Spotlight Thursday: Sheri Humphreys

I’ve known Sheri for several years. We’ve been in critique groups together and it was at Sheri’s urging that I finally joined Romance Writers of America® in 2013. I’m thrilled to be a fellow Golden Heart ® finalist this year with her!

Sheri Humphreys

 

Please welcome Sheri Humphreys to Live Vi-Carrie-ous!

 
Tell me about your GH Finalist manuscript, Sheri. Is this your first time entering/finaling?

Another historical, A Hero to Hold, finaled in 2012. I had previously entered different versions of The Unseducible Earl, but I’d revised it and written a new synopsis. Here’s a brief description of the story:

The end of the Crimean War brings Victoria Thorne home to face a society that isn’t ready for a lady with the education and experience of a physician. While nursing a Crimean veteran she proves herself able to deal with medical challenges and discrimination, but she’s dismayed when she develops an attraction to her patient’s betrothed brother, the Earl of Cheriton.

Robb Merrick, Earl of Cheriton, is engaged to a darling of society, yet finds himself drawn to his brother’s nurse. She makes him feel connected with the world instead of cocooned by his title and position. He craves the freedom to pledge his love and loyalty, but ending his betrothal means entangling them all in scandal. How can an honorable gentleman be expected to keep his vow when doing so means destroying all hope of happiness?

Of course, I have to ask: Chocolate or peanut butter?

If we’re talking ice cream or a treat, I’ll take chocolate. If we’re talking food for sustaining life, I’ll go with the pb.

What’s your day job?

I’m a retired ER nurse. And retirement is fabulous!

Tell me a bit about yourself. Family, hobbies, etc. Where you live, in particular.

Last year I moved to Cambria on the Central California coast. It’s a unique village-type atmosphere and retail chain businesses are not allowed, Every business is independently owned. I love the ocean, the weather and the wildlife. It’s a great spot to live.

Who’re your favorite authors? Your go-tos for fiction?

I read a lot of romance. Contemporary, historical, inspirational, romantic suspense, even some erotica. I read books from well established, best-selling authors to debut authors. The only thing I don’t read is paranormal, and the fantasies are few and far between. Right now I’m reading a marvelous book–A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. I’ll be following it with the other two books in the series. It is gifting me with a magnificent reading experience.

Oh, I loved A Voice in the Wind! I agree, it’s magnificent.

 

This one is a toughie, considering you live in a vacation destination, but what’s your favorite or best vacation spot?

Rather than returning to the same spot over and over, I like to go to different places. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, and I want to get there fairly soon.

Are you coming to San Antonio this summer and what are you looking forward to most? What are you wearing to the awards banquet?

Yes, I’ll be there! My Golden Heart experience in 2012 was indescribable. Just fantastic. I’ll be enjoying 2014 just as much. I don’t have a dress yet, but I’ve done a bit of looking.

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

There is a magnificent, live coastal oak in my backyard. It must be over 100 years old. That tree is downright spiritual.

What did you do/think when you got “the call” on March 26th?

The Unseducible Earl is the book of my heart. It’s about a nurse. I’m so happy I didn’t give up on it, and it finaled.

Congratulations, Sheri! Thanks for stopping by today. I’ll see you in San Antonio, if not before!

Book Talk Tuesday: Through the Evil Days

Julia Spencer-Fleming’s tag line says it all: Novels of faith and murder for readers of literary suspense. 

evil-days-new-lg

Through the Evil Days lives up to that description.

It may seem odd to build a murder mystery series around a female Episcopal priest, but Spencer-Fleming is a gifted storyteller whose characters are fully realized and could be real people.

When we left newlyweds Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne at the end of One Was a Soldier, they had just discovered Clare was pregnant. After they’d agreed to no kids.

Through the Evil Days picks up a few months later. Clare is now five and a half months along. She’s clean and sober. Russ is also clean and sober but he’s not nearly as accepting of the idea of a child interrupting his planned life as Clare is.

