Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book Review of “Martha’s Freedom Train”, by C. LaRene Hall and Book Giveaway

Martha’s Freedom Train, by C. LaRene Hall, tells the tale of a young slave girl before the American Civil War. Fearful that their master’s attentions are turning too uncomfortably towards their daughter, Martha’s parents decide to flee the plantation with her and travel the Underground Railroad in a bid for freedom in the North. Unfortunately, the frigid temperatures the family is forced to navigate causes Martha’s mother to contract pneumonia. Martha’s father is faced with a difficult choice: leave his wife behind and hope that she will recover in the care of some kind strangers who are assisting them with their flight, or take the risk of sending young Martha ahead on her own…not to the North, but to the West with a train of pioneers that they have encountered.

Martha’s father chooses the latter, promising to come West to find her as soon as Martha’s mother is well. So young Martha tearfully bids her parents farewell and begins a fateful journey to the Great Salt Lake Valley in the company of a band of Mormon Pioneers who have been expelled from their homes in Illinois by the violent intolerance of mobs.

Martha’s Freedom Train is a historical fiction novel written for children ages 10 and above. Ms. Hall’s prose is smooth and will provide an easy read for this age group. Youthful readers will learn much about the fears and challenges faced by runaway slaves in pre-Civil War America, the Underground Railroad and how it worked, frontier life as Martha crosses the plains with her new friends, all while discovering her own self-worth as she learns that all people, regardless of color or race, are children of God. The illustrations by Annette Stonehocker are charming and enhance the story in a delightful manner.

I highly recommend Martha’s Freedom Train as an inviting way for children to learn about important aspects of America’s past.

You can read more about C. Larene Hall and her writing on her blog, C. LaRene Hall.

You can also win your very own autographed copy of Martha's Freedom Train by visiting C. LaRene's blog, and emailing one title on her "Recent Books That I've Read" list to Please be sure to type "Martha's Freedom Train" in the subject line, and INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS. Deadline to send me your entry is Monday, August 3, midnight PST. The winner will be announced on August 4th.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Review of "Illuminations of the Heart"

Since I'm completely confused about my WIP, I might as well share a review of a book I've actually finished! That would be my recently published medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart. You can read a review if you'd like by Tina Scott at Totally Tina. (I love her blog's name!)

And don't forget that my Book Cornucopia Drawing is still ongoing, but the deadline is coming up fast. Click here for details, and enter by July 31, midnight PST.

Heroines, heroines...

Did I say I knew who my new heroine is? I may have spoken too soon! I'm pretty sure Leonia is gone for good. It might still be Joslin. But with my WIP proving itself to have a stubborn will of its own, it might turn out to be someone I (and my hero) haven't even met yet!

Or maybe (gasp!) I'm not even writing a romance at all this time. If anybody knows, it certainly isn't me! Looks like I'll just have to keep writing to find out what the heck this next book of mine wants to be!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Sweetest Romance Chat Scavenger Hunt

I’ve been invited to participate in The Sweetest Romance Chat Scavenger Hunt that is going on today. E.A. asked me to include my clue in a blog about one of my favorite books. Oddly enough, the title that sprang immediately to my mind was The Three MUSKETEERS, by Alexandre Dumas. I have friends who prefer his more “serious/complex” titles, like The Count of Monte Cristo or The Man in the Iron Mask…both excellent works, I’ll grant you. But my favorite of all Dumas’ works remains The Three MUSKETEERS. Why? For one thing, I love the humor. Life can be depressing enough without ending my day with a sad, depressing or tragic novel. The Three MUSKETEERS always makes me smile, sometimes it even makes me grin, and occasionally I find myself chuckling right out loud with the larger-than-life adventures of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and of course, D’Artangnan. Another thing I love about The Three MUSKETEERS is the dialogue. The dialogue is so clever and witty, it always surprises me that it was written 165 years ago. Many 20th and 21st Century authors (myself included!) could only dream of writing such spot-on perfect dialogue. But as much as I enjoy the humor and dialogue, what keeps bringing me back to re-read The Three MUSKETEERS again and again is the theme of friendship that lies within its pages. “One for all and all for one” may seem a cliché today, but it reflects an unbreakable bond between four men whose love and loyalty to one another transcends all challenges, whether external (physical danger) or internal (personal self-interest). That friendship shines as a beacon throughout the tale. What might any of us give to have three such faithful, unshakeable friends of our own!

So, have you guessed the clue you need to take back to The Sweetest Romance chat room with you? Yep, the word is “MUSKETEER”! Now click here and you will be directed back to the chat room. Just don’t forget the clue when you get there!

For more information on The Sweetest Romance, please visit

And while you're here, click here to check out my Book Cornucopia Drawing!

