Friday, July 20, 2012

COFFEE, CHOCOLATE, AND A PIECE OF WESTERN AMERICANA





Welcome historical romance author Rosanne Bittner to Over Coffee. I've read many of her books over the years and I'm glad to see she's reissuing her classic western historicals as well as writing new stories for us to enjoy. On my keeper shelf are two of my favorites by Rosanne: Song of The Wolf and Tame The Wild Wind.

  • Do you have a favorite Rosanne Bittner book?


Author Rosanne Bittner here – and I like this blog title – Sia McKye’s Thoughts … Over Coffee.  I am a true coffee addict – black and strong – along with dark chocolate  - so I’m revved up on caffeine most of the time.  As I write this there is a cup of coffee at my side and a box of chocolates on my desk!

I am so happy that you asked about my books!  I have been writing for 30 years and have had 57 books published, all involving historical America!  This month (July 2012) I am celebrating the reissue by Sourcebooks of my novel THUNDER ON THE PLAINS for their Casablanca line. THUNDER is a captivating love story with a “to die for” hero and a heroine of amazing courage and determination, all set against the true history of the building of America’s first trans-continental railroad. Be sure to come to my month long virtual 4th of July party at http://rosannebittnerbookparty.blogspot.com/ and enter a contest to win a free copy of THUNDER ON THE PLAINS as well as the grand prize of a Kindle Touch!

AMAZONB&N, BAM
Sunny Landers is utterly devoted to her father's dream-a transcontinental railroad that would run from Chicago to the Pacific. Journeying west on a wagon train, she discovers for herself the glories of the unsettled country...and the unsettling half-Cherokee, Colt Travis. He was like the land of his birth: handsome yet wild, imposing, and dangerous. Against an endless horizon, Colt opens her heart to a passion she never dreamed possible. But in a country torn apart by war and progress, can they ever find a way to stay together?
A sweeping frontier romance and unforgettable novel of love from the bestselling author of Tennesse Bride. Heiress Sunny Landers is devoted to her father's dream of building a transcontinental railroad. And on the wagon train West, she discovers the glories of the unsettled country and Colt Travis, the frontiersman who would be her destiny.

Following is a short excerpt from THUNDER.  It should be noted that Sunny is our heroine, an extremely wealthy young woman who has inherited the unlikely position of being a key figure in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.  Colt (our hero) is an Indian scout (half Indian himself) who works off and on for the railroad builders and who comes from a far different world than Sunny.  Various circumstances keep throwing these two together, and in spite of the unlikely chance either of these two could belong in the other’s world, a deep passion and desire that they feel for each other keeps getting in the way of common sense, until finally … one afternoon … caught alone out on the prairie … (Colt has pulled Sunny onto his horse in front of him) –

*     *      *      *
“Tell me, Colt.  What does an Indian do with his captive?” 
For a moment everything went silent for Colt. Nothing existed but the utterly beautiful woman in his arms … her blue eyes … her golden hair.  He moved a hand to rest against the flat of her belly.  “He takes her to his tipi and makes her his slave,” he answered, his voice gruff with passion. 
She touched his face.  “That’s what I want you to do with me, Colt.  Make me your slave – today, tonight, tomorrow.” 
He shook his head.  “Sunny –“ 
She touched his lips.  “Don’t say it, Colt. I don’t know what’s right and wrong anymore, and today I don’t care.  I just want you.  I’ve always wanted you. My first time just can’t be with anyone else.  I –“ 
His kiss cut off her words, a deep, hot kiss that removed any remaining inhibitions. She could barely get her breath for the thrill of it, the ecstasy of his hand moving to her breast, the ache of womanly desires that surged in her when his tongue moved between her lips. 
  Dancer moved slightly, and she clung to Colt.  He left her lips for a moment, keeping one arm around her as he slid off the horse and pulled her after him.
*       *        *        *

          You will have to read the book to enjoy this wild love scene in the prairie grass!

I have always wanted to write, although it took me until I was 34 years old to believe I could really write an entire novel.  In the 4th grade I wrote my first little love story – Mr.and Mrs. Quack – about two ducks!  I also wrote poetry – tons and tons of it.  Sometimes I think I should put all of it together in a little book of poems.  Maybe I’ll try that.  I was the editor of our high school newsletter – editor of a house organ where I was once employed – and I took a correspondence course in creative writing over 40 years ago.

          I have always been captivated by America’s history and read stories about nothing but pioneers and Indians.  When I read a book called A LANTERN IN HER HAND by Bess Streeter Aldrich – and then the wonderful saga THE PROUD BREED by Celeste de Blasis, I realized I had to try my hand at writing a novel.  After 9 tries, I finally sold my first book, SWEET PRAIRIE PASSION, which became the first book of what turned out to be a 7-book series (SAVAGE DESTINY) which after 30 years is still selling!

