Win a Free Copy of “A bit of Christmas”


Christmas is coming around the corner. It’s time to stock up. Why not buy a lovely set of Christmas short stories in the book “A bit of Christmas”? Only $10 for a signed copy. Even better, hop over to my Facebook Author page and win a chance at a free copy by commenting on my contest post.

“A bit of Christmas” was released last year, and my story, “Just Another Navidad” appears along with five other enjoyable short stories. If you’re not on Facebook, just comment below if you’d like a copy and we’ll figure something out. 🙂

I’m happy to mail the book to anyone who’d like a copy. It’s always good to start shopping early and beat the crowds!

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A Scandalous Matter: Interview with Local Author, Margaret Locke


Independent, spirited Amara Mattersley may live under scandal’s shadow, but at least the nineteenth-century Regency society judging her is familiar. That’s all about to change when she finds herself in twenty-first-century Charlottesville, Virginia—and locking horns with one very befuddling, very male, UVA professor. 

Computer science professor Matthew Goodson has no time for love—no time for anything, actually, but his quest for tenure and his obsession with the screen. The last thing he expects is to get side-swiped by this adorably odd British miss. Yet something in her calls to him, pulls at him, in a way unknown—and uncomfortable. 

Can the past and the present blend together into a mutual future? Or will old wounds and new complications sabotage any chance at a twenty-first century happily ever after? 

 

Margaret (teehee), I’m so glad to chat with you today about your next book in your Magic of Love series, A Scandalous Matter. Tell us what it’s about!

Thanks so much for having me, Allison! I’m delighted to be here. J

Here’s a short summary of A Scandalous Matter:

 Scandal-scarred Amara Mattersley has had enough of men and the woes they cause. She wants only independence – and an education on par with that of her brothers. To find both, she time travels to present-day Virginia, determined to stay free from emotional attachments. Until she finds herself entangled with very attractive, but also very befuddling, computer science professor Matthew Goodson. Can past and present blend into a Happily Ever After future?

 

So I’ve read the first book in your series, A Man of Character, and I love love loved it! How does this new book compare and differ from your first? And can someone who’s never read the first two start with this one?

A Man of Character features the same setting as A Scandalous Matter—present-day Charlottesville, Virginia. Both books also have intelligent heroines encountering likewise brilliant computer science professors. Go figure. But A Man of Character’s main peeps are both from this century, as opposed to Amara and Matthew’s story, which has the time travel element, and therefore marked cultural differences and experiences, tossed in.

And yes—any of my books can be read independently from the others, though if one wants to avoid potential small spoilers, I suppose starting from the beginning makes the most sense. But no one has to, so dive in where it most interests you!

 

I heard you’re getting famous and winning some awards! 🙂 How does it feel?

I like the way you exaggerate!

I am extremely privileged to have finaled thrice in the 2016 Virginia Romance Writers HOLT Medallion competition (Best First Book for A Man of Character, and Best Paranormal Romance plus Best Book by a Virginia Author for A Matter of Time).

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I didn’t win, but finaling means I was in the Top 5, and that’s pretty darn amazing. Me? Little old ME? Who’d never written a book before?

It’s super exciting, but also feels quite surreal. Most of this new venture has felt surreal at times, actually. It’s a wild ride, often high, occasionally low, but I love it!

 

As a budding author, I always love to know how you got started with writing and how you got published?

I’d said since I was a teen that I was going to write romances when I grew up, but I went on to follow different dreams. Though the recent discovery of romance plot ideas I’d scribbled down in my 20s shows the interest never fully left.

In the fall of 2011, when my daughter entered kindergarten, I needed to figure out what I wanted/needed to do, since both kids were now in school full-time. I’d been a doctoral student in medieval history at one point, but had spent ten years as an at-home mom. Did I want to enter the work force? Did I have any marketable skills remaining after such a long hiatus? One night over dinner, my husband asked me what I truly wanted most. My immediate answer was, “to write.” His answer? “Go for it.” (See why I married him?)

