Archive for March, 2009



Shadow Lake

By M. Jean Pike

Black Lyon, April 1, 2009

Contemporary Romance

ISBN: 978-1-934912-14-0

Author website: http://mjeanpike.freewebs.com



Finding time to read is a priority for me—after the hubby, the kids, the house, errands, work…ect. I’m sure every woman out there is in the same fix. Finding time to do anything just for us is nearly impossible and for all us avid readers with a huge TBR (to be read) pile, it can be a little frustrating. Once I start a really great book, it’s hard for me to put it down and then come back to it later. I want to read it straight through, but that’s not always possible, especially with the longer stories. That’s why finding those shorter, little gems is always a thrill. M.Jean Pike’s Shadow Lake is a true gem. It’s the perfect length for unwinding with at the end of a long day or relaxing with on the weekend. Best of all, although a stand-alone story, it’s the first in a series.


In the year since her husband’s death, Emma Beckman has tried hard to regain some control over her life. After paying the hospital bills and other debts, she’s broke and living in a horrible apartment in an even worse neighborhood. Several failed job attempts have only added to her frustration and feeling of insecurity. Determined to give it one more try before being forced to seek help from her controlling mother, Emma drives out to Shadow Lake to apply for a position in the camp store.


A disastrous interview with the owner, sexy Shane Lucy, sends an angry Emma scurrying. Although hesitant when Shane offers a second chance and a new beginning, Emma knows she has little choice. Settling into her new job and making friends with Shane’s teenaged son, Mick, Emma is filled with hope that she can finally put her painful past behind her and move on.


When his ex-wife walked out on him and Mick years before, Shane built a protective wall around his heart and he intends to keep it intact. But then he hadn’t counted on meeting someone like Emma. He tries to fight his desire for her beauty, but her vulnerability and caring personality cracks his protective shell as nothing else could. Unfortunately Emma’s heart is still bruised and although terribly attracted to Shane, she isn’t ready for another relationship.


Romance lovers of all genres will adore Shadow Lake. It’s a true romance, but delves into the deeper issues of family, divorce, betrayal, loss, and suicide. M. Jean Pike’s writing has a magical way of drawing the reader in and holding them there until the final page is turned. The skillful plotting, lush descriptions, and charming cast of characters are enchanting. When turning that last page, readers will be left with a wonderful sense of satisfaction and will eagerly look forward to the next in the series.







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jean_pike_208_thumbThe girls at WGR are thrilled to welcome multi-published author M. Jean Pike! Jean, thanks so much for agreeing to chat with us today.


1.) I noticed on your Authors Den website that you grew up in a big family in a very small town. Has your upbringing impacted your writing, and if so, how?


I think everyone’s upbringing impacts their adult life to some degree. Growing up in a family of six, you learn a lot of important life lessons very early on, like how to share, how to be a good sport, how to stand up for yourself, and mostly that it’s not always about you. Growing up in a small town, I learned to use my imagination to keep myself entertained. We had our church, our school, and a two-block business district that pretty much rolled up the sidewalks at five o’clock. Books were my favorite source of entertainment and I developed a love of reading and writing at a very young age.


2.) Who is your favorite author of all time, and who has influenced your writing the most?


John Steinbeck and John Steinbeck. No one has ever described their characters more aptly, or turned a phrase more beautifully.


3.) How did you get started as a writer?


I started writing poetry and short stories in high school just for fun. Somewhere around age thirty I realized I wanted more out of my writing than just personal entertainment. I spun my wheels for awhile in a vicious cycle of writing, submitting, and rejection letters. After a couple of years of that, I decided it was “now or never” and took a writing course through Long Ridge Writer’s Group. It was the best investment I ever made in my writing. My instructor showed me how to improve upon my strengths and overcome my weaknesses and my writing finally started to sell. With more than two hundred short stories and inspirational essays in print I decided it was time to move on to novel writing.


4.) What is the best part of the novel writing process?


I’ll be struggling along, inch by inch, page by page, and then suddenly, usually out of the blue, the story turns a corner and my characters start talking to me. I love that! After that point the story usually takes on a life of its own and often takes unexpected twists that surprise even me!


5.) What’s the worst part of the writing process?


That hazy, scary in-between place that begins around Chapter Five. That place where I go from, “I have the greatest idea…” to “Oh, God. I have absolutely no idea!”  


