Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Teaser Tuesday AND Yellowstone Deception Release Date

Today's teaser is from Yellowstone Heart Song, Book 1 in the Yellowstone Romance series, the book that started it all for me. 

Jana closed the journal just as a cold breeze hit her. The front doors of the parlor opened, and a group of jovial hikers led by a ranger walked in. Jana blew her nose and wiped new tears from her eyes.
“Now what would cause such a lovely woman to cry on such a beautiful day here in Yellowstone?”
Jana looked up, startled by the ranger who had sat down next to her on the couch she occupied. A split second passed, and Jana shrunk back in shock.
“Daniel?” she asked, staring incredulously at the man sitting next to her.
“Yeah, my name’s Daniel,” he said, smiling and pointing to the name badge on his uniform. “But most everyone just calls me Dan.”
Jana stared at the name badge, and back at the man’s face. The badge clearly read “Daniel Osborne”.
“How . . . ? What . . . ?” she stammered. She continued to stare at the man’s handsome face. There were some subtle differences from what she remembered of Daniel’s features, but the resemblance was remarkable. The black hair was cropped short in a modern military style, and the intense dark stare that she remembered was absent. This Daniel’s chocolate eyes sparkled brightly.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” the ranger flashed her a radiant smile. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Jana replied slowly. “You remind me of someone.”
“Well, I hope that’s a good thing,” he grinned. “So, you didn’t answer my question.”
“What is a lovely lady doing in this grand park, crying. There is no such thing as a bad day in Yellowstone.”
“I was reading.” Jana shrugged, fingering the leather bound journal in her hands.
“Tell you what.” Dan patted her on the knee. “I just got back from a six hour hike, and I’m real hungry and thirsty. Would you care to join me for dinner and a drink? I’m off duty as of now.”
“Sure, I’d love to.” She was still staring at him, disbelief on her face. “Can I ask you something?” she asked tentatively.
“Has your family lived in this area long?” Jana realized what an odd question that was, but she had to find out if her suspicions were true.
Dan laughed. “My family has roots here since time began. I think my great, great, great, great, something great-grandfather was one of the first fur trappers in this region. I was named after him. Legend has it he fell head over heels in love with a woman who appeared out of nowhere in the Yellowstone wilderness, and they lived happily ever after. What a weird question to ask, though.”
 “Well, Dan.” Jana stood up. “It’s about to get a lot weirder.” 

I promised in last week's Teaser Tuesday post that I would announce the release date for Book 5 this week:

Yellowstone Deception will release on Amazon on Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Madison Junior Ranger Station, Madison River and National Park Mountain to the left

I had an earlier date I was working towards, but since my family and I will be gone from June 15 - July 3rd (yes, we'll be in Yellowstone!), I simply can't get the book out any sooner than the week after we return. I'm sure I'll be sitting in the meadow behind the Madison Junior  Ranger Station with my laptop on my knees, working on revisions and edits, while my husband and kids climb Purple Mountain, or hike some other nearby trail. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Guest Author - Jannine Corti Petska

 I'm so pleased to welcome Jannine Corti Petska as my guest author today!

Welcome, Jannine. Please introduce yourself. Tell us a little about the person behind the pen.

I’m Jannine Corti Petska, author of historical romances. I began writing 30 years ago when my three daughters were young. I’m a native of New York although I’ve lived in Southern California since the age of three.  I have 6 grandchildren, 3 Rat Terriers and one husband!

Why did you decide to write  historical romances? What is the appeal?

I hated history in school, mostly due to the fact that my teachers were boring. (I loved and excelled in English grammar and writing.) It’s rather odd that I’d end up researching and writing historicals. But thanks to Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey, I was hooked. I discovered how much I had missed by not paying attention in my history classes. I suppose I’m making up for it now, lol.

Stories of romance mixed with the historical background goes hand-in-hand for me. A romance can come out of any situation. I become a part of the history and travel to places I’d never been or would never go to.

How much research goes into your books, and how do you tackle that?

