Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Linda Weaver Clarke: Author Interview and Giveaway

Today I have another author interview to share with you. This one is with Linda Weaver Clarke, who writes sweet historical romances appropriate for both adults and teens. Linda writes with a unique perspective, using her own family history as resource ideas for her novels. I hope you enjoy the interview and yes, stick around, because there will be a giveaway at the end!

JDP: Thank you for joining us today, Linda. Please tell us a little about your "Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho" series.

Linda: In my family saga series, I have set my story in Paris, Idaho…the place that my ancestors settled in 1863. They were the very first pioneers that settled that area. Also, I love inserting real ancestral or family experiences into my novels. To me, their experiences have always intrigued me. It brings a story to life. For example, in Melinda and the Wild West, I inserted an experience that happened to my dad. When he was young, his father asked him to bury the skunks he had shot. Before my dad buried them, he drained their scent glands into a bottle. He called it “skunk oil.” Then he took it to school to show his friends. While explaining how he had done it, he must have gotten a little too excited because he accidentally dropped the bottle and it splattered on the floor. The scent of concentrated skunk oil permeated the room with a stench that was indescribable. Everyone ran out of the school as fast as their little legs would go. And the teacher followed close behind. My father said that he was a hero for one day because he got school out for his classmates. This novel eventually won an award as one of the semi-finalists for the “Reviewers Choice Award 2007.”

JDP: The first book in your series, Melinda and the Wild West, is set in 1896. What did you find most fascinating about this time period?

Linda: I learned so much about Bear Lake Valley. I found out that Butch Cassidy robbed the bank in Montpelier in 1896 and they kept a complete record of it, even what the teller said at the end of the bank robbery. I was able to use it in my story. (By the way, I found out the town of Montpelier puts on a reenactment of the bank robbery every year. I thought that was interesting.) I also found out that they painted pencils yellow for the very first time and for a very good reason. I added this to my novel and received many e-mails about it. I also found out that the famous Ice Palace was built in 1896 in Leadville, Colorado. It was so intriguing that I decided Melinda was going to visit this place. It was made of five thousand tons of ice blocks formed into the shape of a magnificent palace, measuring 325 feet by 180 feet with towers reaching 90 feet high, and it enclosed five acres of ground. Inside the palace, there was a dance floor, a restaurant, a gaming room, and a 180-foot ice rink. It was illuminated with electric lights that sparkled against the ice blocks. It was built in January 1896 and melted in March.

JDP: Wow, a real Ice Palace made of ice! That must have been something to see it melt in March! I’m always interested in how authors research their historical novels. Could you tell us a little about how you researched the historical background for Melinda and the Wild West?

Linda: I put a great deal of research into my novels. I search books and the Internet as long as it has a bibliography attached to back up the information. Then you can add this to the back of your book for those who would like to research it themselves.

JDP: Can you share with us your top three favorite research books or other resources?

Linda: One of my favorite books I researched was a booklet called Old Ephraim by Newell J. Crookston. It’s the story of the “last giant grizzly of Bridgerland.” For example, the subplot for Jenny’s Dream is about a ten-foot grizzly bear taken from Idaho history. The research about this old grizzly was exciting to me because I had grown up with the stories of Old Ephraim. He wreaked havoc wherever he went, slaughtering sheep and calves, and scaring sheepherders so badly that they actually quit their jobs. With one blow of his paw, he could break the back of a cow. I found that he was the smartest bear that ever roamed the Rocky Mountains. No one could catch him. Every bear trap they set was tossed many yards away from where they had put it, and the ones that weren’t tripped had Old Three Toes tracks all around it. He was too smart to be caught. It took one man that could outsmart this bear: Frank Clark from Malad, Idaho! In this story, I included every detail about this bear and his deeds.

The second book I enjoyed is called Land of the Sky-Blue Water: A History of the L.D.S. Settlement of the Bear Lake Valley written by Russell R. Rich. In my research for David and the Bear Lake Monster, I found that people really believe in this legend. The mystery of the Bear Lake Monster has been an exciting part of Idaho history ever since the early pioneers. Some people claimed to have seen it and gave descriptions of it. The monster’s eyes were flaming red and its ears stuck out from the sides of its skinny head. Its body was long, resembling a gigantic alligator, and it could swim faster than a galloping horse. Of course, it only came out in the evening or at dusk. Throughout the years, no one has ever disproved the Bear Lake Monster. A bunch of scientists tried to discredit the monster and said it was a huge codfish that was shipped in from the East but could not prove this theory. When Charles C. Rich, the founder of this settlement, heard about the monster and what people were saying, he began taking notes, writing all the interesting facts down. Does the Bear Lake Monster exist? Whatever conclusion is drawn, the legend still lives on and brings a great deal of mystery and excitement to the community.