6.) Tell us a little bit about your newest novel, Shadow Lake.


I’ve been criticized because some of my books, though love stories, did not contain traditional “happily-ever-after” endings.  I tried really hard to do that in Shadow Lake. That’s not to say that the characters don’t have their moments J A contemporary romance, Shadow Lake takes on some very contemporary themes; depression, suicide, divorce. My characters are flawed people facing some very tough struggles, and I think that gives Shadow Lake the quality of realness that I strive for in all my stories.


7.) Say Shadow Lake was going to be made into a major motion picture and you got to choose the actors! Who would play Shane Lucy?


Oh dear! I don’t think anyone watches less movies than me. I’m pretty far out of the loop when it comes to who’s hot and who’s not these days, but the first person that comes to mind is a young Richard Geere (Think An Officer and a Gentleman!) 


Who would play Emma?


For Emma I would choose someone whose beauty is the natural, down-to-earth kind. I’m picturing a redheaded Gwyneth Paltro!


8.) What’s next in the Love on the Lake Series?


The second book, Strange Magic, will be a paranormal romance of the ghost variety. I’ve strayed from the paranormal genre in my last two books and I’m so enjoying getting back into all things spooky!


9.) Where can readers go to find out all the latest MJP news?


Readers can visit my website at www.freewebs.com/mjeanpike or my blog at http://mjeanpike.wordpress.com. I also keep a site at Authors Den featuring news, reviews, and a number of my short stories, poems and inspirational essays. http://www.authorsden.com/jeanpike


Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Jean, and best of luck with the Love on the Lake series!



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lizanew_smallWGR is thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know award-winning poet and author E. G. Parsons. Elizabeth, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today.


1.) I noticed on your website that you have quite a diverse collection of published books on the market: historical, paranormal, suspense, poetry, even a young adult title. What do you most enjoy writing, and why?


If I had to choose one, I’d have to say suspense. My first book was a suspense thriller and then I switched to romance. My romance novels always have an element of suspense because I’ve never been able to get away from that angle in a story. I can’t explain why it’s my favorite. It just seems to come more naturally for me when writing.


2.) Our reviewer was very impressed with your knowledge of the 1800s in your novel, Black Rock. How did you go about researching that time period, and did you enjoy the research?


I think all writers as well as readers have their favorite time periods and for me it’s the 1800’s. I’m not sure I’d want to give up all my modern conveniences and travel back to live in that era, but it would certainly be tempting. My love for that time in history has resulted in my having a good knowledge of that way of life, but I did have to research some things for Black Rock: A Time For Love. I made use of my local library and the Internet for researching things like famous outlaws and transportation. Train travel was very popular back then. You could travel all the way from the east coast to the west coast by train, but I needed to find out if it was available for the area in which my novel takes place. It was a hard find. Took me a couple of weeks just to find that one thing, but I loved it and found myself getting sidetracked by all the other interesting things I found.


3.) Your bio says that you come from a large family. Has your upbringing impacted your writing? If so, how?


I do come from a fairly large family and now have an enormous extended family. Knowing intimately such a large and diverse group of people has definitely had an impact on my writing, especially when it comes to characterizations. My family moved around quite a bit when I was growing up and I think all the different locations and cultures was great fodder for the imagination. 


4.) What is your favorite way to spend an afternoon?


If the weather is nice, I love taking long, leisurely strolls along the creek bank with my husband. If it’s a little too cold for that, I love curling up under my favorite throw in front of a roaring fire with a great book or with my hubby. J


5.) Say Black Rock; A Time For Love is going to be made into a major motion picture and you, as the author, get to select the actors! Who would play the part of Roxanne? Collin? The dastardly Brad Wellman?


Kate Beckinsale for Roxanne. Most people probably associate her more with movies like Underworld, but I saw her in a Jane Austin movie with very little makeup and she was fantastic. For Brad, Maybe Matthew Davis or Mark Wahlburg with lightened hair. I’m not sure about Collin. Most of the male actors I love are a little too old to play a thirty year old or they’re British. Maybe Orlando Bloom or Josh Jackson.


6.) Who, in your opinion, is the greatest romance hero of all time?


Hum… I don’t think I could pick just one. Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind or Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice or Darby in Waiting For The Rain or my own Ambrose in Captive Fear or…well you get the picture. I’m a push over for a great hero. J


7.) On your website it says that you live with your husband, sons, and a boxer named Charlie. Do you ever feel outnumbered by the male presence in your home?