An idea for a story will pop into my head. Setting depends on the story’s plot. Then I establish my hero and heroine, names included. That’s always been a must for me before I begin to write.  I lived in libraries, searched used book stores and library book sales, and antique stores to find books on the subject I needed. When I started, there wasn’t the internet. Now, however, the internet is the first place I go to learn more about the era I plan to use. I rarely step foot into a library these days. Having over 2000 research books in my home library helps me stay home while I work on the research. Still, it takes several months to compile my notes. And I continue to research during the writing process.

What is the best comment you ever received from a reader? The worst or weirdest?

It’s difficult to pick just one. Readers have said I paint a vivid picture with words. Others felt like they were transported back in time.

I haven’t had any negative comments from readers. But one reviewer said she loved the book and the writing of the western she read, but she went off on the rape scene.   There wasn’t a rape scene.  I suppose that could go under weirdest.

Tell us a little about your writing style? Do you plan and plot your stories, or do you just plow through them?

I plow through them. I have an idea where I want the story to go, but I cannot plot it out. That really cramps my writing style. However, I usually loosely plot the last 3 chapters so I know how the story is going to end. But sometimes I stray from what I thought would be the ending. I never know the certainty of a book’s end until the very last chapter.

Can you tell us a little about your current work, SURRENDER TO HONOR? Is there a story behind the story?

This book is the second in my Italian medieval series and is set in Palermo to honor my Sicilian mother. It actually tells the story of the beginning of the mafia—not that my mother was part of that organization, lol.  

The hero returns home after a 15 year absence. He finds his father dying and his family in a battle over who will rule Palermo. It’s not an official rule like a king’s. The ruler is the head of a family others can go to when there’s trouble, look to for guidance—la famiglia. And no, I don’t mean the mafia, lol. The powerful leader has wealth, respect, and brings no harm to anyone…except the bad guys.

What sets your heroine Prima Ranieri apart from all the other women in your hero Antonio Massaro’s life? Why is she perfect for him?

Antonio is about peace and doesn’t carry any weapons.  But do not mistake him for a beta male. Quite the contrary.  The women in his past were bored wives, single women, or any woman he desired to satisfy his sexual needs. But Prima is a warrior. She dons armor and is an expert with several weapons as she battles the evil Falcone family. You might say she was 600 years ahead of women’s lib. <g> She doesn’t frighten easily and is a huge source of frustration and intrigue to Antonio. Really, their relationship is a case of opposites attract. But in dealing with her impulsiveness, Antonio learns a lot about himself and about true love.

Have you ever had writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I’ve had nearly 10 years of writer’s block, lol. The turn of events in my life and the stress I’ve endured nearly killed my thought process. I couldn’t think beyond the simple plot idea of (for example, from TEMPT NOT MY HEART, book 4 of my Italian medieval series) the hero goes to Siena for business and the yearly Palio but gets caught up with a few not so nice people with ulterior motives. The heroine is not your dainty female. She’s tall and somewhat a plus-size woman. And she desires to go to Siena’s medical school but cannot afford to get in.

Plot ideas during those 10 years were stagnant. I’d gotten very depressed because my mind was virtually blank. I’ve never been good in dealing with writer’s block. I let it eat me up.

Then last year, one of my editors asked if I’d write a short story for a certain line. I was terrified. I had written only one book three years back, and it was a struggle to find the words and ideas. That went on from beginning to end of that story, which took 7 months to write. I’ve never gone past 2 months to write a full-length novel. But it was such an honor to be asked, so I accepted. That started me on the road to writing again. In November, I did the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time (and last!) and muddled my way through the 50,000 words required to “win” the challenge.  It pushed me into rebooting my thought process. I still struggle for ideas, but I usually go out and garden, play with my three dogs, watch Italian professional soccer on TV—basically anything that does not require me to think. That allows my mind to be free to whatever thoughts about my story pop into my head. For a while there, I had the neatest gardens, and I think I wore my dogs out. J 

Can you give us a little background on your hero Antonio Massaro that’s only in your author notes, and not found in your story?

What you see is what you get. I always reveal all my hero’s secrets by the end of the book. If there’s anything in creating his character that I don’t use, I make note of it for another hero. I detest secretive people— I’m suspicious of them. I’m all about the truth. That’s why my hero and heroine come clean by the end of the book.

What inspired you to create this character?

Antonio is a combination of many male relatives, all Italian, of course! If my hero’s tall with black hair, then he has a bit of my favorite cousin Sonny (Antonio is his real name) whom I had planned to marry in my little girl dreams.  (He was 20 years older.)

