Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Welcome Guest Author Tamara LeBlanc!

Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog, Pam! I’m thrilled to be here today in order to let your followers know a little about myself and my new book available now in print and e-book formats.

I'm a fiction writer and author of contemporary, paranormal and historical romances layered with eroticism that builds into a satisfyingly happy ending…in more ways than one.
I've been writing all my life, creating characters, fashioning plots, researching ideas. But about eleven years ago I met my critique group and with their help I moved forward in my career by joining Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. I owe much of my success to these three phenomenal groups.

My newly released novel The Mayor’s Bride; A Match in Magnolia Falls Romance is the first in a series set in the fictional town of Magnolia Falls, Georgia. Though the books in this series are linked by family they are completely stand alone as well and all end with a happily ever after.

Here is the blurb:
When Alex York, the Mayor of Magnolia Falls, hears his young son speak for the first time in two years, he immediately hires the woman responsible to be the boy’s live-in nanny. Though Alex never intends to seduce her into his bed, Ella Slipper’s endearing eccentricities, rebellious nature and startling blue eyes are impossible to resist.   Ella wants to keep things professional, but she can’t help melting in Alex’s arms.  He might help her forget the pain of her past, but can she let the sexy single dad into her heart?

Pinning her gently against the wall he cupped her face in both hands. “Ella.” The way he said her name, hardly more than a whisper, made it seem like the air itself held its breath in anticipation. Raw emotion darkened his green eyes. He leaned in and pressed his lips against hers.
Their first kiss had been rough and hungry. They’d fallen into bed in a frenzy and he’d wasted no time separating her from her towel. 
This was different. 
He took his time, like he wanted to savor every second. The softness of his lips, the gentle pressure against her mouth, the warmth of his fingers sliding into her hair, spun the butterflies into a vortex of frantic fluttering in her core.
This kiss was different, but just as thrilling and sexually intoxicating as it had been last night. 
Her lips parted beneath his, inviting his tongue to caress the recess of her mouth. Her brain and knees were made of bubbles. She held on tight so she wouldn’t float away.

I truly enjoyed writing this story. The relationship between Ella, Alex and his little boy, Eric, is not a complicated one, but I believe its emotional appeal is relevant enough to ring true.
Love does not always come easily. Sometimes it eludes us, frustrates us, makes us want to pull our hair out, but to me, crafting a happily ever after in the wake of turmoil and despair can be very satisfying, both as an author and a reader.
Love is worthwhile. Love is necessary. Love is as important as air.
So is a good book.
I hope you feel the same way about The Mayor's Bride that I do.

I love hearing from you.
To connect with me,

Happy reading and best wishes,

Tamara LeBlanc
Award Winning Author
The Mayor's Bride; A Match in Magnolia Falls Romance
Available: CLICK HERE

NOTE: Tamara is giving a FREE DOWNLOAD of The Mayor's Bride to one lucky reader! Just leave a comment below to be entered into the drawing. Comments will close at midnight on Friday, November 20th. Good luck!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


From the back cover:
With the holidays around the corner, empty nester Bren Epperson realizes that for the first time in decades, she has no large family to cook for and no celebration to create. Her daughter has moved to Thailand, her son has ditched college to backpack around the world, and her husband has disappeared into the basement to indulge his midlife crisis.

So Bren starts teaching a holiday cooking class, and it's a hit - until Virginia Mash, the old lady living upstairs, bursts in, complaining of the noise, the smells, and the mess. Rather than retaliate, Bren suggests that the class shower Virginia with kindness. So they embark on a plan to lift a heart.

As much as Bren Epperson, would like to turn back the hands of time, she has no choice but to deal with the fact that this Christmas isn't going to be like the happy Christmases of the past. Everyone else seems to have moved on without her - her grown children, independent and living far away; her self-indulgent husband, too preoccupied with his own affairs to pay her any attention; even her widowed mother and aunt making plans to spend the holidays in Las Vegas. When she agrees to teach holiday cooking classes at the new kitchen shop, Bren hopes to find new meaning and purpose for the month of December.

But things don't go according to plan. Recipes fail, cookies burn, the noise level rises. Finally, Virginia Mash, whose apartment is situated directly above the busy classroom, decides she has had enough of the whole business and does everything in her power - even involving law enforcement - to stop the mayhem. And she doesn't make it easy for Bren and her students to execute their plan to "kill her with happiness," showering her with one hundred gifts. But as the reasons for Virginia's anger and bitterness are revealed, Bren and her students become even more determined to see their plan through to the end.