Another booklet that I thoroughly enjoyed was a dictionary of the language for the roaring 20’s. I loved it. Elena, Woman of Courage is the last in this series and is set in 1925. It was a blast to research. I found words that I didn’t even know such as: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Baloney! You slay me! If you were All Wet, you were mistaken or wrong about something. If a man said, “Hey, look at those gams!” What were gams? Of all things, it’s a woman’s legs. When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, he was goofy. If a person was a fool, he was a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for kissing or romance, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” I was able to use all these words and much more in my book. The language was great!

JDP: Are there any historical figures from the era of Melinda and the Wild West who particularly intrigue you?

Linda: Robert LeRoy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy, was interesting. He was born in Beaver, Utah, and was raised by kind and religious LDS parents. He worked on a ranch near Circleville, Utah. While a teenager, Parker became a good friend with an old rustler named Mike Cassidy. After Parker left home, he took on the name of his mentor. Cassidy was known for his quick wit, charm, fearlessness, and bravery, which made him a good leader of his gang and very likeable. Cassidy and his gang were known for the longest sequence of successful robberies in the history of the American West. As far as the historians know, he never killed a person the whole time he was an outlaw.

JDP: What inspired you to write your "Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho" series?

Linda: Each book was inspired by something that happened in my family. For example, in Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, I based this story around the courtship of my parents. They wrote letters to one another before they ever met. She said that she fell in love with the soul of my father, what was deep down inside and they didn’t even know what one another looked like. The day they met, my mother told me that her heart leapt within her and a warm glow filled her soul and she knew she would marry this man. I knew this would be the basis of my next novel, but there’s one difference. In my story, you don’t know who the mysterious stranger is until the end of the book. Some readers guessed right while others were pleasantly surprised.

My great grandmother, Sarah Eckersley Robinson, was my inspiration for David and the Bear Lake Monster. Sarah lost her hearing as a child but she never let her deafness stop her from developing her talents. I took a lot of her experiences from her biography and gave them to my heroine to bring some reality into my story. Sarah was known as one of the most graceful dancers in town. She was known for gliding across the floor with ease, with just a touch of her partner’s hand. Sarah had such agility and gracefulness while swimming, that people would actually throw coins in the water so they could watch her dive after them. Once an intruder hid in her bedroom under her bed, thinking he could take advantage of her since she was deaf. He must have thought she was an easy victim but was sadly mistaken. She swatted him out from under her bed with a broom, and all the way out of the house, and down the street for a couple blocks, whacking him as she ran. What a courageous woman!

Jenny’s Dream was inspired by events that happened to me in my youth. I learned that forgiveness was essential for true happiness, and that is why I felt this story needed to be told. Jenny must learn to forgive and put her past behind her. This story is about accomplishing one’s dreams and the miracle of forgiveness, with a bit of adventure from Old Ephraim, the ten-foot grizzly bear. To read an excerpt from each story, visit

JDP: Each of your books sounds unique and fascinating! You present workshops entitled "Family Legacy Workshop". Would you explain to us what that is and what you teach in your workshops?

Linda: I teach people how to take their family history or their own autobiography and turn it into interesting stories. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. If these stories are unwritten, then they’ll be lost forever. Our children need to understand their ancestors and be proud of them. Leon Garfield said: “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” What I’m teaching people to do is how to paint their stories, to be the storyteller. To read samples of what you can do with your stories, visit and read the “short stories” of my ancestors.

JDP: What a wonderful concept for your workshops! Are you working on any new projects?

Linda: I’m working on a mystery series. I always enjoy putting a little history in each of my novels. The mysteries of the Anasazi Indians, the Mayas, Montezuma’s Treasure, and the Lost Dutchman Mine have intrigued archaeologists and scientists for many years. In the Adventures of John and Julia Evans, I delve into such mysteries. The first book in this series is Anasazi Intrigue.

