to determine if it was appropriate reading material for my 13 year old daughter (which it is! - guess what she is getting for Christmas?) I am hooked on the storyline now, and will definitely purchase Torment soon, and Revelations when it is finished.

You know, for my daughter. :)

Amazon US link to Bloodlines
Amazon UK link to Bloodlines
Book trailer for Bloodlines

My review of Torment: Five Stars on both Amazon & Goodreads!

Torment is the second in the Bloodlines trilogy. This book fascinated me for a variety of reasons. The strongest pull that drew me in was Lindsay's interesting take on sorcery and Hell, even though as a Christian, I don't agree with them, it is just a fictional story. A close second is Lindsay's skillful ability to paint a strong cast of likable young adult characters from the first book and allowed us learn even more in the second. This sequel delves deep into their daily interactions with each other as their bonds become stronger.

Like each of us must face in real life, these imaginary young adults struggle with the same difficulties in managing relationships, emotional issues, coming to terms with who they are and why they are here in this world. But when they discover that alliances previously made were not the best choices, all Hell breaks loose (literally!)

Important issues about how young adults view not only themselves, but others as well both on the outside as well as the core of our inner beings, are subtly woven into this great tale. Loyalties are tested and only those with strong moral convictions will survive. Lindsay reveals a few more intricate details of Kiera's life and her true calling, then suddenly, leaves you staring at the last page! Hurry up and finish!

It takes a truly creative mind and talented author to not only make the characters come alive on the page, but to describe a fictional world with such intricate detail and make it believable. Congratulations to Lindsay for accomplishing these feats with ease!

Amazon US link to Torment
Amazon UK link to Torment
Book trailer for Torment

From Lindsay:

Hey guys and gals,

Firstly, I would just like to say a HUGE thank you to Ashley Fontainne for not only reviewing my book Torment, but for also giving me the opportunity to appear on her blog.

Since my second book, Torment, has been released, I’ve been asked one question over and over. Why did I scar my main characters love interest? I’ve spoken about this on other blogs recently and I do think it’s an important topic. So...

The answer is really quite simple and I’m sure a lot of people will agree with me. At this current time the media is forcing the “perfect body image” down people’s throats. You have to be skinny, have no blemishes, the perfect hair and eyes, and so on and so on. I personally think it’s a load of rubbish! But I know there are people out there now who think that because they may have a curvy figure, a few freckles on their face, or even a few scars… nobody will find them attractive. What the media seem to forget is that everyone’s idea of ‘perfect’ is very different. I personally love gothic guys with long dark hair, dark eyes, tattoos etc. A lot of people hate this look, but being very dark myself this is what appeals to me. I can hardly see the next issue of Cosmopolitan, Elle or Vogue promoting this is ‘perfect’. (I never read these magazines by the way. As far as I’m concerned, most of their models are fake and the fashion leaves a lot to be desired.)

When I first introduced Eligos into my novels, I described him as being this “perfect” looking guy. Not a hair out of place or single blemish on his skin. As I wrote I thought “hmmm, that won’t last.” I then, in Torment, wrote that he had a secret, something he wouldn’t show Keira, the woman he loves, for fear she will be repulsed by him and not be able to love him because of his true physical appearance. But oh how wrong he was. She loved him for who he was, how he was, and the scars he had, although they affected his appearance drastically, they didn’t faze her at all. She still loved him, and even more so once he had built up the confidence to show her the real him. I’ve had comments posted by people who have read this novel and I must say some of them have really moved me. One example is the following...

I've learnt quite a lot today, and most of it has been influenced by Lindsay Anne Kendal. I am what I am, I don't need to be skinny or gorgeous, I don't need to be fake. All I need to be is what I am. I am what and who I am due to the people around me that love me. And I want to say one thing to you all, Thank You. Lindsay you have now got the title of my role model x x x x x x x (Katharine Louise-Rose Taylor – UK)

This message meant an awful lot to me. It proved that people were realising they do not have to be how the media dictates in order to be beautiful and feel confident.

There are a lot of hidden messages in my books, they are all things I feel strongly about. I want people who read this book to be able to realise that you don’t have to be “perfect” in order for someone to truly love you. That beauty is based on far more than just physical appearance. I want them to realise that everyone’s idea of perfection is different and that no matter how badly scarred someone may be, there is someone out there who will love them more than life itself, just for being them.

I hope that will answer peoples questions, and I hope they too will follow in Keira’s footsteps and fall in love with Eligos. I also hope readers will pick up on more of the messages in these stories.

If you wish to learn more about Lindsay, you may find her at:

Official website
Her blog
Goodreads page
Facebook page

Upcoming release of Operation S&D

I am so excited to announce the upcoming release of Operation S&D . This book starts where Operation DFC ended and is quite the thrill ...