Illuminations of the Heart - on sale at Amazon!

Illuminations of the Heart is currently on sale at Amazon for only $14! This would be a great time to give it a try!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Interview and Giveaway with Regency Romance Author, Jaimey Grant

Today I present the second interview in the three Regency romance author installments I promised you! And yes, I have contacted the third author and she has agreed to do an interview with me in August, so unless some unforeseen "life events" trip us up, I will be able to keep my triple interview promise to you. :-) In fact, this is proving to be so much fun (for me, at least), that I may round up some additional historical fiction authors to interview in the future. Time will tell...
But for now, let me introduce you to Regency romance author, Jaimey Grant. I hope you enjoy what follows. And yes, we have another giveaway at the end of the interview, so stay tuned to find out how you can win your choice of Jaimey Grant titles at the end!
JDP: Jaimey, how long have you been reading Regency romances?
Jaimey: Only ten years or so, actually. I got a bit of a late start. It was actually several years after that before I even picked up Pride and Prejudice.
JDP: What was the first Regency romance you ever read? (Mine was Friday’s Child, by Georgette Heyer.)
Jaimey: Mine was A Desperate Gamble, a Zebra Regency by Janice Bennett that I borrowed from my mom. I loved the romance and the mystery of the story. Later, I acquired my own copy and it has always been one of my favorites.
JDP: When did you first realize you wanted to write Regency romances?
Jaimey: A year or so after I got married. I viewed it as a sort of challenge, really. My family kept telling me that I knew so much about the time period that I could write them myself. End of story.
JDP: Or perhaps you mean, “The beginning of the story.” :-) Which Regency romance authors have most influenced you in your love for the Regency period?
Jaimey: Many of the lesser known authors who wrote for Zebra and Signet had a huge influence on me. I loved the different styles of writing and the different "takes" on the time period.
Specifically, I have to mention Patricia Veryan. I love the amount of drama she was able to incorporate in her novels while leaving out the graphic love scenes. She proved over and over that you don't need those scenes to write an emotionally involved love story.
Oddly, I'm also largely influenced by some Gothic authors such as Victoria Holt, Madeleine Brent, and Clara Wimberly. I love spine-tingling tales that leave the ghosts out of it.
JDP: My sister is a big Patricia Veryan fan and I’ve enjoyed some Victoria Holt, though it’s been many years since I’ve read her. I’ll have to check out Madeleine Brent and Clara Wimberly. Thanks for the tips! Moving onto another subject, I’m always interested in how authors research their historical novels. Could you tell us a little about how you researched the Regency era for your novels?
Jaimey: I've read some general texts on the period but mostly, I turn to the Internet. It is truly amazing the kind of information you can find online. Some of the most obscure details I've managed to clear up with a simple google search. More recently, Google Books has
been incredibly helpful. It was romance author Courtney Milan ( who suggested looking a word up in Google Books if you are unsure of its usage at the time. By using the Google Book advanced search feature, you can search for a particular word and filter by publication year.
JDP: I just recently had my first experience with Google Books and am eager to learn more about this service. Can you share with us your top three favorite Regency romance research books or other resources?
Jaimey: Only three? Hmmm. I would have to mention Nancy Mayer, Regency Researcher. Her website is located at
Nancy is a wonderfully nice lady who is willing to answer obscure questions.

Google Books definitely have a top spot on my research “shelf.” I have found many, many old titles with full previews available from the time period that were far more beneficial than I ever imagined.
I love the blog, Jane Austen's World. ( This blog is a rather recent discovery for me and I have found so many interesting tidbits of information about the Regency period. Some things I have been able to use and others were more for personal entertainment.

JDP: Are there any historical figures from the Regency era who particularly intrigue you?
Jaimey: A few, I admit, but not many. It's not so much the historical figure but rather the differing portrayals of certain famous personages. Sally Jersey, Beau Brummell, Lord Byron, Lord Castlereagh and recently, Nathaniel Rothschild and Dr. John Keate, the headmaster of Eton from 1809-1834 are some that I find rather fascinating. But honestly, I'm far more interested in the fictional characters that live in my head. :)
JDP: I don’t know anything about Nathaniel Rothschild (beyond the Rothschild name) or Dr. John Keate. You’ve piqued my interest! Do you have an all-time favorite Regency romance?
Jaimey: Other than my own? :) Honestly, I don't think I really have ONE that stands out above all others. I have a few that I read over and over when I need a laugh; The French Affair by Marion Chesney, Annabella's Diamond by Judith A Lansdowne, The Painted Lady by Barbara Metzger.
I take that back. The one that stands out above all others would have to be Janice Bennett's A Desperate Gamble. I know this has everything to do with it being the first Regency I ever read.
JDP: What inspired you to write your Regency romance, Deception?