JDP: Where can readers obtain copies of your books?

Linda: From my website, Amazon, and bookstores who buy from Baker and Taylor Distribution. I also have a blog where I let people know when my books are out. It’s

JDP: What a treasure trove of history and interesting facts you are, Linda! Thank you so much for joining us today!

Now for the giveaway! Linda has agreed to donate an autographed copy of the first volume in her "A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho" series, Melinda and the Wild West, to one lucky reader of this interview! Here is how you can enter to win a copy:

(1) Leave a comment on this blog telling me why you'd like to win this book.

(2) Leave a comment on this blog telling me the name of one historical person that you'd like to meet and why.

(3) Leave a comment on this blog telling me the name of one of your ancestors you'd like to meet and why. (Doesn't have to be a direct line relative. I have an ancestor "cousin" who stole a frying pan and beat up a Catholic priest, whom I'd like to ask, "What were you thinking???")

Please leave a SEPARATE COMMENT for each of the above, then EMAIL your name and mailing address (just once) to, with "JDP NEWS Giveaway" in the subject line, telling me you've entered my drawing. That will save us all kinds of time in trying to track you down if you win! Each comment will count as a separate entry, so comment three times for three chances to win!

Deadline for entries is Sunday, November 15, midnight PST. The winner will be announced here on this blog on Monday, November 16.

Have fun and good luck!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Adventures at My Costco Book Signings

The first thing I did when I learned that I would be doing book signings for my medieval novel, Illuminations of the Heart, at Costco stores in Arizona was hop on the internet to see if I could find any tips for “how to do a Costco book signing”. While I found several articles and tips for book signings in general, to my dismay, I only came across one Costco-specific blog about doing book signings there. While I appreciated reading about this author’s experience, I wanted more! What should I expect when I got to the store? How do you approach people? WHAT DO I DO???

I understand that book signings are a common occurrence in Utah Costco’s, so maybe Utah authors talk between themselves to get tips. Such signings are NOT common in Arizona, so I had no one to ask. Yes, my publisher gave me some suggestions, but until you experience it yourself, it’s hard to really comprehend what to expect. So I decided to blog about my first week’s experience, so that when some other hapless author Googles “book signings at Costco”, maybe he or she will be able to find two blogs to give them some clues, instead of just one!

Thursday, October 22, 2009:

I arrive at the Gilbert Costco on Arizona Avenue at approximately 12:45 PM. I go first to the service/membership desk intending to ask for the manager, but the line is so long there, I realize my book signing could be over by the time I get any help. So I go back to the front of the store and tell the Costco person in the doorway that I’m here for a book signing and I was told to speak to X-manager. He calls said manager on a walkie-talkie, tells her that I’m here, and points me in the right direction to meet her. She is kind and welcoming and seems excited to have me in the store. She finds an assistant and they set me up with a table next to the book aisle. By then, my editor, who has flown down from Salt Lake City to offer me moral support my first week, has arrived bearing a poster to be set up at the entrance of the store announcing my book signing to everyone who enters. We take half the copies of my book from its “regular spot” on the book shelves, and arrange them attractively on the table facing the traffic in the store. And then… Ah, that was the question that faced me. And then…what do I do next?

 First I stand awkwardly beside the table, wondering what I should do with my hands as people troop past with their giant Costco baskets, basically ignoring me. That’s when it hits me. My hands. I need something in them. Fortunately, I have brought a stack of bookmarks along, so I scoop some up and begin asking everyone that passes me if they’d like a free bookmark. Well, okay, not everyone. If they were talking on a cell phone, I didn’t offer them a bookmark. If they looked pointedly away from me as they walked past, I didn’t offer them a bookmark. If they were chatting animatedly with a companion as they walked past me, I generally didn’t offer them a bookmark. (I’ve used the “chatting animatedly” with a friend technique to avoid many an unwanted conversation in a mall or store myself.) However, many people did take bookmarks. When they did, I smiled and thanked them. If they said, “No, thank you” and kept walking, I kept smiling. After all, at least they added “thank you” after the “No,” and I figured the least I could do was appreciate them being polite when they turned me down. If the person hesitated, or wandered closer to the table, that’s when I launched my “pitch”, giving them a general description of my book and encouraging them to browse through a copy if they’d like. The price was stamped right on the front of the book, but if a person happened not to notice and asked me how much it cost, I took the opportunity to flip it over and show them the retail price, then flipped back to the price on the front, pointing out what a bargain they were getting by buying their copy at Costco rather than in another bookstore or on the internet. That pushed more than one person over the edge into buying a copy then and there.