As for publishing, that was a long and winding road. I originally embarked on the traditional route of seeking an agent and getting published by a company. I queried a zillion people and some small presses. I had nibbles and one big bite from a small press, but by that point, I’d read a lot about self-publishing and met other authors having lots of success with that route (including Katy Regnery, who’s now a USA Today and NYT Bestselling Author, but she took the time then to give me advice!). I decided indie publishing suited my and my family’s needs and temperament best – but it’s definitely not an easy road. Not that any path to publishing is, but being an indie author means I’m in charge of it all—and I’m battling to prove my worth against the still-lingering notion that indie authors aren’t as good as traditionally pubbed authors (as with anything, you’ve got good and bad on both sides of the fence, right?). Lots to learn, lots of mistakes to make, but in my heart I know it was the best choice for me.

Margaret – hanging out with famous author, Eloisa James (left) and with fan, Annie (right)

I am a sucker for romantic comedy movies but have never gotten into reading romances. The reason I loved your first book is I felt like I was reading something that might have starred Meg Ryan (before her weird Joker-looking plastic surgery). What inspired you to start this series?

It’s true that A Man of Character is not fully a traditional romance, mostly because the whole premise–What if a woman discovered the men she was dating were actually fictional characters she’d written long ago?—wasn’t quite typical from the start. Most romance doesn’t feature a heroine who dates more than one guy, or a female friendship that is nearly as dominant as the love story. That’s why I call it a romantic comedy (code word these days for chick lit, as that phrase has fallen out of favor.) Chick lit tends to feature women in their 20s and 30s dealing with life and career and friendships – and yes, often romance, but that isn’t the sole focus of a chick lit book.

I didn’t set OUT to write chick lit, though – it just happened. Once the idea popped into my head, I couldn’t let go of it. The rest, they say, is history.

 

What’s next? Is this the last book of the series?

 You’d think I’d have that all figured out, wouldn’t you? A Scandalous Matter is definitely NOT the last book in my Magic of Love series—I have at least two more planned, perhaps more, since readers (and characters) keep asking for further stories. Hooray!

But my fourth book, The Demon Duke, will launch a new, purely Regency series, Put Up Your Dukes. The Demon Duke features Grace Mattersley (sister to A Matter of Time’s hero Deveric Mattersley) and Damon Blackbourne, Duke of Malford. It will debut in early 2017.

As you might gather from the series’ name, the heroes will be dukes (like A Matter of Time’s James Bradley). Some of the heroines will hail from A Matter of Time’s Mattersley family, and some won’t.

Not only will I have a ducal series, but I’ll also write stories for the other Mattersley siblings in my Matters of Love series. With this many books to write, I better get busy. Or busier, as the case may be.

If you could time travel to any era, where would you go and what crazy things do you think you’d get into?

I have to pick just ONE? Because I want to see ancient Greece and ancient Rome, Charlemagne’s era, Germany in the Ottonian and Salian periods, medieval England, renaissance Italy, Regency England, the American West, America in the 1950s (okay, that’s just for the shot to meet Elvis, mostly)…

And I think I’d rather stay on the sidelines and observe, like Scrooge. Don’t want to risk that whole butterfly effect, you know? Though I’m dying to know who built Stonehenge and why, what WAS it like in Egypt thousands of years ago, what would it sound like to hear kids in Caesar’s time speaking fluent Latin, what was it like to be alive during the middle ages, etc, etc…

 

If your novel was a movie, who’d play the main peeps?

Whew, an easier question! In my mind, A Scandalous Matter’s Amara Mattersley and Matthew Goodson are physically modeled after Jennifer Lawrence and Matthew Goode. (A Matter of Time’s Eliza James and Deveric Mattersley are a plumper Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman to me, not that you asked – and I have Pinterest boards showing those inspirations, as well as those for the characters in A Man of Character (http://www.pinterest.com/Margaret_Locke).

 

If your life was made into a German telenovela (soap opera), what would it be called?

Can I just call it Eichhörchen (squirrel)? Because that’s such a fun word to say. But probably, Die Frau, die zuviel spricht (The Woman Who Talks Too Much). Which might also be my native American name.

 

Please tell me a humorously cool story about yourself that somehow relates to your book (like fitting in somewhere you don’t belong etc).