Russ and Clare are finally heading to their delayed honeymoon. Both struggle to get out of town and find out at the last minute, their jobs could be in jeopardy. Clare because conception occurred before the wedding, Russ because the town council is considering dissolving the police department and outsourcing law enforcement to the state troopers.

The whole state of New York is gripped by an ice storm for the record books. With Russ and Clare out of town trying to figure out their marriage, the rest of Millers Kill is fighting the weather and the PD is searching for a young kidnap victim who needs anti-rejection medications or she’ll die.

Since this is a Clare and Russ mystery series, they aren’t able to escape either the weather or the kidnappers.

Back in town, Hadley Knox and Kevin Flynn are also dealing with relationship issues. Hadley’s ex-husband is back in town and causing trouble. Just when Hadley and Kevin seem to have sorted out their relationship, life throws them another curve ball.

The ice storm in this book is a character all its own. It bucks and calms, drives the action, and generally makes a bad situation even worse.

I love all these books. The only thing I don’t like is that the last few books have ended with cliffhangers and Spencer-Fleming doesn’t write fast enough for me. I want to know what happened next and I want to know it now.

Media Monday: I’m a Lowbrow

Last week I reviewed the Veronica Mars movie. What I didn’t say was that we started the evening watching The Master with Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I had DVR’d it and knew it had been critically acclaimed and received some Oscar nods.

The Master
The Master

We lasted about 45 minutes. Stud Muffin was done after 7 minutes, but I refused to quit. Finally even I had to admit defeat. Depressing. Slow pace. Nothing redeeming. Ugh.

If I could say this was the first time Hollywood and reviewers has done me wrong, I could forgive and forget. But their reputation has preceded itself. JFK, the Oliver Stone movie. Black Swan.

I do like some critically acclaimed films too though, so maybe there’s hope for me yet.

Spotlight Thursday: It’s All About ME!

I’ve been shining the spotlight on my fellow Inspirational Golden Heart® finalists and today is the fourth and last Inspirational finalist: ME! (Starting next week, we’ll be meeting finalists in the other categories.)

I knew finaling in the Golden Heart® was a big deal, but I have to admit, I was caught off guard by how busy it is, being a finalist.

I’ve been popping up all over the internet lately.

Here, on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog.

And here, on fellow Golden Heart® finalist Jillian Lark’s blog.

Then there’s the USA Today romance blog, Happy Ever After which you can see here.

The USA Today blog generated a tweet from Riverhead Books quoting me! And I got my first Google alert for the USA Today HEA article. I’ve gotten a few other Google alerts on my name but they came from my own blog or comments posts. This was my first bona fide Google alert from an outside source.

And finally, I have a short story up in a contest here. If you have just a couple of minutes, would you mind clicking through, giving it a read and clicking Like? If you do like it, that is!

Anyway, between writing blog posts, reading and responding to blog posts, and all the email generated, I’m busier than a cow dog at a roundup. And I’m loving it! So far this spring, I’m a finalist or semi-finalist in three different contests with two different stories. Plus the short story link above. Open-mouthed smile 

Thanks for stopping by today. Come back next week for a look at another Golden Heart® finalist.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: The Best Laid Plans

There’s a verse in Proverbs that says:

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

pathI’ve been reminded of this verse several times in recent weeks.

A member of our local church collapsed while playing volleyball and died. He was in his early-fifties and athletic and fit.

My mom stumbled and fell recently. She’s okay, but she took a good blow to the head. It could have been much worse. Instead of rearranging my plans for a day, it could have been a week or even a different kind of plan I’d be on.

There’s a saying evangelical circles: God is good.

The listener responds: All the time. And all the time …

And the original speaker finishes with: God is good.

He is good. He is just. He is.

May we all rest in that knowledge.