In a four hour period, I signed 23 copies, and sold two more off the shelf that weren’t signed. I don’t know if that was a good number, but I was thrilled to sell any books at all!

Note: My table was set up right next to Glenn Beck’s latest bestseller, and NONE of his books sold in that 4 hour period, so I can honestly say that at least for four hours on October 22 at the Gilbert Costco, I outsold bestselling author Glenn Beck!

Friday, October 23, 2009:

Today, I pick up my editor so that we arrive together at the Costco in Tempe. Unlike my fumbling around the day before, my editor knows exactly where to go to locate the manager. Unfortunately, the manager we were told to talk to isn’t in that day. The manager covering for her says no one told him about the book signing, but he adds that we’re welcome to do a signing there anyway. He goes back into the office for a few minutes, then comes back out admitting that there is indeed an email about our book signing, but that no one had read it. He sets us up with a table twice the size as the one we had in Gilbert, brings two vases of flowers (real, not fake!) to decorate our table with, brings us each a bottle of water and cup of ice, and an “executive chair” for us to take turns sitting in. My editor gets the poster set up at the front of the store while I begin my bookmark-handing-out routine.

I quickly make a few discoveries: the traffic in the Tempe store is much lighter for the same time period (1-5 PM) than the Gilbert store the day before; and people in general are more standoffish. Fewer people were willing to even accept a bookmark at this store, though they were again polite and at least said, “No, thank you”, when they turned me down. My editor, during a lull, wandered off through the store for awhile and came back wide eyed with wonder, exclaiming, “There is a HUGE liquor section over there!” Yep, I told her, “You’re not in Utah anymore.” LOL!

I only signed and sold 15 books at this location. I might have sold 16, but one woman wanted it in Spanish and cast longing, regretful looks at my table as she walked away. Ah, well. Let’s not judge a store by one day alone. I will be back at this location on a different day of the week next week. I’ll keep the jury out until I have a few more days to compare last week to.

Saturday, October 24, 2009:

The “feel” at the Chandler Costco was more similar to the store in Gilbert than the one in Tempe. People seemed friendlier, more willing to accept bookmarks and occasionally pause to chat. The traffic seemed good when I first got there, and I almost immediately signed and sold 3 copies of my book. The sales slowed down and spaced out after that, and gradually the traffic began to die down during the mid-point of the day, to pick up again during the last hour or so. I sold 23 books, and possibly one off the shelf at this location.

Was my first week a success? Since I really have nothing to judge it by, I can’t really say. At least I’ll now have a benchmark for sales comparisons when I resume my signings later this week. So just let me end with two notes from observation or experience:

Observation: Handing out bookmarks is a good way to break the ice, even with people who turn you down. But when you make bookmarks, ALWAYS be sure to print something on the back, as well as the front. While the front of my bookmarks have a picture of my book and a positive quote from a reviewer, the back of my bookmarks have a summary of my book’s plot. I watched the people who accepted my bookmarks as they walked away, and almost without exception, every one of them slowed down their walking pace and flipped over my bookmark to read what was written on the back. One or two of those people (who didn’t pause to listen to me “pitch” my book) came back later and bought a book. Hopefully, others will return another day to buy a copy or order one from the internet. Or pass the bookmark onto a friend who might do so!

Experience: Unless you’re a well known author, be prepared for people who wander over to your table to look you square in the face and say, “I’ve never heard of you.” The first time this happened to me, it quite took me aback and I wasn’t sure how to respond. What came out of my mouth was, “That’s because I’m a new author. This is only my second book.” To my surprise (and relief), as soon as I said that, the invisible chip I’d envisioned on their shoulder came right off and they turned just as friendly as can be, willing to listen to me pitch, and yes, even buy a copy of my book.

I wish I could tell you what store I'm going to be at next, but I haven't received my schedule for this week. I'll keep my schedule updated as I receive it. Just click on the hand with the pen in my left hand sidebar to check out my dates as I learn and post them!