My hero Antonio was the stable master in book one of my Italian medieval series, THE LILY AND THE FALCON. In that book, there was a lot of mystery behind his character. But that wasn’t his story, so I brought none of that mystery to light.

Describe a favorite scene in your current novel.

Prima likes to train with her weapons and Antonio’s men to keep her skills up. She’s an expert at archery, and as adept with a sword in her hands. One day, he’s fed up with her distracting his men and challenges her to a swordfight. Because it’s known that he doesn’t carry weapons, she figures he wouldn’t be much of an opponent. She hates to humiliate him, but she’s ticked off with him and thinks he deserves the humiliation. She soon learns Antonio is not without skill in swordplay. Curious about how that scene ends? You’ll have to read the book. J

What else do you have in store for your readers?

DANTE’S FLAME, Book 3 of my Italian medieval series, will be released in July. I am presently writing book 4, TEMPT NOT MY HEART set in Siena around the Palio. In August, MINE TO KEEP, the short story I mentioned above, will be released.

Would you care to share an excerpt from your book, SURRENDER TO HONOR, book 2, Italian medieval series


Prima Ranieri seeks retribution for her family's death and loss of home and land. Her plans go awry when the heir to the powerful Massaro family returns home. After only one glance, Prima's attraction to him undermines her furor toward those she blames for her plight.

After a fifteen year absence, Antonio Massaro returns to Palermo to find a war raging between his family and the evil Falcone. His refusal to accept his rightful position as the head of the Honored Society carries serious consequences. The welfare of the people of Palermo is at stake. But one look at the beautiful woman Prima has become costs him his heart. She's a deadly distraction...one that jeopardizes her life as well as his own. 

Antonio ordered Prima thrown into the dungeon. In this scene, he goes down to release her from the rack where he had previously secured her wrists and ankles.
     “If you confess, you will find yourself free before nightfall.”
    “I have naught to confess.” She lifted her chin and met his gaze.
    “You attacked me. By what reason did you greet me with        unfriendly intentions?”
    “I thought you were a…thief, looking to prey on the innocent women weeping for their dead.”
    She glared up at him.
    “You had no other reason than to seek revenge on the Massaro and the Falcone. You thought I came, summoned to Palermo by one of those families, another man willing to join forces with powerful foes.”
    “Was it not I who you bade to confess? Alas, since you have spoken my truth, as I already did after you captured me, am I free to leave?”
    Antonio forced back a grin caused by her saucy remark. “Clever, piccola.” He pulled open the cuffs at her wrists anyway, ignoring the shock spanning her features. “They were never locked,” he admitted, watching her shock turn to seething hatred.
    She sat up, rubbing her wrists. He scooped her surcoat from the rushes and sat down beside her legs on the raised rack. When he took her hand in his, she snatched it away.
    “I mean only to tend your cuts,” he said.
    “I shall see to them myself.” Prima tugged her surcoat out of his hand. “The ankle cuffs?”
    Antonio glanced back at her wiggling feet, all the while aware that her eyes were on the leather tie holding his long hair in place. It was uncommon for a man of wealth and honor to wear his hair below his jaw; he didn’t care. He turned then and caught her staring. The ill-lit dungeon did not conceal the warm flush unfolding up her cheeks.
    “It appears we are in a small quandary. The ankle cuffs are locked, and I have not the key.” He rose to search the dungeon. He picked up an axe and curled his fingers around the leather  wrapped handle. From the corner of his eye he watched Prima as he raised the old weapon to his lips and blew the dust free. When he cleaved the table with the sharp blade, Prima gasped. “This should do, I think,” he said.
    “Wh-what are you about?” Her eyes widened as he raised the weapon high above his head. “What—? Dio!” She clasped her hands behind her neck and pulled her head between her knees. The chains jerked  her ankles and her legs slammed together, snapping against her ears. He knew of no easier way to rid her of the chains. One final blow freed her completely. She raised her head, rubbing her ears, and shook herself of the gypsy bells undoubtedly tinkling within. She touched her hair, felt her neck, and exhaled loudly.
    Astonished, Antonio asked, “Think you I would take your head?”
    She boldly met his gaze. “Sì.