Humorously cool story? About ME? Well, I’ve never time travelled (sadly), but I DID just get back from a trip with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop to New York City—and this Iowa girl now living in relatively rural Virginia definitely felt like a fish out of water. So many people, so much noise, so many gigantic buildings. How does anybody live there, with the high prices and mass chaos? Not quite the same as skipping centuries, but I could easily see myself gawking about as much as a Regency transplant might. Luckily, Central Park provided me the same refuge UVA’s Lawn provides for Amara in A Scandalous Matter.

 

Finally, I know you love 80s music. Please change the chorus/lyrics from a popular 80s song and make it about your book! 🙂

I do love 80s music, but man, this is a lot of pressure!

Let’s go with Prince, to honor his late greatness, and because When Doves Cry gets a shout-out in A Scandalous Matter:

When Time Flies… (apologies to Prince)

Click, if you will, the picture
Of you and I engaged in a kiss.
The brim of your bonnet covers me.
Can you, Amara,
Can you picture this?

Dream, if you can, a stone circle–
An ocean of violets in bloom.
Manuscripts bring love stories
That tell the heat,
The heat between me and you…

 

That was amazing! You are the best, Margaret! Thanks for indulging my random, fun interview! 🙂
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A lover of romance novels since the age of ten (shh, don’t tell mom!), Margaret Locke declared as a teen that she’d write romances when she grew up. Once an adult, however, she figured she ought to be doing grown-up things (such as earning that master’s degree in medieval history), not penning steamy
Turning forty cured her of that silly notion. Margaret is now happily ensconced back in the clutches of her first love, this time as an author as well as a reader. 

Margaret lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with her fantastic husband, two fabulous kids, and two fat cats. You can usually find her in front of some sort of screen (electronic or window); she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not an outdoors person. 

Margaret loves to interact with fellow readers and authors! You may find her here:

Website/Blog: http://margaretlocke.com

Ariel: My Interview with Sydney Scrogham


sydney Full Cover Final
Back cover copy:  Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone. Ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force. Only an ancient purification ritual, the mind link, performed with another human can cure this infection.

Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.

But she’s racing time. She’s infected, too. All the walls will have to come down so Ariel can heal or she will lose herself to the darkness forever. 

Ariel: The First Guardian is a story of true love that wins over time, the power of second chances, and redemption from abuse. This is a prequel to Chase in the Guardians of Agalrae series but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

Preorder it now on Amazon 
Hello, Sydney! I’m so excited about your new book, Ariel, that’s coming out tomorrow, June 17th. I’ve got some fun questions for you. Here we go!
What inspired you to write this book?
In all honesty, it was a bad breakup. Writing for me is a spiritual process transforming painful circumstances into something life-giving that I can understand. That’s exactly what I did with Ariel’s story. I won’t confess what parts are based on real-life events, but this story does hit close to home. As I wrote Ariel’s story and she got her happy ending, I did, too.
 
What other books/movies can you compare your book to?
When it comes to the voice of this story, definitely James Patterson’s Maximum Ride books. And then I took some of the romance aspects from my favorite TV show Castle. This was also kind of my way of ironically striking back at Fifty Shades of Grey. There are a lot of ironic connections between the stories for me, but I’ll leave it up to the reader to figure out how. (Don’t worry, Ariel’s story doesn’t contain any graphic sexual scenes.)
 
Is this the first book you have published? If not, what are some of your other books out there?
This is the second book for me. The first was Chase, published in August 2015 with Koehler Books.
 
I hear you have mild to moderate obsession with horsies…when did this all begin?
Probably when I started writing. 🙂 Actually, it was before then. There’s a picture floating around my family of me as a baby sitting on the back of a gray horse. (Yes, someone is holding me up there.) I got my own horse when I was 12, and I’ve had a horse ever since. Snowdy is my second four-legged child. I met him working at my college’s equestrian center. He picked me as his person, and when the college was ready to retire him from his school horse career, he came home with me a few months after.
 
sydney with Snowdy
Explain the feeling you get when you are riding a horse.
It’s simultaneously peaceful and empowering. My mind silences to focus on a single thing-communicating well with my horse. A horse is always speaking to its rider if they have the ears to listen. When I reach that sweet spot where we’re understanding each other, I feel invincible.
 
