Archive for February, 2011

Love Turns the Tide is Gail’s first romance, but she’s been writing for as long as she can remember. Her first story appeared in a grammar school newspaper. Much later, she worked as an editor and copywriter. After she married she helped her husband with his business, but continued to write. Between the feature stories she wrote at work and the freelance pieces she placed, she published several hundred articles. After some of them were selected for anthologies and two ended up in museums, friends and family nudged her to “do more.” Then, she undertook a lifelong dream and wrote a novel. In 2004, the year she published her first book, Now Is the Time, the American Christian Writers Association named her a regional writer of the year. In late 2009, she published her first romance, Love Turns the Tide, an e-book. This past November an excerpt from Love Turns the Tide won the Clash of the Titles Challenge in the best nature / weather scene category.
RA: Hi, Gail! Thank you so much for visiting today! Can you tell us a little bit about your book?
Sure, but first, thanks for having me on your wonderful blog. Love Turns the Tide is a Christian romance with a bit of suspense. The main character, Cammie O’Shea, suffers a traumatic split-up with her fiancé and leaves family and friends to take a new job. She dreads meeting her boss, Bill Collins, editor of The Sun Dial, a newspaper in Destin , Florida. But a real estate developer, Vic Deleona, turns out to be her main source of angst. While she wants no new relationships he thwarts her efforts to complete an article she’s writing about him, arranges extra meetings and attempts to court her. She resists his advances. But mysterious break-ins occur at Cammie and her friend’s condos. When Cammie and Vic launch their own investigation into the vandalism, Cammie grows close to him. In the midst of the confusion she gets an opportunity to return home to her old job. Will Vic solve the crimes and win Cammie’s heart or will she leave Destin?
RA: What was the inspiration behind this work?
In short, finding true love. While I realize some people date one person, maybe two or even three, then fall in love and walk down the aisle, there are others who are hurt again and again before they find their soul mates. In a romantic way, I wanted to say, “Keep trying. Don’t become bitter and don’t give up on love.”
RA: What role, if any did your personal memories play in creating this story?
At least, some. For as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed listening to people’s stories, so they tell them to me. Over the years I’ve had both guy and girl friends talk to me about their tumultuous dating relationships and break-ups. I got my listening ear from my mother. People also told their trials and tribulations to her. Once she tried to console a young woman, who had suffered a heartbreaking split-up. Mother said, “Oh, just forget him. Someone will come along one of these days and sweep you off your feet.” My friend looked up with tears in her eyes and said, “Well, it’s going to take an awfully big broom.” Cammie makes that statement in one of her conversations.
RA: Did the tone and theme of this work relate to any other of your works? How? No, this is my first romance.
RA: There’s a saying, “write what you know”. What do you think of this? How does it apply, or not apply, to your work?
I need to be able to know something well enough to relate to it. I made Cammie a feature writer for a newspaper. I’ve never worked on a newspaper, but I have put out company press releases, magazines and bulletins. One of my bosses was a retired AP reporter who talked about newspaper work all the time. As far as emotions, I empathize with others, so I connect with happiness, sadness, hurt, frustration, etc., fairly easily whether it’s a situation I’ve experienced personally or not. As a writer I project the feeling into my characters’ circumstance, even though I may never have experienced that particular predicament. While I don’t write about me, there’s a part of me in everything I write.
RA: You’ve created many characters! Any new ones in the works?
Yes, a fourteen-year-old swimmer and private school student. Also, I’m working on Angie Jones, a twenty-eight-year-old who tries to reconcile her past so she can love in the present.
RA: How has your life changed since you became a published author?
I knew very little about promotion or computers. I still know very little about promotion and computers. LOL. But, I’m spending quite a bit of time learning.
RA: Many writers have discussed writing flashbacks. What are your thoughts about this technique?
As a reader, I like to read well done flashbacks. As a writer, I like to use them to give background. However, I keep reading that flashbacks currently are frowned on, so I’m trying not to use them too often or make them lengthy.
RA: Do you belong to a writer’s group? Have you in the past?
Yes, I belong to a local Christian writers group, but saying it’s local is a stretch. It’s actually quite a distance from where I live, so I don’t get to the meetings very often. I feel fortunate to be part of several online groups.
RA: What would be the best advice you could give a beginning writer?
Learn all you can about the craft by reading books and magazine articles and going to writers’ conferences. Most importantly, keep writing.
RA: Time to get personal! Could you tell us about yourself?
I swim, and I enjoy getting together with friends and family. My daughter and I have so much fun bargain shopping. We can spend an afternoon trying on clothes and laughing at the ones that are completely wrong for us. We usually end up getting only one item each. But that’s okay. Later we have to find something to go with it. That means another shopping trip, so we have something to look forward to.
RA: What is your favorite family tradition?
