S&S: Desert Breeze author Regina Andrews turned right on I-95 and landed in our neck of the woods. Today we’re talking books and baseball. Welcome, Regina. What prompted you to write Sterling Lakes Book #3, Praise of the Heart?
What a wonderful question. This book has to do with dealing with the truth in life, whether it is by looking in the mirror, listening to the doctor’s report or finally allowing the love of God to shine in your heart. I wrote this book as part of the Sterling Lakes series. This one takes the series from the levels of the previous two books and turns it completely personal with the themes the characters have to address.
S&S: The hero, Cliff “Clean-up” Markham, plays for the Tampa Bay Stingrays. Do you have a favorite team?
Oh yes. Baltimore Orioles! Long story: RI girl, Red Sox fan forever. Remember going over the AL Standings with my father every night before it was AL East and West: Baltimore, Boston, Detroit…Baltimore, Detroit, Boston…Well, flash-forward to a broken-hearted world of Sox fans in’86 who never recovered (if you don’t know, just trust me!). Always loved the Orioles for their spirit and visited Baltimore lots as I grew up. Well, seems to me they always held pure and true! I love their spirit.
S&S: Favorite line from the book? ”Take a stand, find the truth and expose it, don’t run from it. That gives us all hope, Laura. You have done a wonderful thing today.” (Great question, I am so happy that you asked this! ) [We didn't pay her to say this!]
S&S: Congratulations! You have six more Sterling Lakes books contracted through July 2014 with Desert Breeze. Are the books a progressive series featuring the same characters? What a joy the Sterling Lakes Series is! Yes, really for the most part. By that I mean the series is definitely a progressive series thematically, and that’s why this third book of the nine attempted to propel the story arc out a bit further – the series also has recurring characters from Sterling Lakes, as well as featuring a few choice newcomers. Most of all, I am writing these so that a reader can jump into the series any time and become acquainted with Sterling Lakes and the good folks associated with this wonderful town. Hopefully, then, they would be inspired to read another one. (Could I just add the neighboring town, Clark’s Falls, was inspired by Central Falls, RI, home of Academy-Award nominee Viola Davis )
S&S: Give us a Reader’s Digest version of a typical day for you.
Another great question! [Again, no pay, but lots of praise!] Up, to work at my day job as a copy manager at a national jewelry retailer, gym and home, write. Yikes!
S&S: With six more books in the queue, when do you sleep? Describe your current writing space (dust bunnies and all); then give us your dream space.
My laptop holds a place of honor! It’s in a cozy corner by a sunny window on a spindly table.
My dream space? A octagonal-shaped library/study with sliding hidden doors, book shelves like Henry Higgins, a real desk (mahogany) with drawers and a printer, plus a leather love seat over in the corner overlooking the view out to the ocean and a wet bar with a mind-reading expresso-maker lol. Thanks for that fantasy moment!
S&S: Fantasy is a good thing, right? LOVED Henry Higgins’ library! Other than writing, what’s a fun thing you love to do? Love to sing, love to sun (lol) and love to mini-golf – not that I’m any good!
S&S: Hmmm, we love to sing, we love the sun, and we love to mini-golf (and we’re not that good). You must be one of our “other” sisters! Before you go, would you please give us a short excerpt?
As he viewed the scene in the St. Luke’s Vacation Bible School picnic area, Cliff ‘Clean-Up’ Markham adjusted the brim of his baseball cap and said a silent prayer of thanksgiving.
You brought me back here to Sterling Lakes, Lord, safe and sound again after another year and for that I give You thanks.
He eyed the group of somber children sitting dutifully on the benches. Not all of them are as fortunate as I am. I’ll never forget the gifts You gave me, and I will always praise You for them. But, come on, we’ve got to liven this place up. They need spirit. Your spirit, Lord. Help me impart the joy of your spirit to them. Amen.
Bounding across the lush, green lawn on the long legs that had been his ticket to a career as a major league baseball outfielder, Cliff cried, “Play ball!”
Every head turned his way, and soon the lawn was a kaleidoscope of color and motion as the youngsters flew across the grass to him.
J.B. Norwood, head of the St. Luke’s Vacation Bible School, exclaimed, “It’s Cliff! It’s Cliff! He’s back! Hi there, Clean-Up!”
“Clean-Up!” A laughing group of children reached him, swarming him before any adults.
“There you are, Russell. Jeremy, whoa, you got tall. Hey, Margaret, how’ve you been? Say, Bucky, what’s up?”
“They call me Billy now,” the boy replied, kicking the ground.
“Right. Good to know.”
Cliff reviewed the sea of faces before him — some familiar to him and some new from last year’s session. In each one he read hope, youth, goodness… and a desperate need for direction and connection.
Then he saw her. Standing by the edge of the grass. Tall, wearing a blue dress. A vision like something from the pages of a magazine.
He smiled, and she walked towards him. Her long, dark hair swayed gracefully with her every rhythmical step. She was in her early twenties, he guessed. She smiled, and Cliff felt the ground shudder under him.
Beaming, she opened her arms and said, “Children, give Mr. Markham some room to breathe, okay? Why don’t we go sit together under the apple tree?”
“Miss Laurie, he’s here to play, not sit around,” came an instant protest
“Russell, you have a good point. Let’s let our star attraction decide.” She tilted her head to one side and with a mischievous half-smile, fixed her gaze on Cliff.
Not many times in his twenty-six years had Cliff Markham been stopped short. Life to him was a big game — fun, baseball, travel, women. Good times seemed to flow his way with his natural charm and ease.
Until now. The challenge radiating from those dark brown eyes stopped him in his tracks, and right away he knew he was in big trouble.
He took a few steps towards her and held out his hand. “We haven’t been properly introduced, Miss Laurie. I’m Cliff Markham. From Sterling Lakes. I play baseball with Tampa Bay Stingrays these days.” He shrugged.
Okay and let me say thank you again so much for inviting me to visit today! What a great time and I wish you both the best in your writings.
S&S: Hey, thank you! It was wicked fun! Next time we’ll try mini-golf, okay? We’re so glad you came!
For more information on Regina, please check out the following links:
Regina’s Desert Breeze Author’s Page (with links to all her books):
Barnes &Noble: Sterling Lakes Book Three: http://bit.ly/ypLxGI
Amazon: Sterling Lakes Book Three: http://amzn.to/x9LdqX
Blog: regina Andrews.wordpress.com: http://bit.ly/FNY0oj
Treble Hearts Books link to “The Perfect Proposal” http://bit.ly/lAPP21
Awe-Struck Publishing link to “In Good Faith” http://bit.ly/pLV5w