What’s your favorite type of horse?
It’s never been about the “type” for me. It’s about the heart. That’s what drew me to Snowdy. He was a rather aggressive lesson horse, very unhappy with life, and I remember the days when people would refer to him with expletives I won’t repeat. That made me so angry. I could see something in Snowdy’s eyes from the beginning, even when he was angry. He was intelligent, always thinking, full of potential, but frustrated. All he needed was someone to believe in him. And in that moment, I saw myself in his eyes. That was it. I was sold. Long story short, I learned Snowdy is a Selle Francais (French Thoroughbred) with a fancy sire and siblings that have gone off to be big names in the show jumping ring. But that was never important to me in the beginning. It just so happens that he has incredible natural talent. He’s been with me for three years now, happy as can be, and though he isn’t mean anymore, he did keep his sass. 🙂 It’s amazing how sometimes all animals (and people) need sometimes is a little bit of love.
 
Finally, what song would play in the opening track of your book turned into a movie?
Funny you asked that. I asked Ariel the same thing when she was teaching me her backstory before I started writing. She told me that her opening song would be “Hero” by Nickelback. The rest of her playlist includes “Hero” by Skillet, “I Know” by Seventh Day Slumber, “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence, “Invincible” by Crossfade, and “Erase” by Building 429.
 
For more from Ariel’s initial interview with me, check it out: http://www.sswriter.com/lions-tigers-characters-oh-my-interview-101/ 
Thanks so much, Syndney! Can’t wait to read the book!
sydney author photo
SYDNEY SCROGHAM loves creating happy endings. She started writing when she was 12. Her first book, Chase, was published by Koehler Books in August 2015. When she’s not writing, she’s at the barn with Snowdy or catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever – Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe. To learn more, visit her website at sswriter.com.

Gotta Keep on Keeping On…


So, I totally don’t feel like doing anything productive today or for the last few weeks (ahem months!) I have slipping into binge-watching Netflix and scrolling through Facebook, and my working daily on my writing or other stuff (like exercising) has slipping to the wayside. I keep waiting for inspiration but, as I’m sure you know, sometimes you just have to get out there and do it!

That’s why I’m blogging right now. I looked at my number of blog posts this year. Only 6! Oy vey! I’m going to set up some posts and get back on track for that.

One question for you guys is: What kind of posts would you like to see?

  1. Recipes
  2. Writing stuff
  3. Real food/local things
  4. First-time mom posts
  5. Humorous posts
  6. A mixture of many things

Let me know. That’d be really helpful! Now that I’ve set up some posts and my son is *knock on wood* sleeping through the night again, I shall resume my early morning writing routine! And today counts as the first day. Hurray!

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P.S. I haven’t totally lazed out. Here’s me with my son after I held a piano recital at my home last month.

I’m an ACFW Genesis Contest Semi-Finalist!

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Soooooo…last night I was just reading Harry Potter to my baby (’cause I’m weird like that!) and having a chill evening when I see a phone call from California. I almost didn’t pick it up, because I’ve had garbage calls from there before (“Congratulations, you’ve won a cruise to the Bahamas.” “The warranty on your car is about to expire.” etc). But, on a whim, I picked up the phone, and I’m glad I did.

“I’m calling from ACFW  to let you know you a Semi-Finalist in the Contemporary category for the Genesis Contest.”

I was floored.

This was the third I had put that particular manuscript in the contest. Maybe this year will be different, I had thought. And, alas, it was!

ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) is a worldwide organization with more than 2600 members, so this is a big deal! My story ended up in the top 7 out of 153 entrants for my category. Whoa! If you can’t tell, I’m definitely freaking out over here! So excited!

Anyhooooooo, this is about the best news I’ve heard in a while, so I figured I’d share. Don’t give up on your dreams! I started writing as soon as I could pick up a pen, and I wanted to be a writer since I was a child (I may have pictured myself on Opera Book Club as an amazing child author superstar).

I’ve been working hard at the craft for a lot of years, and things seem to be picking up in the last year or so. I thank God, because He’s the One who makes things happen.

Check out the other semi-finalists here!

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Best Laid Plans…


Well, hello there! I bet you’re surprised to hear from me! That’s because I haven’t blogged in forever! I have a sort of good excuse though…a baby!