Since our daughter’s grown and away from home now, we love getting together on so many occasions, but if I had to pick one I’d say the midnight service at our church on Christmas Eve. We usually have a nice dinner and open our gifts. We’re one of those families who exchange presents on Christmas Eve. Then we travel in the dark, still night to church and sit in the quiet room decorated with poinsettias and wreaths. After we sing Christmas carols and listen to the Christmas story the lights dim. The ushers pass out candles and light them at the ends of the pews. We sing “Silent Night,” and by the time we finish, it’s Christmas.
RA: Favorite song? I also love so many beautiful songs, but if I have to pick one, I’ll say the Halleluiah Chorus. We end the Christmas Eve Service with it every year.
RA: Favorite personal memory? Fortunately, I’m blessed with lots of good memories. I can’t pick just one. I’ll say shopping with my Mother when the two of us went downtown and spent the day together, my wedding and the day we brought our daughter home.
RA: And what’s next for you, writing-wise? Could you tell us what to expect in any other books you’ll be releasing? What will you be focusing on in the future?
’m working on a teen novel and another romance set in Destin. The teen novel deals with problems faced day to day by youngsters as opposed to being in the vein of Harry Potter. The new romance tells the story of Angie Jones, who manages a ladies’ boutique in the Florida panhandle. While she would like to fall in love, she’s haunted by past problems that make it difficult for her to give away her heart. She also has to deal with a testy situation at work and pranks that turn into crimes.
RA: Thank you so much for sharing with us, Gail. Good luck and please come back again soon! It was my pleasure, Regina .
Intro and Excerpt: Cammie, a feature writer for a newspaper, is attracted to Vic, a real estate tycoon she’s writing about. But she doesn’t want to be hurt again. She can’t wait until she’s finished his article and won’t have to keep seeing him. They’ve just completed their last business meeting. He asks to see her. Taken off guard, she suggests they feed the ducks in the lake near her condo. He agrees, but wants a commitment for a date:
Vic had no right to keep insisting that she go out with him. Maybe she didn’t want to offend him because she was afraid of the effect it would have on The Sun Dial, but was it possible that she liked him more than she admitted to herself? If so, that was all the more reason not to go out with him. She couldn’t stand the pain of another relationship. Perhaps a suggestion for a daytime get-together would solve the dilemma. “How about church on Sunday morning?”
There was such a long silence Cammie thought perhaps he wasn’t a Christian. Finally, he asked, “Did you have one in mind?”
“Yes, St. Anne’s, the rock chapel that overlooks the water. Have you ever been there?”
“No, no I haven’t, but I could go. What time do you want me to pick you up?” Vic’s voice sounded strained.
“Well, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”
“Why would you say that?”
“You’re certainly less than enthusiastic.”
“Maybe I am, but I’ll go.”
Cammie heard resentment in Vic’s voice. She wondered why, but she feared if she asked he’d deny the bitterness and start an argument. “If you really don’t want to attend I’d rather you wouldn’t.”
“I’m sure the church is lovely.” Vic’s tone told Cammie he didn’t want to discuss it further.
“All right, it starts at eleven, so we probably need to leave here about ten-thirty.”
“That’s fine,” he said as he pulled up in front of Cammie’s unit. “Do you want to go in and get something to feed the ducks or do we need to get them treats from the Magic Market?”
“No, I’ll be right back.” While Vic waited beside his Lexus, Cammie went indoors, rushed into the kitchen, and grabbed a whole loaf of bread. When she returned she said, “The little ‘quackers’ will eat well tonight.”
Then they strolled toward the lake, making their way onto the weathered gray bridge underneath lanterns that spanned the entire structure beneath the soft light of the moon and stars.
Cammie opened up the food and called out, “Here ducky, ducky, ducky,” into the still, quiet night. She and Vic tore six slices of the ducks’ treats into small bites, throwing them over the rail without talking.
Immediately Cammie heard, “Quack, quack, honk, honk.”
“I believe there are Canadian geese out there,” Vic said.
“Oh yes, you know how those snow birds like to come south. I think they got here, loved Destin as much as I do, and didn’t want to go home.” She couldn’t believe her own words. Had she hidden her true feelings about Destin somewhere in her heart only to have them surface suddenly when she wasn’t expecting it?
Vic took hold of her shoulders with both of his strong hands, gently turned her toward him. “Do you really like it, Cammie?” His eyes looked wistful, his face bathed in the fountain’s pink, blue, and yellow colors.
“Yes, I’m enjoying living here much more than I thought I would.” Cammie pulled free, tore up several more slices of bread, and tossed them over the gray weathered rail. “I had to move to Destin on such short notice. I’d never even visited here and had no time to find out anything about the place before I arrived.” She almost told him she’d had to hurry down here to interview him, but she thought better of that. “Needless to say, I begrudged the change at first, but not now.”
“I hope I’m part of the reason you like it here.”
Cammie stumbled for the right words. “Uh yes, I’m sure you are.”
“What kind of statement is that? Am I, or am I not, part of the reason you like Destin?” Small angry furrows creased Vic’s handsome brow.
Cammie stopped tearing up the bread slice she held in her right hand. “Do you want an honest answer?”
“Sometimes you are, but other times you aren’t.”
“That’s not much better. Would you mind giving me a ‘yes’ or a ‘no?’”
“Yes, I mind. Listen to the quacking. The ducks are hungry.”
“They’re going to explode. You’ve fed them nearly a whole loaf of bread.”
Read more about Gail at her Web site, http://www.gailpallotta.com and visit her blog at http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com. Love Turns the Tide can be purchased at http://www.awe-struck.net. E-certificates are available at Eagles’ Wings Books & Gifts in Destin , Florida , and Sweet Spirit Bookstore in East and West Cobb County , Georgia .