Where can we find you and your books?

Jannine Corti Petska

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Yellowstone Deception

Another quick teaser from Yellowstone Deception. I'll probably announce a release date next week!

Dan had always been proud of his family’s history here in Yellowstone. The fantastical idea that none of his family tree would be around if not for the impossibility that a woman from this time had traveled to the past was still something he couldn’t quite wrap his head around. He’d long given up wondering where that time travel snakehead could have possibly come from. He didn’t want to know the answer. What he really did want to know, what he needed to know – where was that device now?
Dan ran a hand through his hair, and headed out the door. Jana Evans was his key to finding that device. She had to be. His entire future depended on it. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Top Ten Ways to Die in Yellowstone

Top Ten Ways to Die In Yellowstone

Boiling in a Hot Spring
People have fallen in, jumped in to rescue dogs or personal items, or thought it was safe to bathe in . Some of the springs reach temperatures in excess of 200 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Death by Bison
Gorings and stompings by bison occur often because people don’t heed the warnings to stay at least 25 yards away. These animals may look slow and docile, but a two ton bison can charge at 35 miles per hour. That’s faster than the average human can run.

Lightning Strikes
Most lightning strikes occur while out boating or hiking, and not having adequate cover when a storm hits.

Aside from car accidents and illnesses, drowning claims more lives than any other danger in Yellowstone. Several deaths have been reported as recently as 2007–2010. Swimmers who underestimate their abilities, boaters whose boats capsize, and hikers who fall into a lake or river account for most of the drownings.

Poison Plants 
Water hemlock looks a lot like an edible wild parsnip or carrot, but it's deadly poisenous. For both of the confirmed deaths, it was the last thing they ate. 

One fall involved a driver who backed his car off a cliff, killing both himself and his wife. Several workers have died after falling from scaffoldings or buildings. Others who have fallen to their deaths from cliffs have ignored warning signs and wandered from established trails. 

A number of people froze to death or died in avalanches in Yellowstone during its early years. Since 1921, however, such deaths have been very rare; three people died in two separate avalanches in the 1990s.

Rolling Rocks
Setting a boulder tumbling into a canyon might seem like innocent fun until you realize there are hikers down below. It's also illegal to toss rocks down a canyon. One person died this way, while several others were killed by rocks that were unintentionally dislodged or just happened to fall.

Falling Trees
Although rare, deaths from being hit by a tree have happened several times in Yellowstone, either during logging operations or windstorms.

Grizzly Mauling
The first documented death caused by a bear in Yellowstone happened in 1916; the latest two, in summer 2011, after a gap of 25 years when no bear-related deaths were recorded. Visitors have died while hiking, sleeping in tents, or getting too close to a bear while trying to snap that perfect picture.

This list was complied from one of my favorite books about Yellowstone. For more details about deaths in America's oldest national park, check out Death in Yellowstone - Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park
by park historian Lee Whittlesey.
In the introduction, the author states, “Play safely, and think before you act.”
Now go out and enjoy your national parks!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Yellowstone Deception

Dan drove back to Old Faithful in silence. Jana sat next to him, her hands balled up stiffly in her lap. Now why did he have to do a stupid thing and kiss her? The way Jana flung herself at him had surprised him beyond belief. For the last day and a half, she’d acted like a skittish deer in his presence. Her unexpected reaction to his return from the canyon floor stirred a deep longing within him, and only served to intensify his attraction to her.
He hadn’t been able to stop himself from taking advantage of the situation. Never before had he wanted to pursue a relationship with a girl the way he wanted to with Jana. Damned if he could explain it. He’d felt something strong and powerful tug at his insides the first time he saw her. It had drawn him to her like the proverbial moth to a flame, and the feeling only grew stronger by the hour, now that she was back. Now that he’d kissed her.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cover Design Contest

I'm at the point in Yellowstone Deception, where I need to think about a cover. In all my previous Yellowstone books, I have my characters, with a Yellowstone theme as the background. For books 1 and 2, I chose the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, namely the Lower Falls. For Book 1, I chose this background, because the model representing Daniel has a contemplative, almost sorrowful look. There's a scene in YHS, where Daniel is sitting gazing out at the Lower Falls, deep in thought about Aimee. 
For Yellowstone Redemption, I once again chose the Lower Falls, because the canyon and falls play a major role in the book.
For Yellowstone Awakening, I have a photo of Old Faithful, with a few other geysers in the background, and a locomotive at the bottom. All are significant symbols to the plot of that book. Likewise, for Yellowstone Dawn, I used a bison bathed in early morning fog. 