Me and my editor!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Winner of "Martha's Freedom Train"

Congratulations to Donna Hatch, winner of an autographed copy of the children's historical novel, Martha's Freedom Train, by C. LaRene Hall!

Thank you to everyone who entered. And stay tuned...I'll be posting a new author interview with a new book giveaway sometime next week!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart at Costco!

Remember that "new venture" I mentioned yesterday that will leave me limited time for blogging in the immediate future? Well, that's due to the fact that Illuminations of the Heart is hitting the big time...sort of! For the next two and a half months, I will be signing copies of my sweet medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart, at various Costco's in Arizona. I'll be signing three days of the week, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons for four hours a day, rotating between four Costco stores in the Phoenix metropolitan area. However, though my book signings are only four hours each, my driving time back and forth to each of these signings will add another four hours to each of my days. So I'll be forced to cut back on some things such as email and...yes...daily blogging! If I have the energy, I'll try to share some of my Costco adventures with you along the way when I can. (If I have any adventures, that is.)

I'm posting my signing schedule below. If you live in southern Arizona, I would love to have you drop by and say "hi!", whether you buy a book or not. If you have friends or relatives who live in southern Arizona, I'd love to have them drop by and say "hi!" too! And if you drop by on Oct 22, 23, or 24, you'll also be able to meet my editor, who is flying all the way down from Utah to give me moral support my first week!

And remember, even if you already have a copy of Illuminations of the Heart...they make great Christmas gifts! :-)

Click on the city for each date for a link to the address and a map:

Thursday, Oct 22nd
1-5 PM             GILBERT

Friday, Oct  23rd
1-5 PM             TEMPE

Saturday, Oct 24th
1-5 PM             CHANDLER

Thursday, Oct 29th
1-5 PM             CANCELLED

Friday, Oct 30th
1-5 PM             TEMPE

Saturday, Oct 31st
1-5 PM             GILBERT

Thursday, Nov 5th
1-5 PM             TEMPE

Friday, Nov 6th
1-5 PM             MESA

Saturday, Nov 7th
1-5 PM             CHANDLER

Thursday, Nov 12th
1-5 PM             CHANDLER

Friday, Nov 13th
1-5 PM             GILBERT

Saturday, Nov 14th
1-5 PM             TEMPE

Thursday, Nov 19th
1-5 PM             MESA

Monday, Nov 23rd
1-5 PM             GILBERT

Wednesday, Nov 25th
1-5 PM             CHANDLER


Friday, Nov 27th
1-5 PM             GILBERT

Saturday, Nov 28th
1-5 PM             CHANDLER

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Mural chamber: chambers built inside the thickness of a castle's wall

Though I didn't use this term directly in my story, my character Acelet got thrown into a mural chamber in Illuminations of the Heart. But you'll have to read the book to find out who threw him in there and why!

And now Medieval Word of the Day is going on hiatus, because I've used up all the words from my glossary in Illuminations of the Heart, and I will soon be starting a new venture that will leave me with limited time for blogging. More about that tomorrow!

Thank you to all those who have faithfully followed along with my Medieval Word of the Day. I've enjoyed sharing these words with you! Medieval Word of the Day will return when I bring out a new book with a new glossary full of terms.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Norman Conquest Day!

Happy Norman Conquest Day! This year, Duke Wiliam (the standing knight, soon to be King William) is holding a council of war atop my cake, planning his invasion of England. (And yes, I know the armor and hair styles are all wrong for 1066. These knights are "representative", okay? Someday I'll track down some more authentic looking Norman and Saxon knights to put on my yearly cake!)

(And yes, someday I'm going to learn to take better pictures, too!)

Medieval Word of the Day

Mural tower: towers built into the castle walls

See all those towers along the wall? Each of those is a mural tower

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Gatehouse: the heavily fortified entrance to the castle complex

See those two towers with the "opening" at the end of the bridge? You'd have to fight your way through that gatehouse to gain access to the castle bailey and keep

(This is a picture of Bodiam Castle in Sussex, England)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Mead: a medieval garden designed to imitate a small meadow

The low-lying flowers this woman is sitting in is an example of a medieval "flowery mead"

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"By Love or By Sea" blog tour winner!

Congratulations to Wendy Richards, winner of Rachel Rager's blog tour drawing for her new sweet romance, By Love or By Sea!