Book Talk Tuesday: Dangerous to Love

I don’t often read books that can be labeled “Hot,” or “Steamy,” but Elsa is a friend so I dove right in.

dtl

From the Amazon description:

Emma Spencer had anything but a normal childhood. It encompassed foster parents, biological parents and several years at a convent boarding school. Now her foster parents have been murdered and she may be next. When she falls in love, searching for answers becomes more devastating than she ever imagined.
Buck Hill had a crush on Emma at seven years old and when they are reunited he realizes she is the one he has been waiting for. As the two lovers search for the reason Emma is in danger, Buck finds he is a piece of the puzzle.

***

I enjoyed the chemistry between Emma and Buck and the mystery/suspense is good. At first, I had a bit of a problem sorting out how Emma fit into the story and with the foster parents, but Elsa did a good job bringing it all together.

Media Monday: Veronica Mars, the movie

Hmmm … I just realized I don’t even know if this has a name other than the Veronica Mars movie …

marsOkay, I paused to check and nope, it’s just Veronica Mars. Whew. I watched the television series fairly recently and enjoyed it a lot.

Veronica is a Nancy Drew for the new millennium. Each of three seasons of the show focused on one over-arching mystery that Veronica was working on. The individual episodes often had a smaller case that she took on to help out a friend or a friend of a friend, or an occasional client of her dad’s PI firm.

It’s hard to talk about a mystery show or series without giving spoilers and I couldn’t bear to ruin Veronica for anyone, so I’ll just say the movie is every bit as good as the series and I recommend them for anyone who loves a good mystery combined with snappy dialogue and real characters.

Even Stud Muffin liked the movie and he never watched any of the shows. Oh, and the extra feature, “The Making of Veronica Mars,” is well worth the viewing.

I would totally support and see another Veronica Mars movie.

Spotlight Thursday: Sara Tompkins

It’s Thursday, so there must be another Golden Heart® finalist to meet!

Sara Tompkins Author PhotoI caught Sara Tompkins in the midst of a ballet recital rehearsal and packing up her household. More on that in just a sec.

Welcome, Sara!

Please tell us a bit about your Golden Heart® Inspirational finalist manuscript. Is this your first time entering?

Better Than a Movie features a young legal assistant who aspires to become a litigator. She’s obsessed with movies and has carefully scripted her life to ensure a happy Hollywood ending. Things go off script, though, when her irrepressible teenage niece comes to live with her and she falls for her niece’s shy school counselor. The manuscript is about learning to let God write the script of our lives. This is my first time entering the Golden Heart® contest and the second writing contest I’ve ever entered. I submitted the manuscript on a last minute whim, with no expectation of winning!

Sounds like a fun premise. Now, on to the important question: chocolate or peanut butter?

My friends tell me I am the only woman in America who doesn’t love chocolate. My ten-old-daughter doesn’t either, so maybe it’s a genetic aversion! Peanut butter and apples, though? Yum.

You know, I’ve heard of people who don’t like chocolate but I thought it was an urban myth. What’s your day job?

I’m an attorney and have spent most of my career working with refugees. I’ve done stints at various refugee resettlement organizations and spent a few years at the State Department. I’m really passionate about helping persecuted people, particularly those resettling in the United States. I’m also passionate about my two school-aged kiddos, though, and recently left my busy career to focus on them. It’s hard for a mommy who is scooting off to the Middle East to drive the soccer carpool!

I’ve always loved great escapist fiction, especially after the grim stories of war and displacement I’d face at work. There’s nothing like some yummy chick lit to redeem a hard day. In a flash of insanity, I decided to write my own novel. It turned into a little adventure story I used to affectionately call, Sara Attempts to Write a Book and Wonders Most Days What She Was Thinking. Critiquing a novel is so much easier than actually writing one, isn’t it? Man, has the process been humbling! But I love it.

Wow, your passion comes through! I agree, nothing works like a little chick lit to escape the heaviness of life. Although of course, for most of us, it’s chick lit and chocolate. Winking smile  Tell us a bit about yourself. Family, hobbies, etc.

Right now my life is in transition. My husband just accepted a job at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, and we are moving our two kids and two naughty dachshunds from Washington D.C. to California. Goodbye Capitol Hill, hello Hollywood!