Leave a comment and be entered in Gail’s drawing for a giveaway!


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Chapter One

The afternoon class at Tanglewood Women’s Prison was a spectrum of tension, as separated and splintered as a beam of light refracted through a prism. Cascade Preston held her student’s template assignment up to the light overhead, and spoke carefully on the quality of the stained glass project.

“With two lights, or openings, Brenda, I would say your idea of a church window for this one would be correct.”

Sighing, the student replied, “So you think I’m making progress?”

“Of course.” She tossed her honey-colored curls behind her shoulders. “Don’t you?”

Brenda snorted. “Heck, no. I’m in here for domestic assault. What do I know about progress? My life is over.”

This stopped Cascade in her tracks. “Look, we all make mistakes. God has told us that the sinners should flock to him. What do you think? ”

Brenda shrugged. “God has his own agenda. We’ll see what the parole board says about mine in two weeks.”

“For now, let’s focus on next week’s class. Bring me a flower for that one.”

“Where are we supposed to get a flower?” someone muttered.

“Draw one, stupid,” Brenda answered.

“Bye, ladies. Take care.”

“See you.” Sad-eyed, Brenda gave her a high-five as Cascade walked past her.

Cascade’s heels clicked efficiently with her every crisp step, as she made sure to shuttle as closely as possible alongside the beefy guard who was escorting her from the holding room. Getting into her Corolla, she whispered a prayer. “I don’t think I’m doing any good here, Lord, but I feel you telling me to stick with it. So I will. Maybe this is the kind of thing that saved my mother.” She tried to block the images of her mother’s bruises from her mind, but they wouldn’t go away. They never did.

The drive back into Boston passed by quickly, without too much traffic. “Lean on Me” blasted from her audio system, and she sang along with all her heart. At twenty-seven, she knew it was technically an oldie, but to her, it was fresh and filled with meaning.

Cascade wondered as she sang what it would feel like to have someone to lean on, because she had always been alone.

“There’s only one thing that could make tonight perfect,” she mused as she pulled into the parking area for her condo complex, “and that’s not going to happen, for sure.”

Images of her long-gone fiancée, Kevin, came into her mind and heart. Where was he this fine June evening? More importantly, why were things so much better for him without her in his life?

A form crossing her path brought her back to reality. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed someone walking towards her car. A guy — a big guy she did not recognize.

She shaded her eyes from the late day sun. Dark hair and outdoorsy looks. Work boots. “Nope,” she murmured to herself, “I don’t know him.”

Hopping from her car, she said, “Can I help you?”

“If you’re Cascade Preston, you sure can.”

He folded his arms across his chest. With all those muscles moving, Cascade could only imagine the stress put on the seams of his light blue cotton shirt.

“And you are…”

“Dan McQuay.” He extended his arm towards her. “From the site.”

“Hi.” Cascade pumped his strong hand, lost in his sky blue eyes. “What site?”

He tilted his head. “The construction site.”

“I’m not following you.”

He looked at her steadily. “I’m Project Manager for the retrofit on the church in Sterling Lakes. The one that you’re doing the windows for.”