I try to write every day, and in the beginning when I was still working full time I often stayed at the computer (back then it was a typewriter!) until 2:00 a.m. and then get up by 5:00 a.m. to get my family off to work and school and myself to work.  I got little sleep but managed to make it through the many other challenges that came along – all because I loved what I was doing and I love telling “true” American history through my fictitious stories, full of romance and adventure.

          Next spring book #58, a brand new book by Rosanne Bittner, will be published by Sourcebooks – PARADISE VALLEY.  I hope you will watch for it.  Just keep watching www.sourcebooks.com as well as my own web site www.rosannebittner.com for details!  And be sure to check out my blog at www.rosannebittner.blogspot.com.

Award-winning novelist Rosanne Bittner is highly acclaimed for her thrilling love stories and historical authenticity. Her epic romances span the West—from Canada to Mexico, Missouri to California—and are often based on Roseanne’s personal visits to each setting. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two sons. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

THE WHISPER OF BALANCE— AMANDA USEN




Please welcome romance author, Amanda Usen, to Over Coffee. Amanda is a writer, chef, and a romantic. She even brought us some fancy cappuccino to share with us. Isn’t that cup of cappuccino pretty—you almost want to frame rather than drink it, lol!

I love her thoughts on attitude and balance—a writer needs both to be successful.  Balance tells you when to step away and refill your creative well and the need to stay connected to your life. Most writers I know are balancing jobs, family, and writing. Balance keeps you from burning out. It helps when you have your own personal hero (who is also a talented chef) whispering balance in your ear.

Sia has been talking a lot of good sense about attitude lately. I don’t think an hour of the day goes by that I don’t ponder some form of that concept myself. In fact, in a recent e-mail to my agent, I typed, “Writing is such a head game!” It all comes from within. If, like me, you depend on outward signs of success to help you feel positive and triumphant, you might be in serious trouble if you want to be a professional writer. In fact, as my high school BFF told me last week, “I think if you wanted easy, you picked the wrong profession.” She also quoted Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, to me – a great book to read for writing inspiration.

How do you stay chained to that intangible creative force in the face of reviews, promotion, day jobs, demanding children and partners, edits, rejection and days when there are no words in your head? Coffee helps.  J  Some days it feels like too much pressure. I think that’s why Olivia, my heroine in Luscious, came into being the way she did. I am a hardcore pantser; my stories create themselves on the screen of my subconscious as I write. Olivia has reached her limit. Her marriage is over. She hates her job. Her two best friends have fallen in love with each other. She decides to quit, to give up on her current life, to go to Verona and tell her parents she doesn’t want to run the family restaurant anymore and to figure out how to pick up the pieces after she has a nice, wet meltdown in Italy.

Of course, it’s a romance – so her meltdown doesn’t proceed exactly as she plans. Also, I’m a romantic, so she has to rediscover her mojo with the help of one sweetheart of a hero, her divorce lawyer Sean. I depend a lot upon my own hero, my husband, to keep me from flying apart, too. He is the one whispering balance in my ear when I’ve been sitting in front of the computer for three days straight, trying to finish a story. Yes, you have to show up every day, but you also have to know when to take a break and fill the well. You can’t write when you’re tapped out. At least, I can’t. And it becomes progressively harder to break out of the chair the longer I’ve been sitting there.

The urge to check e-mail, check stats and rankings, tweet, Facebook or tackle the next item on the to-do list is nearly overwhelming…until I get away from it for a while. I get into the kitchen and start cooking. I go to yoga and reconnect with non-mental muscles. Recently, I went to LA to celebrate 40th birthdays with the friend I mentioned above. We ate and drank our way through her city, and I returned home full of positive energy for writing. Sometimes I have to get away from work to remember why I want to write in the first place. I can’t chuck it all and start over, like my Luscious character Olivia does, but I can force myself to take breaks from the pressure. The work isn’t going to go anywhere while I’m gone, and it is vital to my creative core to remind myself that there is more to my life than putting words on the page. I crave the pages, the external signs of progress and success, but when I lose sight of the other things that make up my life—cooking, children, exercise, reading, loving, sunlight—the words slow down, then stop. Balance, my hero whispers. Balance.