Oh, yeah. J There are days when just the sound of another female voice on the phone is reason for celebration. It’s hard to let my very romantic, female side have free reign when I’m always being out voted by the males. But they’re all generous about letting me have my way, so it’s okay.


8.) You spent your childhood living in both Florida and Michigan. What’s your best memory of each state?


Playing on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan and stuffing my face with big, purple, frost plums. In Florida, the Atlantic Ocean and having the everglades as my back yard. Both wild and wonderful places to grow up.    


9.) In Black Rock, Roxanne and Colin were brought together by supernatural circumstances. How did you meet your own real life hero?


Nothing as dramatic as that. LOL. We met online in a yahoo chat room. He lived a thousand miles away and I say it was fate, he calls it fortunate circumstance. Whatever it was, I’m grateful.


10.) Are there any new E. G. Parsons books in the works?


Winter of the Heart came out in January and like Black Rock, it’s a paranormal historical. At present I’m working on a contemporary women’s fiction titled Then Comes Spring.


11.) Where can readers go to find out all the latest EGP news?


You can visit my site at http://egparsons.com or my blog at http://elizabethmeltonparsons.wordpress.com


Anything else you’d like to share?


I’d like to thank WGR for the fabulous review of Black Rock: A Time For Love and for the great interview.

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simplewishesSimple Wishes

By Lisa Dale

Hachette Book Group

January, 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Wishes-Lisa-Dale/dp/0446406899 



This lovely story is a story of relationships: relationships between mothers and daughters, between lovers, and between friends.


When she leaves her lonely childhood in rural Pennsylvania at age seventeen for the big-city lights of New York, Adele Matin swears it is never to return. But when a foolish mistake causes her life to come crashing down around her at age thirty, Adele finds herself with no option except the little cottage on Notch Lane that was left to her in her mother’s will. Broken in spirit, she sees the cottage as a temporary prison, a place to hide out and lick her wounds until she can regroup and resume her life in the city. What Adele isn’t counting on is the depth of feelings the cottage evokes in her, her instant attraction to her reclusive neighbor, Jay, or the bond of friendship she quickly forms with Beatrice, the older and wiser Korean woman who spends her weekends at the Lucky Moon, the cottage just down the lane.


Lisa Dale has done a phenomenal job of developing the characters within this story. Entering their worlds, I quickly got the sense of real people with real problems and very real personalities. I was immediately drawn to Notch Lane, a charming community snuggled against the breathtaking beauty of the Pennsylvania mountains. The story is definitely character-driven. The external plot moves at a deceptively leisurely pace, while at the same time, what is happening inside Adele is so gripping I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could to see how things would turn out for her as she struggled to resolve the hurts of her childhood and move on to discover the true meaning of friendship and love.


Simple Wishes is an emotional and romantic read that I recommend to anyone who likes a good, relationship story.



— Honeybee     

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Reviews coming next:

Simple Wishes by Lisa Dale

Sarah’s Journey by Ginger Simpson

Shadow Lake by M. Jean Pike

And our next author interviews will be with E. G. Parsons and M. Jean Pike.

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even-nowEven Now                   

By: Karen Kingsbury

Zondervan, 2005

 Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Even-Now-Lost-Love-1/dp/0310247535

Even Now by Karen Kingsbury tackles some tough issues in modern society.  It is well written with gripping characters. It is Christian fiction that doesn’t come across as old fashioned or outdated. The characters don’t live in a perfect world. They aren’t saints and they don’t always do the right thing. In fact, bad choices are what lead to the original problem and a lack of faith perpetuates the tragedy.

Lauren Anderson and Shane Galanter grew up together. They were the children of best friends Angela and Sheila. The families were close for many years. The husbands shared a business, the wives shared friendship and secrets and they all shared dinners, vacations and a church home. Lauren and Shane were friends as they went off to elementary school.  They later shared their first kiss and eventually became high school sweethearts. They had their whole future planned out. It was almost time for their senior year and then it would be high school graduation. This would be followed by summer jobs before heading off to college. After college they would have their wedding, settle into careers and then start a family.  That was exactly what they wanted and what everyone who knew them expected. When Lauren turned up pregnant at the age of 17 their plans went askew. They shared the news with their horrified parents who worried a bit too much about appearances and their own standing in the community. The teens vowed to get married and raise the baby but it seemed both families were against that. Both sets of parents intervened and worked to separate the two. Where lies and trickery begin heartache and loss are sure to follow. This is a story of lost love, lost family and lost faith. It is also a story of true love, finding family and rekindling faith.