Cascade felt her heartbeat quicken. Just hearing the name of the town where she grew up made her anxious and tense. “It seems there’s been a misunderstanding. No way am I working on anything in Sterling Lakes.” She started to bustle past him. “Now if you’ll excuse me?”

“Don’t run away, Ms. Preston. There’s a problem here.”

His tone of voice got her attention. He sounded like he cared…about her. That was crazy. She was a total stranger to him.
She nodded. “Apparently there is a problem, you’re right. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Like I said, I’m not doing any work in Sterling Lakes, and I never will. That’s the last place in the world I ever would go.”

He gave a slow whistle. “Well, that’s a loaded speech if I ever heard one.”

In spite of herself, she smiled. “I didn’t mean to get all hot and huffy, but it is how I feel, and I have my good reasons.”

He eyed her intently before he finally spoke. “Understood. The thing is, your name is on the plans that I have, and my crew is ready to get going. We haven’t heard from you, and we need to have a job meeting. Mostly, we need your specs.”

Cascade noticed the strong line of his jaw when he spoke, and oh, those bluer than blue eyes of his were so easy to get lost in. She swallowed.

“I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not contracted for that job. Your Project Executive should be able to answer your questions.” She toyed with the zipper on her oversized leather shoulder bag as she watched thunderclouds roll across his handsome face. “Look, why don’t you give me his name? I’ll check things out at my studio in the morning and get in touch with him. Maybe I can get to the bottom of this.”

“Yup.” He took his hands out of his pockets. “Here’s my business card, and here’s his. Try and remember, every day is money to me.”

“Okay, I know. I’m in business, too, so I get it. I know every job I’m on, and this one is not on my list. Let me see if I can find out why I’m on the list of subcontractors…if I really am.”

“You are.”

“I shouldn’t be, so there’s a mistake. I never even sent in a bid.”

“At least we found out something tonight,” he said with a shrug. “Other than you being a whole lot prettier in person that all those magazine articles and newspaper stories about you.”

Cascade could feel her face warm up at his compliment. “Now you’re trying to butter me up.”

“Just stating the truth, plain and simple like I always do, Ms. Preston. That’s my way. Thank you for your time.”

“You’re welcome.”

He started walking over to his truck. “Talk to you tomorrow.”

“Right. And there’s one more thing.”

He questioned her with a wondering look.

“Please call me Cascade.” Her smile lingered as she watched him drive off into the Boston twilight. Too bad this job was in Sterling Lakes. It might not be that bad to do a job with Dan McQuay. Not bad at all.


Great, thought Dan as he drove along Route 9 back to his hotel. Another fruitcake artist type who doesn’t have any touch with reality. Not a clue. He sighed.

Yet Cascade Preston seemed completely together. Tons of talent, well-spoken, and successful. Not to mention those gorgeous green eyes and honey-colored curls. What could be the glitch?

He hit speed dial on his cell phone Smart Phone. Mike Davis, his Project Executive, had to know. After two rings, Mike picked up.
“Davis here.”

“Hey Mike, it’s Dan. Remember I asked you to check on that stained-glass artist, Cascade Preston? You know, that famous one who hasn’t been showing up to the job in Sterling Lakes?”

“Yup, we did. She’s on, Dan. Signed everything.”

“Yeah, okay. The funny thing is, I just met her, and she didn’t know what I was talking about. She’s leveling with me, I can tell.”

Mike snorted. “What can I say? She’s it. Unless someone else signed her name and didn’t tell her,” he chuckled. “See you.”

“Thanks, Mike,” Dan said.

Lightning struck, sirens blared, and red flags went off in Dan’s mind. Mike had been kidding around, but his words hit the nail on the head.

Why hadn’t he thought of that? Someone else had signed Cascade’s name to those papers. But who would do that? And why?

Nothing’s ever easy. All I want to do is finish the job, get my money and move on, Forged papers, a complete lack of interest, plus a possible lawsuit with a world-famous artist spelled disaster for his project plans. They’d better have another glass artist lined up, because this one wasn’t going to do it, and the schedule had to kept, no matter what. Thirty-one years old. He needed this?

He signaled for the exit off Route 9, and as he met drove West, facing the beautiful twilight, all of a sudden Cascade’s smile flashed in his mind’s eye. Seemed like a shame she wasn’t really on board, because it might not be that bad to do a job with her. Not bad at all.

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It’s such a thrill to welcome author Stephanie Burkhart today as she celebrates the release of her newest book “The Count’s Lair,” offered by Desert Breeze Publishing. Let’s hear what she has to say!