Thank you to everyone who left comments on my review, and all the reviews along the way!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Review of "By Love or By Sea", by Rachel Rager

Today it's my honor to finish off the book blog tour for By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager. Stick around to read my interview with Rachel following my review and learn how you can win a copy of this sweet romance!

Back cover blurb for By Love or By Sea

Alice Lind Frank never forgot the boy she loved when she was just six years old, even after he was lost at sea. Now as a young woman, Alice has found happiness in living and working with her grandparents, and in the affections of Clarence Hielott, the wealthy shipyard owner who intends to make Alice his bride.
When a ragged sailor appears in town, Alice is reminded of the young boy who once held her heart. Upon learning that the sailor is in fact her childhood love, Caleb, she finds herself falling for him again.
But Clarence refuses to let this ghost from the past destroy his plans for the future. He exposes the secrets of Caleb’s past, and Alice realizes that the boy she once knew is now a man with a dark history. Soon Caleb and Clarence are locked in a fierce competition for Alice’s heart.

As a reader who is always interested in the “setting” of a story, I felt a bit muddled at first in By Love or By Sea, as I couldn’t quite pinpoint where the story was taking place. While it had a feel of a “historical”, rather than a “contemporary” romance, I admit I found myself stumbling a bit until I realized that Ms Rager has placed her story in a fantasy kingdom with enough roots to anchor it in a sense of reality, while yet brushing the story with the feeling of a fairytale romance. Once I found my bearings, I was able to sit back and enjoy the story.

The heroine, Alice, is a spunky but tender-hearted girl who always looks for the best in others. Her relationship with the elderly, embittered Betsy Winters challenges both her patience and preconceptions. How this relationship eventually impacts Alice’s romance with the love of her youth, Caleb, the reader will have to discover for herself.

Alice’s desire to see the best in others is challenged as the secrets of Caleb’s past begin to be revealed. Can she forgive the past hurts he’s caused her? And after all Caleb has been through, is there any “good” left in him for Alice to find?

My favorite line from By Love or By Sea: The sensation [Caleb’s] kiss evoked within Alice caused her knees to buckle, and she melted against his body like honey on a hot biscuit.

By Love or By Sea by Rachel Rager is a sweet, tender romance sure to be enjoyed by die-hard romantics everywhere.

I had the privilege to ask Rachel a few questions about herself and her writing. I hope you enjoy the exchange that follows.

JDP: What was your personal writing process for By Love or By Sea? Did you outline the story before you wrote it, or did you let the characters decide where they wanted to take the story?

Rachel: ~ By Love or By Sea was the third story I wrote. The first two stories were rough and I don’t know if they’ll ever surface in printed form. But Caleb is a young boy of six in the first story so I really had a long time to get to know him. I probably thought about this book about a year before it made its way onto paper. And though I’ve done outlines before, this one never had one. I just let the characters take me on their journey.

JDP: Your story takes place in a world that feels like a mix of historical "reality" and "fantasy". At one point you mention China and Great Britain, yet the "kingdom" where your story is set is clearly neither of these two places. How would you describe the "kingdom" in which your characters live? How do you envision their world?

Rachel: ~ The setting of my story is purely fictional. If I had to actually state a location on a map, I’d say it was somewhere between the Netherlands and Belgium. Originally Belgium was a part of the Netherlands but they rebelled and in 1830 or so, gaining their independence. In my mind, this kingdom is simply a small section of the land in between. Neither here nor there. Obviously I took some liberties. Since this kingdom exists in my mind, the weather obeys my every desire! (evil chuckle)

JDP: Thank you, Rachel! I was so curious about this. I'll have to re-read By Love or By Sea picturing this mythical kingdom on a mythical map! Did you do any research for the piracy angle of your story? If so, do you have any research sources that you would suggest to other authors? (I'm always interested in how authors research their stories. :-) )

Rachel: ~ I honestly knew nothing about ships when I started and only knew of pirates from what I’d seen in movies. (I live a sheltered life.) So I had to do quite a bit of research for this book. I don’t have as many resources in Casper as I’d like, so I spent quite a bit of time on-line. But I also spent quite a bit of time at my local library. I checked out whatever I thought might help and learned everything I could. I didn’t use an eighth of the material I found and a lot of it that made it into the book was cut. But I feel that the knowledge I gained was absolutely essential.