I have my character model photo for Yellowstone Deception, but I need a background picture. Here's what I have in mind, for anyone interested:

Tell me what symbolizes "Yellowstone" to you. What one thing - the geysers (a specific one?), hotsprings, a certain animal or landscape, or even a man-made structure. Anything goes for this cover. Leave a comment, and a way for me  to contact you. If you'd rather leave your contact info in a private email, email me at ynpdreamer at gmail dot com

If I choose your Yellowstone symbol, you will receive a free ebook of any one of the books in the Yellowstone Romance Series (your choice).
Entries will close on May 31st.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - excerpt from Yellowstone Heart Song

I've been very quiet on the blog this past week. I've had a long week at work, and I've been furiously writing Book 5 in the Yellowstone Romance Series, Yellowstone Deception. For this book, I've had to go back to book 1, Yellowstone Heart Song, several times to make sure I've got all my facts straight. In the back of my mind, I am also working out the details for the prequel novella I plan to write, which will go in depth into the origins of the time travel device I use in this series. 
For today's teaser, I thought I'd give my readers something different. A snippet from Yellowstone Heart Song, way back when I first started writing this book. The following passage is the very first thing I wrote when I started writing the book, and it was part of a prologue, which I ended up taking out of the book completely. It will find it's way back into the prequel. 
So, even if you've read all the books, this passage will be brand new to you. Forgive the raw writing. I like to think my writing skills have improved over the years.

January, 1786     Rocky Mountain Region, in what is today Yellowstone National Park

            The wind howled fiercely, and the snow fell so heavily that the visibility was almost zero, but Zaccharia made his way determinedly through the heavy snow. It was laborious walking, but the young trapper kept his head low, and slowly put one foot in front of the other. His job was  even more difficult, for he was dragging a freshly-killed deer behind him. He was determined to reach the shelter of his cabin before dark, not because of the weather, or the fact  that the scent of a fresh kill would most likely lure hungry predators. He needed to get back  to tend to his wife. The thought of her being by herself in this blizzard made him speed up the pace. 
Marie was not cut out for living in the wilderness as he had hoped when he brought  her here six months ago, and he had promised her he would return her to civilization as soon as the snow melted, and made passage possible to reach the Yellowstone River and a way to get back to St. Louis. He would not have gone out hunting either, but they were in need of meat, and she would need all her strength, what with the baby so near to being born. Had he know she was with child before the passes  closed due to snow, he would have taken her back right away.  Marie, dear sweet, loving Marie, had wanted nothing more that to please her husband, and had kept the pregnancy hidden for months. She’d been determined, however, to make him happy by following him into the wilderness. Zach soon realized that Marie was too frail to survive in this harsh and unforgiving land. Now her health and his unborn child were at risk because he had brought them here. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Yellowstone Deception

I'll be real brave today and post a few lines from my current WIP, Yellowstone Deception, which is Book 5 in the Yellowstone Romance Series. This is from the first draft, raw and unedited. 

“Maybe she left it somewhere along Hellroaring Creek, just like the journal,” Dan finally ventured a guess, breaking the silence.
“No,” Jana said immediately. “She wouldn’t leave it somewhere that obvious.” The plastic bag rustled as Jana dug through the nuts and seeds to find some morsels of dried fruit. She stopped abruptly, and looked at him. “Do you realize this is more impossible than trying to find a needle in a haystack?”
“What’s impossible?” He gestured at the bag in her hand. “Finding the raisins or the time travel device?” He grinned at the annoyed look she shot him. He inhaled deeply, staring straight at her, and sobered.
“You’re my only chance, Jana. You knew her the best, and if anyone can figure out what she might have done with that device, it’s you. I have complete confidence that you’ll figure it out.” Their eyes met and held, and Dan wished for the thousandth time that he could have asked her back to Montana under different circumstances.