Shane gave Lauren an engagement ring and they vowed to love each other forever no matter what.  Lauren toyed with the idea of adoption but as the new life grew within her she decided to keep the baby. Shane chose the name Emily for their baby girl. When Lauren was eight months into the pregnancy Shane’s parents forced him to move with them across the country. In the age before cell phones or my space the teens lost track of each other because both families moved at the same time. As agreed ahead of time neither set of parents registered a listed phone number.  Lauren and Shane spent countless hours trying to reconnect. Once baby Emily was born Lauren took off on a cross country trip to locate Shane. When the baby got sick Lauren reluctantly turned around and went home. She sat by the hospital bed and prayed for a miracle. After an exhausting night she was given incorrect information and believed that Emily’s tiny body was not able to fight off the illness and that she did not survive. Lauren felt like a failure as a mother yet at the same time she was furious with her own parents. Rather than turn to them for comfort and what would have been the truth about her baby she bolts. She felt she could never forgive their deceptions and lies, which led to the loss of Shane.  Now she also blamed them in part for the loss of Emily. She also blamed God for not answering her desperate bedside prayer. The second time she left town she never looked back. She headed off to find Shane but along the way she changed her name, graduated from college and became a journalist. She made her own way in the world for the next twenty years.  It is grown up Emily raised by her grandparents who works to find her parents and reunite them with her grandparents and with each other.

The reconciliation with her parents is bittersweet due to a serious illness of one family member.  Lauren’s reunion with Shane was anticipated and hoped for but not without its problems. As a journalist Lauren spoke out against the war while Shane trained fighter pilots for the war. In their time apart Shane found a deep faith while Lauren turned her back on God. Their love remained but they had changed. Could that young love possibly sustain them now that they were on different sides in a war?

The story has some twists and turns that will keep the readers guessing. There are some tender moments that endear the characters. The author interjects scripture, which I found comforting.  The story introduces opposing views on War but not all readers will agree with the political viewpoint expressed in the book.  In addition there were a few scenarios that seemed to be a bit of a stretch. Lauren’s parents had searched for her for 20 years and had even hired private detectives all to no avail. Then suddenly Emily finds her mother almost effortlessly with the use of an old journal and the internet.  Skeptics might wonder how Shane, a top fighter pilot and Lauren, a journalist for Time magazine never stumbled upon any information about each that would have lead them back together.  Although I kind of wondered about this after the fact, it didn’t strike me as a problem while reading because the author did a nice job of detailing why they didn’t reconnect. Miscommunication, lack of information and multiple moves helped the story unfolded in a believable way. I guess you could chalk it up to destiny. We aren’t the master’s of our own fate. We can work and scheme and try but often things don’t fall into place until it is the right time. I find this to be true in my life and it was true for Shane and Lauren.

Even Now is a story of forgiveness and the power of love. As the book ends the story continues. The characters are on the road to relationship renewal but lingering issues remain even into the last chapter. Story events do not reach a conclusion, which leaves readers eager to read the sequel Ever After. 



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cunningham_57printThe girls at WGR are excited to have the opportunity to get to know Lily in Bloom author, Margaret P. Cunningham.


Margaret, thank you for agreeing to chat with us today.


1.)    I noticed on your website that you started out your writing career with short stories. Tell us a little bit about your first published work.

            My first published work was a short story titled “The Best of Fredville”.  Its first person narrator was a little girl visiting her imperious aunt in the tiny southern town of Fredville.  The aunt was in charge of the town’s down-and-dirty gardening competition to win the title of Best of Fredville.  It won a contest and then was published in an anthology called Gardening at a Deeper Level.


2.) You offer new writers the advice “Write what you know. Write what you love.” I’m guessing you took that advice to heart while writing Lily in Bloom. You grew up on a plant nursery. What was that like?

            Playing hide-and-seek among acres of azaleas and camellias and a big, old greenhouse was great fun.  Although my thumbs aren’t as green as my daddy’s were, I did inherit a love of gardening.