Jaimey: Ok, this series started with Angel and I don't especially want to get into the whys on that one. After writing it, I found the hero's friend Adam very appealing. I wrote his story, Betrayal, where we meet Levi for the first time. I never intended to write Levi's story but there was something about him that I couldn't leave alone. He's not a tortured hero, just a long-suffering one. He isn't plagued with feelings of self-doubt or guilt. He is pretty straightforward and open. Basically, I was inspired to write this story because Levi was different. Of course, there are also his friends. :)
JDP: Tell us a little bit about Deception.
Jaimey: Deception features Levi Greville, cousin of Betrayal's heroine. He is facing debtor's prison and decides to fix his problems the time-honored way: He'll marry money. He meets Aurora, the woman of his dreams but resists her when he discovers she is not the heiress he requires. She is not as poor as she pretends but she is desperate for a husband who loves her, not her money. An indiscretion leads to a speedy wedding. Then, Aurora's lies begin to unravel, leading to kidnapping, marital strife, and the possibility of death. Sounds a bit melodramatic, doesn't it?
JDP: It sounds intriguing. What project are you working on next?
Jaimey: Angel will get published next, the story of Connor and Verena from Betrayal. It is the prequel that I know some have been eagerly awaiting. wink, wink
JDP: (I think those winks were aimed at me. :-) )

Jaimey: After that is a book titled Intrigue. The connection? In Deception, Levi has a friend who is mentioned in one, maybe two scenes. His name is Gideon. Intrigue is his story. I am now in the painful first rewrite. I am also working on a sequel to Intrigue that takes place, technically, after the Regency time period and revolves around the prison ships.

JDP: You are self-published. What made you choose that route?
Jaimey: I never really considered trying a traditional publisher. I write romances without graphic sex that are not paranormal; not exactly the best-selling type of romance. Besides that, I'm a control freak. I realize that traditional publishers put up the funds for publishing but I still don't care for how much control they take away from the author.
JDP: Where can readers obtain a copies of your books?
Jaimey: Paperbacks are available through and autographed copies through . Ebooks can be purchased from Amazon or (In fact, the e-books are on sale at for 50% off until July 31st.)
JDP: Thank you for joining us today, Jaimey!
Learn more about Jaimey Grant by visiting her website, becoming a Jaimey Grant fan on Facebook, or following her on Twitter.
Now for the promised giveaway: Jaimey is offering an autographed copy of the winner's choice of Jaimey Grant titles (e-book format for foreign entries), the winner's name to be drawn two weeks from today on Monday, August 3rd. That means the deadline to enter this giveaway drawing is Sunday, August 2nd, midnight PST.
Once again, there are THREE ways to enter (meaning, you can enter three times if you do all three of the following):
(1) Email me at WITH YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS. Type "JDP NEWS Contest" in the subject line, and type, "I need more Regency Romance in my life!" in the body of the email.
(2) Visit Jaimey's blog and become a "follower", then EMAIL ME AT TO TELL ME YOU'VE BECOME A FOLLOWER OF JAIMEY'S AND INCLUDE YOUR MAILING ADDRESS IN YOUR EMAIL. Please type: "Jaimey Grant Follower" in the subject line. (If you don't email me, I won't know that you've become a follower and won't be able to give you "credit".)
(3) Leave a comment on this blog about my interview with Jaimey, then EMAIL ME AT TO TELL ME YOU LEFT A COMMENT AND INCLUDE YOUR MAILING ADDRESS IN YOUR EMAIL.
You may notice I'm being a bit of a stickler this time about sending me your mailing address. That's because the person I drew as winner of the Donna Hatch giveaway did NOT include her mailing address and did not respond to my email when I informed her she was the winner, so she consequently forfeited her prize to a very happy runner-up who DID INCLUDE HER MAILING ADDRESS as I'd requested in the giveaway rules. This time, if I draw the name of someone who fails to send me her mailing address, you will have 48 hours to reply to any email I send you informing you of your win, after which your prize, too, will be awarded to someone else who entered the contest and abided by the rules.
Okay, now that I've vented on that subject...let the new giveaway competition begin!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Review of "Illuminations of the Heart"

The first review of Illuminations of the Heart is in! It earned 5 stars on Teens Read Too!