This is a great holiday read, an exploration of the challenges many midlife women face as they attempt to create "the perfect Christmas" for their families while floating in a sea of restlessness and self-doubt. I very much enjoyed spending time with Bren and her new friends and cannot help but wonder if there might be someone in my own life who might benefit from a hundred gifts - or maybe just one. Five warm and fuzzy stars! Very highly recommended!

And now I have an early Christmas gift for my readers! Just leave a comment below and you will be entered in a drawing for your own copy of The Hundred Gifts. Comments will close at midnight on Saturday, November 14th and the winner will be announced the following Monday. Good luck!

NOTE: I received a copy of this book for FREE in exchange for a written review. There was no expectation that this review be either positive or negative, and I was not given any financial compensation to read the book or write the review. This information is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Best-Laid Plans

It was amazing how you could get so far from where you'd planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.
~ Sarah Dessen

It started out as a tickle in my throat, a bit of a headache, some minor head congestion. Three days later it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed on a Saturday morning - feverish, swallowing glass, coughing uncontrollably - and show up for a out-of-town job adjudicating a piano festival. Knowing I was beaten, I paid the doctor a visit on the way home. He diagnosed a sinus infection and prescribed antibiotics, a steroid, and some strong cough medicine. I picked up my prescriptions, changed into my pajamas, and crawled into bed. You just need some time to rest, I assured myself. You'll be back to your healthy, energetic self by Monday. 

Except I wasn't. Last Monday morning I canceled my first several piano lessons so I could sleep just a little while longer. And even though I somehow managed to keep up with what I absolutely HAD to do - teach most of my students, attend a piano ensemble rehearsal Monday night and a music teachers association meeting Wednesday morning, fill a random custom Etsy order that came in - all I could think about was what I WASN'T getting done as the days ticked by. Practicing the piano and the clarinet. Polishing my presentation for the upcoming Georgia Music Teachers Association state conference. Plotting this year's NaNoWriMo novel. I didn't even have the energy to read. All I really wanted to do was sleep.

Now it's a whole week later and I am happy to report I am feeling much, much better. I am not totally symptom-free but at least I can get through a day without Hydrocodone; I am running at about sixty-five percent capacity but that's a tremendous improvement. Yesterday I felt well enough to start strong with NaNoWriMo (1676 words!) and to attend my first rehearsal with the newly-formed Gwinnett Symphony Wind Orchestra - my first time playing the clarinet in an ensemble since May 1981. (Turns out my stand-mate hadn't even been born yet, ha!) Now I have until Friday morning to polish up my conference presentation. And the piano is always there waiting patiently for me, now matter how sorely I neglect it.

So despite my occasional moments of despair over the past ten days, it appears I am now right where I need to be, with a renewed gratitude for the abundant health I am generally blessed with and a strong determination to take better care of myself and prevent future illness.

Do you NaNo? If so, I would love to be your writing buddy. Just search for pamasberry. And all my local followers are warmly invited to attend the GSWO's first-ever concert, to be held this Saturday evening at 7PM at the First Christian Church of Atlanta. Click HERE for details.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Celebrating Fall

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.
~ Charles Dickens

As hard as I have tried, I haven't been able find a way to hold onto summer. Despite my penchant for sundresses and flip-flops, the days of long sleeves and fleece-lined boots have arrived. Might as well stop the resistance and make the best of them, I decided.

So I have replaced the worn-out summer annuals with mums and pansies

and bundled up in sweats to enjoy long walks in my sunny neighborhood.

I am back to work on the granny square afghan I started months ago,


putting the finishing touches on my presentation for the Georgia Music Teachers Association fall conference in November,

and gearing up for NaNoWriMo.

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
So what if autumn isn't my favorite season of the year? I really don't have to look very hard to find plenty of reasons to celebrate it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

THE BEST OF ENEMIES by Jen Lancaster

From inside the dust jacket:
Bridesmaids meets Big Little Lies in a novel told from the alternating perspectives of two women who define the term frenemies - from New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster.

The central characters of this story are Jacqueline Jordan, a hardcore journalist who has been in the Middle East for the past ten years, and Kitty Carricoe, soccer mom extraordinaire. The only thing these two women have in common is their mutual best friend Sarabeth Chandler, and their differences turned into mutual hatred back in college when Jack "accidently" hooked up with Kitty's boyfriend.