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His name is Miguel, and he’s the cutest baby ever (no bias here, only the truth!) Now that he’s almost 10 weeks old, I’ve gotten back into writing and have been thinking about all the things I thought I’d do after I had a baby. Ha! Thus begins this week’s blog post, “Best Laid Plans…”

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Things I (a first-time mom) thought I’d do after I had a baby:

1. Get a lot of writing done – Ha! Well, THAT didn’t happen! Taking care of a baby is a lot of work. Even though I don’t nap (never could), there seems to be a never-ending stream of thank-you notes to write, dishes to wash, and laundry to clean. Oy vey!

2. Relax with some time to myself – See #1 plus feeding a baby takes up about a quarter of the day, not to mention diaper changes, and making sure he’s learning things when he’s awake.

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3. Be really shy about breastfeeding – How can you when you’re that tired? After a while, you pretty much just check with anyone who hasn’t seen them already and occasionally attempt to keep things covered up a bit. Try this on a windy day in the park! Doesn’t work very well! True story!

4. Use cloth diapers after the first week – Still haven’t used them. I remember thinking that the size one diapers looked sooooo tiny that he wouldn’t fit into them. Then when he was born, it turned out, babies are pretty small! haha! When we ran out of the newborn diapers and tried the size ones, they were ginormous! Compared to that, the cloth diapers are like onesies! I think if they had straps across the tops, my baby could wear them like a jumper! He’s had a recent growth spurt, so I’m thinking of attempting to try him in one soon. 🙂

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5. Really want to go back to work – Nope! This is the good life! I miss the people, but I can totally see why people want to be stay-at-home parents. Miguel is just so darn cute, and every day is like a tiny, new adventure. Also, he’s starting to do stuff like reach for my face and babble and look at books when we read. It’s going to be really hard to leave him for eight hours a day. In fact, just thinking about it makes me teary.

6. Take a normal amount of pictures – What was I thinking? I should’ve just looked at how many pictures I have of my dog sleeping and realized that I’d take about ten times that many for my first child. When I transferred the pics to Shutterfly, I realized I only had about 15 since he was born that didn’t include his cute little mug. ha!

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7. Have no idea what to do – Okay, this was only slightly true. Some maternal instinct just kicks in, but also I’ve gotten loads of great help from family, friends, and medical professionals (not to mention Google).

8. Never sleep again – Hallelujah! Miguel is a sleeper! He loves to sleep a good 6-8 hours every night. I still don’t sleep very soundly, waking up to check on him frequently but it’s really not so bad. Also, I have begun to enjoy the occasional cup of coffee in the morning.

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9. Let the baby sleep in his nursery – Nope. Hasn’t happened. He’s hardly in the crib at all. He’s mostly next to me on the couch, on my chest, in his bouncer seat, chilling on the bed, or in his bassinet in our bedroom at night. Side note…the dog is also now sleeping in our bedroom…hmmmmmm…how’d that happen?

10. Speak Spanish to Miguel a lot – Anyone bilingual out there will understand that in times of crisis and stress, you revert back to your native tongue…of which mine is English! Thankfully the stress is now decreasing, so we have a plan to speak four days a week in Spanish and three in English. Wish us luck!

So, as you can see, things haven’t gone quite as planned but motherhood is definitely better than I could ever have imagined.

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FLASHVERSARY IS HERE!


FLASHVERSARY IS HERE!.

An All-Consuming Fire

By: Allison K. García

150 words

Everyone told me to let it go. So many years had passed, they said. Just forgive and forget.

But I couldn’t.

The pain seared fresh. The memory of it burned into my brain like a brand. The anger scorched my insides, eating away at my humanity, charring my soul until it was nothing but ash.

The blazing fire could not be contained. No amount of time was enough, no treatment strong enough, no person wise enough.

The problem is, the fire won’t go out until you’re ready to let it die. And I was never ready. So it kept burning.

After decades of hate blistered my heart, my body, my mind, and my soul, it finally consumed me. I never forgave. I never even tried. I held onto it with my dying breath.

But I should have listened to them. In the end, I only traded one fire for another.