Home and a key WIP decision

I'm home from an AMAZING writers retreat! I attended some fantastic classes led by some fantastic authors, and hopefully, my next book will be much the better for it. I also got some valuable writing done. In case you've been wondering, it looks like Joslin has won the battle for the heroine of my next WIP. I'm sad to lose Leonia, but maybe she'll find her way into a story of her own in the future.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

And I'm off...tomorrow, anyway

I'm off to a writers retreat tomorrow. Looking forward to cooler temperatures than 110 and hoping to get some progress made on my new WIP. Maybe by the time I get back, I'll know who my heroine is!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Three New Reviews and a Giveaway

In the past two days, there have been three new reviews posted of my medieval romance, Loyalty's Web. Each one is unique, and one of the three reviews is offering a giveaway of Loyalty's Web along with the review. You'll have to check out all three, though, to find out which has the giveaway. ;-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"Illuminations of the Heart" Is Here!

Illuminations of the Heart is now available for shipping at It's also posted on Amazon with a 2-4 week wait. If you combine it with an order for Loyalty's Web from Amazon, you may have a bit of a wait but you can get free shipping. Order it from DeseretBook and it'll be on its way to you within 2 business days. It's a good deal either way!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Who's Who in my new WIP?

Is Joslin the villain or heroine of my next novel? If heroine, then what do I do with Leonia? Joslin will force the story to end one way, Leonia allows it to end completely differently. I want Leonia's ending, but what if I want it with Joslin? What to do, what to do? Can this story ever work? (Just thinking out loud. Sorry!)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Another Review of Loyalty's Web

A review of Loyalty's Web has just been posted on the Teens Read Too! website. You can read the review at This is a great website for teens, and not just because they reviewed my book. :-) If you have teens who love to read, check out Teens Read Too! and have them sign up for the Teens Read Too! newsletter.

Update On Winner of "The Stranger She Married"

Since I never received a reply from Los Angelista for her mailing address to send her the copy she won of Donna Hatch's Regency romance, The Stranger She Married, I drew a new winner today. Jane Cheung of New York, congratulations! You're our new winner, and thank you for entering our giveaway drawing! (And since you remembered to send me your address with your entry, there's no chance of you losing your prize. A gentle reminder to all contest entrants in the future who don't want to risk forfeiting their prizes to someone else. :-) )

New Reviews of Loyalty's Web

Check out new reviews of Loyalty's Web by Danyelle Ferguson at Queen of the Clan and Nichole Giles at Nichole's Musings!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Book Cornucopia Drawing!

I’m in the mood to celebrate! We’ve just finished a very successful Summer Treasure Hunt—30 days of fantastic prizes! Click here to read the list of prizes and winners.

But I’m not through giving stuff away! Usually, I like to celebrate the “milestones” along the way to the publication of a new novel…signing the contract, seeing the cover art for the first time…and now, learning that my new medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart, is available for pre-order at! Since I kind of slipped up on the individual celebrations this time, I’ve decided to celebrate all three milestones rolled into one.

How am I going to do this? By celebrating a book with more books! I was wandering through Barnes & Noble the other day and found a tote bag with a wonderful quote by Abraham Lincoln: “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” So I’ve decided to give away this tote bag filled with some of my favorite books to one lucky winner.

The books I’ve chosen are:

The Once and Future King, by T.H. White: a retelling of the King Arthur story (and basis for the musical, Camelot)

(different cover art above)

The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas: I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read this one!

Crocodile on the Sandbank, by Elizabeth Peters: the first volume in the Amelia Peabody Mystery series set in Victorian Egypt. If you think this one is funny, the sequels only get better!

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte: one of the few “classics” that literally kept me up reading till all hours of the night

A Man For All Seasons, by Robert Bolt: a play about Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII, subsequently turned into one of my all-time favorite movies

Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes: yes, a YA book, but one I read over and over again through high school and a favorite of mine to this day

(different cover art above)

The Convenient Marriage, by Georgette Heyer: a delightful Regency romance by the worthy successor of Jane Austen (and yes, another all-time favorite book of mine)

And last but not least…a copy of my first medieval romance, Loyalty’s Web, because although my new romance, Illuminations of the Heart can certainly stand on its own, it’ll be all that more meaningful if you’ve read Loyalty’s Web first.

And don’t forget the tote bag!

How can you win this cornucopia of reading prizes? Simply send me an email to and, in keeping with Abraham Lincoln’s quote, tell me which of the books on this list you’ve never read. Please type “Book Cornucopia Drawing” in the subject line, and be sure to include your mailing address. If I have to try to track you down afterwards because I don’t know where to send your prize, it may end up going to someone else. (Sorry, I’ve had a few bad experiences with that lately.)

Deadline for entries is July 31st, midnight PST, with the winner announced on August 1st .

I'm looking forward to your entries! And thanks for helping me celebrate!

Medieval Research with Joyce returns!

I've (finally!) revived my badly neglected medieval research blog, medieval research with joyce, with a blog about researching medieval illumination. If you're interested in such subjects, hop on over there and take a look. I hope to be more consistent in my research posts in the future!