But their love of Sarabeth is greater than their differences, so both women drop everything to be with their friend when they learn that her wealthy and powerful husband has died in a suspicious plane crash. Eventually, they decide to put aside their differences and go on a road trip together in order to solve the mystery.

I will admit that I had a bit of a hard time getting started with this book. I found the prologue to be a bit confusing (albeit hilarious) and the first chapter was written from the point of view of the shallow and snobbish Kitty Carricoe. I wouldn't choose to spend time with her in real life and wasn't sure I would be able to stomach her personality in fiction. But I'm glad I stuck it out. This turned out to be a great women's friendship story, with the author using both humor and sarcasm to portray the challenges of a three-way friendship. In the end, this book was highly entertaining, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and enough plot twists to keep me up until the wee hours to find out the truth about the plane crash. Turns out Jen Lancaster is as gifted a fiction writer as she is a memoir writer. I can hardly wait to dig into her backlist!

NOTE: I received a copy of this book for FREE in exchange for a written review. There was no expectation that this review be either positive or negative, and I was not given any financial compensation to read the book or write the review. This information is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

LOSING ME by Sue Margolis

From the back cover:

Knocking on sixty, Barbara is too busy to find herself. But when she loses her job, everything changes. Exhausted, lonely, and unemployed, Barbara is forced to face her feelings and doubts. Then a troubled, vulnerable little boy walks into her life and changes it forever...

Her grandchildren's babysitter, financially and emotionally supporting her grown children, caring for her elderly mother, teaching disadvantaged kids, 58-year old Barbara Stirling is many things to many people. But she completely loses her equilibrium when she is let go from her job due to budget cuts. Finances are already tight; Barbara's husband Frank films documentaries and he is too busy trying to save the world to pay much attention to his wife and her needs, even when she begins to suffer panic attacks. Her hypercritical mother makes things worse and her best friend isn't much help either; she has chosen to deal with her own sexless marriage by cheating on her husband with a gigolo.

Barbara finds purpose and direction by intervening in the life of Troy, one of her former students. His single mother, Tiffany, is impoverished and trying to raise Troy and his baby sister in the shadow of fear of an abusive ex-boyfriend. Barbara discovers strengths she did not know she possessed; by speaking up not for others she learns to speak up for herself and eventually she finds her life - albeit a different life - again. Alternately lighthearted and serious in tone, this book is highly relatable, especially those "women of a certain age" who find themselves caring for aging parents while helping adult children get established. Five stars! Highly recommended!

NOTE: I received a copy of this book for FREE in exchange for a written review. There was no expectation that this review be either positive or negative, and I was not given any financial compensation to read the book or write the review. This information is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, October 5, 2015

What I've Been Up To

Sometimes things just fall off your plate.
~ V. K. Springs

My academic year began on Monday, August 3rd and the weeks since have been hectic. With 61 students on my fall teaching schedule and hours of practice in preparation for a recital on Saturday, September 19th, there hasn't been time for much of anything besides the piano. In case you missed our performance, here is a sample.

Asberry & Hardy Piano Duo's rendition of Debussy's Petite Suite

I am more excited about the piano than ever and consistent daily practice, along with teaching and all that entails, will remain a constant in my life. But despite the joy and fulfillment I receive from music, I cannot seem to let go of the dream of being a published author. Toward that end, I have renewed my memberships in Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers. I missed this year's Moonlight & Magnolias conference but look forward to seeing all my writer friends at GRW's November meeting. And yesterday I attended a fabulous workshop with local writer Janice Hardy, author of Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, that proved to be the kick starter I needed to get back to work. This afternoon I spent a couple of very satisfying hours immersed in her book, actually "a series of self-guided workshops designed to lead you through developing a novel idea, drafting a summary line, creating a summary blurb, and finally writing a working synopsis" (p. 3). The goal by the end of the book is to have a solid plan from which to craft a novel. My goal is to be ready to start a new project in time for NaNoWriMo.

In the same vein, some of my readers have said that they miss reading blog; I know I have missed posting. So I am going to do my best to show up here three times a week, including a book review every Wednesday. Please note that comments are moderated for the time being, but I hope that won't stop you from becoming part of the conversation. I love connecting with my readers!

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to squeeze one more thing into my busy days. But it's important to me. So I'll find a way.