I spent a few days in the D.C. area in September 2011 and wondered how I would have survived an August there with the humidity. I’m betting LA weather will be a lovely revelation for you. Who are your favorite authors? Your go-tos for fiction?

I love a lot of authors and genres, but some books I’ve enjoyed recently are Me Before You, The Husband’s Secret, My Name is Russell Fink, and The Rosie Project.

Oh, I loved The Husband’s Secret, too! Are you coming to San Antonio this summer and what are you looking forward to most? What are you wearing to the awards banquet?

I am coming to San Antonio! I’ve never been to a writing conference in my life, large or small, so it should be an adventure the size of Texas. Just thinking about a dress stresses me out! Did you have to ask about that? Seriously, Carrie, I’m sending you my therapy bill. This conference is in Texas. Aren’t blue jeans permissible? I mentioned to two of my girlfriends who happen to have a style blog — thestylelobby.com — that I think this is a dress-up affair, and they quickly jumped into gear advising me to “rent the runway” or something of that sort. I’ll let them pick out a dress because goodness knows I have no clue what to choose.

I clicked through and looked at the blog. I think you’re in good hands! What did you do/think when you got “the call” on March 26th?

When I got the call about the Golden Heart® contest I almost hung up on the caller. I thought she was trying to sell me a time share when she said I’d won something. Not kidding. I forgot I even entered. That’s how little I thought of my chances!

Sheesh, the rest of us were sitting by phone like Kim McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie. What are you currently working on?

My husband and I stayed with our two girls and two doggies at a dog-friendly hotel in the Midwest last winter. I thought the location would make a great setting for a novel. I love the idea of a bunch of very different dogs with very different owners all trapped in an Illinois hotel during a snow storm. It’s still in the development stage, but think uptight D.C. girl who dislikes dogs and warm-hearted hotel employee who rescues dogs in his spare time.

Oh, I would totally read that!

Thanks for stopping by, Sara. I look forward to meeting you for real in San Antonio and best of luck to you!

Thanks Carrie!

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Pig-Headed or Persistent?

I’ve always been stubborn. To a fault.

pigIt’s served me well in some instances. In others, in retrospect it became clear that I should have cut my losses and walked away. From the situation. From the relationship. From the issue.

There’s an old saying: Never wrestle with a pig. You both get muddy and the pig likes it.

There are some situations it’s better to walk around from, not start to wrestle, and stay out of the mud.

I’m still working on finding the right balance of not giving up but also knowing when to admit defeat and in the immortal words of Princess Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, to “Let It Go.”

I understand some parents have justifiable concerns about the song lyrics and its philosophy of ‘stop obeying your parents and do what you want.’ I totally see that as problematic for a young girl.

On the other hand, as a grown woman who spends far too much time trying to figure out what to do when in order to please everyone, it’s very liberating to realize I only have to please three people: God, me, and my husband. In that order.

So much easier said than done.

Book Talk Tuesday: Smell of Death

Smell of Death is a good old-fashioned police procedural from Marilyn Meredith, writing as F.M. Meredith.

Marilyn is a lovely person and popular mystery writer. She writes two series, the Rocky Bluffs series and the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. I’ve read some of both, though certainly not all as Marilyn is a prolific writer.

Smell_of_death

Smell of Death opens with Officer Stacy Wilbur arriving at a crime scene and finding a murder victim.

Rocky Bluffs is a California coastal town with a dark side. Two murders occur in the same town, seemingly unconnected except for the fact that the victims are related. The killing methods are different. They both seem random and without a motive.

Officer Wilbur is a beat cop, but the detective working the cases keeps her in the loop, partly as a professional courtesy, partly to see if she has the chops to promote to detective and partly to spend more time with the pretty young widow.

Smell of Death moves quickly, just like police work. There are several story threads woven through the book, both procedural and personal for the officers of Rocky Bluff P.D.

If you want a good old-fashioned police procedural, Smell of Death is worth a look!

Enjoy!