I’m excited to be here at Regina’s blog today. Thanks so much for having me here.

Just a little about me: I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. After graduating from Central High, I joined the US Army. I spent 11 years in the military, 7 in Germany. While in the military, I earned a BS in Political Science from California Baptist University in Riverside, CA in 1995. I left the Army in 1997 and settled in California, but my favorite football team is still the New England Patriots. I work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher. I’ve been married for 19 years. I have two boys, Andrew, 8, and Joseph, 4.

How a story grows organically

Count Anton Varga is the handsome, yet moody hero in my latest release, “The Count’s Lair,” a paranormal romance set in Budapest, Hungary during Christmas in 1901. Lady Amelia Andrassy is the beautiful, yet melancholy heroine. Their story came to me naturally, an outgrowth of the events that occurred in Book 1 of the series, “The Hungarian.”

In “The Hungarian,” I always intended Anton to be a redeemable foil for Matthias. He comes close to crossing the line, but thankfully, doesn’t. There’s a touch of humanity underneath his feral nature.

Amelia is Kate’s good friend in “The Hungarian.” In Book 1, Anton and Amelia meet in the middle of the story, but it’s not until the spark that passes between them in the Duma’s bookstore toward the end of the novel, does Anton and Amelia realize their attraction.

Anton decides he wants to court Amelia, but he needs to sort out his emotions and tame the best. Amelia also has issues to deal with. When “The Hungarian” ends, neither Anton nor Amelia are ready for romance.

“In Moonlight Sonata,” a free prequel to “The Count’s Lair,” Anton and Amelia become friends. Anton goes outside of his comfort zone to offer Amelia the support she needs to get through the bitterness of her husband’s death. Amelia expresses her pain and regrets through playing Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathetique.” At the end of the prequel, she thinks of Anton and dares to play the “Moonlight Sonata.”

“The Count’s Lair” opens after Anton and Amelia have spent two months apart. Have their heart’s healed enough to let love bloom?

Enjoy this excerpt:

A hesitant smile crossed her lips, as she wrapped her arms around herself, her gown hardly warming her. “Aren’t you cold?” she asked.
He frowned. No, thanks to the moon, he was as hot as an oven.
“I’m sorry.” Quickly, he took off his tuxedo’s jacket and walked behind her, draping it over her shoulders. He stayed close to her, hoping his body’s unnatural warmth would help her. She smiled her thanks. Curious, he stepped out from behind her, but stayed close by her side. She turned to look at him.
He flashed her a gentle smile. “Why did you ask if I was Catholic?”
She cocked an eyebrow. “Well, it is Christmas time.”
“It is.”
“I just wanted to know how you celebrate the holidays.”
He pursed his lips. “I normally don’t celebrate.”
“You don’t get a tree? Put up garland?”
“Why not?”
“My mother died young. My father and brother weren’t religious,” he replied.
Her eyes softened. “Your father didn’t give gifts? Sing carols?”
“My father wasn’t one to sing carols or give gifts.”
She stepped into his personal space and cupped his cheek. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s the way I was raised.”
“I have pleasant memories of Christmas.”
“Share them with me,” he said.
She flashed him a tender smile. “Well, my mother was musical. She played piano and sang. My sister likes to sing. My father would take us out into the woods, and we’d pick our tree. He’d cut it down, and we’d bring it home. We all decorated it with glass ornaments, garland, and popcorn. My mother would take us caroling with her church choir. We’d even bake special foods for the holiday.”
“What? Yorkshire pudding and rib roast?”
“How did you know?”
He chuckled. “You grew up in England, if I remember correctly.”
“I did grow up in England.”
“Near London, right? Ester?”
“It’s Esher — just outside of London.”
Again, he chuckled. “I’m sorry. I know you told me–”
“Before you left.”
“Yes, before I left.”
She stepped away from him, as if forcing distance between them for not remembering. He grabbed her wrist. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be,” she said quietly.
“Perhaps you can help me to enjoy the Christmas season,” he suggested. “Let me take you to the Kris Kringle Market in Budapest.”
Her eyes danced with delight at the suggestion. “I’d like that. When?”
He frowned. “A week from now.”


The Count’s Lair is avail as ebook for Kindle, B&N Nook, Sony Ereader, and Kobo. You can also download a copy from the Publisher’s Website at:


You can find me on the web at:




Goodie Time: Leave me a comment and I’ll be back to pick a winner who will receive a print copy of my sweet military romantic adventure, “Destination: Berlin.”

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