 I also loved/love the total escape of those old romantic comedy/mystery movies we used to watch on our black and white TV.  I decided that if I was going to spend a year or so writing a novel, I was going to indulge myself, fill it with characters that I would like to know and of course, it would be set in a southern garden.


3.) In your story, Lily fell in love with a much younger man who shared her passion for gardening. How did you meet your own real-life hero, and does he share your interest in gardening?

            I met my husband, Tom, on a blind date.  Unfortunately, his is pretty much a “slash-and-burn” style of gardening.  For example, I love vines.  He hates them, and “trims” them every chance he gets.  Once I put buttermilk on everything to get that great, green algae growing on it.  And it worked – until the day I came home to the smell of bleach and my husband proudly informed me that he had cleaned every bit of it off!


4.) When you’re putting a novel together, do you start with the setting, the plot line, the characters, or something else?

            An idea first – usually some human interaction I’ve witnessed that I can’t get out of my head.  Then the characters, especially the protagonist.  What is her problem (based on that first spark of an idea)?  Setting is very important to me – almost like a character itself.  Plot is the hardest, but I’ve read lots of beautiful writing that seems to go nowhere.  I think the first order of writing is to tell a story!


5.) What is your favorite part of the novel writing process? 

            Believe it or not, revision.  I love to have a finished chapter or entire piece – all those dreaded/loved plot lines tied into place, then go back and play with the words.  I also enjoy researching things – thank you, Google!


6.) What is your least favorite part of the novel writing process?

            Self-doubt.  I always wonder, Am I wasting my time on this?  Will anyone ever even see it?  Shouldn’t I be doing something more useful, like cleaning out a closet or making lasagna?  Unlike a painter who can hang an unwanted piece in her bathroom if all else fails, the manuscript goes in the drawer.  I’ve learned to remind myself that every time I write, I learn.  Other than that and probably more to the point of your question, as I stated above, plotting is difficult for me.


7.) Who are some of your favorite authors, and what writers have influenced your writing?

            F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christi,  John Grisham, Rosamunde Pilcher, Robert Olen Butler, Khaled Hosseini, Flannery O’Connor, Michael Knight, Jhumpa Lahiri – and Carolyn Keene. 

I think all writing begins with reading and Carolyn Keene and her wonderful protagonist, Nancy Drew turned me on to reading, fired my imagination and put the idea in my head that a brave girl can do whatever she sets her mind to.  I’d like to think that I’ve gleaned a bit here and there from those other, loftier favorites of mine, too. 


8.) What is your favorite book of all time? 

            To Kill a Mockingbird, whose author I didn’t name above because I’m having a senior moment and can’t think of it.


9.) What do you like to do in your spare time when not writing?

            We are blessed with fabulous beaches here on the gulf coast, so my family does a lot of boating, etc.  I enjoy gardening, of course (though you’d never know it if you could see my yard right now).


10.) Are there any more great Margaret Cunningham novels in the works?

            Thank you for the adjective “great”.  I am working on a novel in the same vein as Lily in Bloom.  It’s the story of a middle-aged woman who goes in search of her past – in the ante-bellum era raised cottage where she was born.  As usual, I’m at that stage where all of my plot lines look like a bowl of spaghetti.


11.) It looks like you have a busy schedule lined up for the spring. Where can readers go to find out all the latest MPC news?

            My web site is www.margaretpcunningham.com.  Also, my wonderful publisher’s web site, www.blacklyonpublishing.com .


12.) Say that Lily in Bloom was going to be made into a major motion picture and you got to decide what actors would play the parts. Who would play the part of Lily? Will? Crazy Maisy?

            Someone actually was looking at Lily in Bloom in hopes of it becoming a TV movie, so I’ve given it some thought.  There are so many talented actors – but I have a hard time imagining most of them with an authentic southern accent even though I know they are up to the job!  Maisy…?  Olympia Dukakis, since she was so great in Steel Magnolias.  Will…?  Clint Eastwood in his thirties?  But any number of tall, handsome, thirty-five year old actors would do.  And Lily…?  Why not go for broke?  Julia Roberts, though she’s only 44.     


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

            Yes.  Thank you for the great review of Lily in Bloom on Working Girl Reviews and for having me as guest interviewee.  It was lots of fun. 

Margaret P. Cunningham


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