AMAZON, B&N, BAM

Luscious 
by Amanda Usen

Eat, play, love

Plain old ice cream just isn't going to cut it. To beat these blues, chef Olivia Marconi needs the good stuff: rich, creamy tiramisu gelato. And no place better to get it than Italy. 
But a fresh start is nearly impossible with Sean Kindred dogging her every move. She's been burned by his too-hot-to-handle antics before. Though there's no denying the man can still get her all fired up. 
Could a weeklong affair finally turn into something more lasting...or will it all go up in flames? 
Excerpt chapter




Since I never forgot what they taught me in school, I write what I know. Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite scenes in Luscious, where Olivia gets her groove back in the kitchen 
Excerpt 2 


There are so many things in life that can pull our focus from positivity.

  • Have you ever lost your mojo? Your balance? Your groove? How? 
  • And what did you do to get it back? 

Leave a comment below, for the chance to win a copy of Luscious.


Thanks for having me on the blog today, Sia. I always enjoy sharing a cup of coffee with a fellow attitude adjuster! J


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Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers on the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. They married after graduation in a lovely French Quarter restaurant in New Orleans. After enjoying the food and the fun in the Big Easy for a few years, they returned to Western New York to raise a family.
Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes at a local community college and her nights writing romance. She’s a member of the Romance Writers of America ® and theWestern New York Romance Writers. When she’s not writing, teaching or baking, she can usually be found chasing the kids around the yard with her very own scrumptious husband.


You can find Amanda: Facebook, Website--be sure to check out her recipe page!

Monday, July 16, 2012

MONDAY MUSING: BLESS HIS HEART


I'm hiding the tan one from hubs. It's the one he'll love. Sigh.



I think I mentioned that I’m a multi-creative person. There are many things I enjoy doing using those skills. It works well with writing and I’m steadily plugging away on my story—one chunk of words at a time.

Then there is my living room. God knows it is in dire need of creative attention. It’s pictured in Webster’s as the definition of blah. Go ahead, laugh, but I swear it’s true.

When we bought our house, several years ago, there were so many things that needed attention. It was a sound house but honestly, it was the outside that was the draw—barns, pasture, room for my growing family of Great Danes. It didn’t help that I couldn’t actually move there until my son finished out his school term. Two separate households for almost a year. My husband, bless his heart, tried to put things in order and arrange the furniture set up the kitchen and bedrooms. But his idea of decorating and mine are, well, poles apart. I don’t do, gasp, naked walls. Especially naked white walls. Years in the military just put a major hurt in my soul over the color white—except for ceilings. I love bright white ceilings.

There was just too much to do outside to worry about the inside. I had hay fields to harvest, pens for the Great Danes to build, and I needed to prepare for the horses moving up to their new home. Fences fortify, a barn and outbuildings to clean, a new lagoon to build, replacing pipes some numbnut put in wrong.

When I had the chance to breathe I really got a look at the inside I calculated and decided oh, well, sheetrock will have to wait and we’ll live with white, shudder, paneling. That didn’t keep me from incorporating lots of color—after all, I had lots of experience doing that—pictures, wall d├ęcor, cushions, throws, and nick knacks. At least the carpet wasn’t a shade of white.

This is the year of redoing the living room. 


Hubs cringed when he saw my color selections. He looked lost over terms like focal wall and color accents, and he actually shuddered when he considered the upheaval and chaos involved.

“It’s called Pomegranate? Isn’t this color you painted the barn a couple of years ago?” 
“Nope, that was barn red exterior rustoleum. This will have a satin finish. Not at all the same shade. See?” I take him outside so he can look down toward the barn and hold up the paint chip. He squints in the direction of the barn and back at the chip.  “It’s really, um, bright.” 
“Yeah, isn’t it wonderful?”  He gives me that look he reserves for people who have seen UFO’s and met the aliens. “Are you sure this green and purplish color goes with pomegranate?”  I launch into an explanation of accent colors complementary tetrad colors. His eyes glaze over. 
“Honey, trust me. You’ll love it when it’s done. You’ll see how the lime green and lavender pillows will blend and make the room pop.” His jaw drops at the mention of lime green and lavender and mutters under his breath. I think I heard something about sunglasses. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t mention the turquoise and lime plaid throw I have on order.

So, with him being out of state for several weeks of training, it’s the perfect time to redo the room. It’s not done yet, but I am intimately acquainted with Lowe’s cavernous floor plan (I hadn’t set foot in this store until this week). I’ve trekked miles, the past week, in search for everything I need. I know the clerks by name. I’ve ferreted out all the sale items. I’ve ordered clearance sale (I love clearance sales even though I don’t love shopping) lamps online and saved seventy-five percent off store price (Pats myself on the back).

I’ll let you know how my traditional husband deals with the finished product. Wait until he sees the turquoise watering can vase with sunflowers and purple heather arrangement. He’s just going to love that throw I got for the back of his recliner, too.

Bless his heart.