JDP: Was there something in particular that inspired you to write By Love or By Sea?

Rachel: ~ I was honestly writing my second book and was in the shower one day when I came up with the idea for By Love or By Sea. I wrote down some notes and when I was done with the one I was working on, I began By Love or By Sea. It wasn’t until I was partway done that I decided to use piracy. Of course, then I sat in front of the computer every day for an entire month trying to figure out a way to solve the problem I’d created! Again, the research came into play!

I guess I should fess up to one little secret. Caleb Newman was inspired by my little brother. Though my brother is quite different than Caleb, he has a similar build and attitude. My brother once dropped a plant in his bedroomroom, spilling soil all over the carpet while he was talking on the phone to a girl he didn’t particularly care for. And, not wanting my mother to hang him for making a mess on the carpet, but not knowing how to get off the phone with the girl, he decided to vacuum up the mess while on the phone! That made me laugh so hard and it just felt like something Caleb would do (if he lived in today’s world!) So, there you have it!

JDP: I hope the girl on the phone took the hint! On your website, you say that your favorite book that you've ever written is The Tiger, Unleashed. Would you like to share a little bit about that book with us and tell us why you love it so?

Rachel: ~ The Tiger, Unleashed is a book I finished right after By Love or By Sea. And I’m not sure what I love so much about it, but it is one of my favorites! (Maybe I fell in love with the hero!) The year is 1878 and Adella Barnes has lived a relatively normal life in her little sun-scorched California town. The daughter of the mayor, she struggles with the image people expect of her and how to deal with her betrothal to a man of her father’s choosing. When she meets a dark stranger, Blake Stanley, Adella’s need for adventure is fueled by his mysterious existence. Even when his past criminal record is revealed, she longs for the safety she feels when he is near. Discovering that he was accused of killing her brother, her faith in his innocence wavers. Still, her heart speaks to her of a love that can only be born in the heavens and she decides that she will always love him, regardless of his past. To save her love, Adella must prove Blake’s innocence before the real criminal discovers the truth about Blake and kills them both.

Intriguing, right? Something about this book just makes me want to curl up in front of the fire and loose myself in this world!

JDP: Intriguing, indeed! It sounds like a story full of wonderful conflict and tension! What's your next writing project?

Rachel: ~ I am currently working on a story and the title has yet to be determined but right now my husband calls it A Dress to the Heart. Yes, there’s a play on words and I kind of like it. But this book has been renamed so many times I can’t decide what I like best or at all.

Summary of A Dress to the Heart: Ivy Lewis is both provider and nurturer for her seven younger siblings. Plain and poor, she works as an apprentice to a seamstress, yearning for scholastic knowledge and finding her true love. Her social standing places her as an outcast among many, namely the arrogant Eleanora Key, who can’t seem to torture Ivy enough. And like Miss Key, Ivy has her eye set on Lord Sterling Bennett; the contrast lying in that Ivy can never hope to capture his attention, let alone aspire to gain his admiration.

When she meets a mysterious man on the road, Mr. Alan, her entire world shifts. She is no longer invisible to the world. Amid trying to care for her ill mother and her siblings, she finds herself kidnapped, courted by two wealthy men, and demoralized by Eleanora Key. Through it all, she learns her worth as a woman and the importance of maintaining the values she’s always believed in. But she must discover the secrets of Mr. Alan before it is too late.

JDP: Oooo, I love the mystery angle! Can't wait to read this one, Rachel. Thank you so much for taking time to chat with us today.

Rachel: ~ Thanks for having me, Joyce. This was fun!

You can read more about Rachel Rager on her website and blog. Copies of By Love or By Sea can be purchased on and

For a chance to win a copy of By Love or By Sea, become of follower of Rachel's blog or leave a comment on any or all of the reviews on her blog tour listed below. Each comment will be counted as an entry in her drawing, so the more reviews you comment on, the more chances you have to win!

September 28 - Jaimey Grant
September 29 - Kaylee Baldwin
September 30 - Cindy Beck
October 1 - Kim Thompson
October 2 - Alison Palmer
October 3 - JoAnn Arnolds
October 5 - Rebecca Talley
October 6 - Anna Arnett
October 7 - Heather Justensen
October 8 - Rachelle Christensen