Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday with the Writers: Reality TV, Life, Love, and Childhood Sweethearts by Zanna Mackenzie

Reality TV comes in all shapes, sizes and types, from the sensationalist attention grabbing headline variety to the ones with a genuine self-help ethic.
It was this which sparked the idea behind my contemporary romance novel The Love Programme.
The Love Programme by Zanna MacKenzieWhat if someone who had never had the opportunity to date much, fall in love and discover all about themselves in the process ended up as part of a reality TV series about finding love…
In the novel Lucy has to get away from her home town for a while thanks to her ex-boyfriend and former childhood sweetheart Marcus abandoning Amelie, his bride to be, at the altar. The reason he walks out on his wedding? He says he’s still in love with Lucy, even after all this time!
Lucy feels stifled by Marcus and his reluctance to accept they don’t have a future together so she jumps at the chance to be a last minute replacement on a TV series called The Love Programme. Two weeks of luxury living on a grand country estate in the Highlands of Scotland – complete with castle and handsome laird – and the chance for some expert help and advice from the programme’s love psychologist Zelda. Maybe this will give Lucy the chance to finally discover who she is and what she wants from life, men and relationships.
In the book the reality TV series The Love Programme is based on contestants having one to one advice sessions with the TV psychologist and then going on tailor made dates with the programme’s ‘love interest’ Isaac. All designed to help each person learn about their dating likes and dislikes and get a picture of the right kind of man and relationship to suit them in the future.
This is Lucy’s chance to, for once, just be herself and not who Marcus, or anyone else for that matter, wants her to be. Unfortunately things are not as straight forward as Lucy hoped when she fails miserably at her first task – to complete a detailed profile questionnaire for Zelda the psychologist! Lucy simply doesn’t know the answers to all those thought provoking and soul searching questions!
The handsome laid and estate owner Paul – definitely not part of The Love Programme course and firmly off the agenda, or so the contestants are told – provides something of a welcome if confusing distraction for Lucy. He’s charming, friendly and good company but who is the mysterious Hannah who keeps being mentioned?
Working with Zelda and her programme date Isaac, Lucy starts trying to figure out her feelings about life, love and relationships but then she hears Marcus isn’t giving up just yet and is on his way to Scotland to find her and convince her to give him another chance.
It seems The Love Programme has its work cut out if it’s going to sort out Lucy’s life…
The Love Programme by Zanna Mackenzie is available in paperback and ebook formats via Amazon:
Lucy’s life is a mess. With her ex pursuing her across the country, she flees to Scotland and finds herself part of a reality TV show about love… will she find some answers or end up even more confused in matters of the heart?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

New Releases: "Acting", "Dream" and "Bet"

Hi guys.

We have some really cool books for you this week: a sweet novella, a YA, and a sequel to the bestselling 'Marry Me'.

Which book strikes your fancy? Leave a comment below.


Photo: When reigning Screen Queen Addison's husband left her for their on air "daughter", she must find a way to move on.
Addison Covington is the reigning Ice Queen of television. Until her producer husband falls in love with her on-screen daughter and a well-placed punch on national television casts her as the wicked ex-wife. Fired and disgraced, she escapes to Covington Falls, the idyllic Southern town where she found comfort in a time of turmoil as a teenager.

Life is constantly on the brink of chaos for widower Ethan Thomas. Being a single father is one challenge. As a high school principal he also has to deal with hundreds of students and their interfering parents. Now, he’s short one drama teacher and if he doesn’t find a replacement to direct the spring musical he’s going to have a riot on his hands. His childhood neighbor, Addison Covington, could be an answer to prayer. Or one more complication he can’t afford.

Before Addison can say “Casting Call” she's drafted to direct the high school musical. Soon she’d dealing with some off-key caterwauling, a bitter stepson showing up on her doorstep, and the boy-next-door turned sexiest high school principal she's ever met. One thing Addison and Ethan agree on is that there’s no room in their lives for romance. He’s got too much at stake, and she needs to reclaim her former glory in Hollywood. In the end, these two lost souls will choreograph a happy ending with the help of Grace, Love and a Curtain Call.
Photo: 17-old dreamwalker, Em, has to choose—leave her mother forever in the dreamworld or save the life of hot, rebel Gabe.
Seventeen-year-old dreamwalker, Em, might have to choose—leave her mother forever in the dreamworld or save the life of hot, rebel Gabe.

Emily Dal Monte and her mother, Lily, are special. They’re humans with a special glitch in their genetic code that allows them to explore the fantastic, and often terrifying, world of their dreams for as long as they choose to remain asleep. But when Em’s father is killed in a tragic accident and her distraught mother loses herself more and more in the dreams of her crumbling mind, Em is forced to support the two of them the only way she knows how, by writing down her mother’s amazing dreams and selling them as books. Enter Gabriel Sobel, the punk newcomer at Em’s high school who realizes Em is the daughter of his favorite, reclusive author. Gabe can’t figure out why Em keeps brushing him off and makes it his mission to find out what’s really going on at the Dal Monte household. He stumbles upon their shocking family secret just as Lily takes a turn for the worse. It’s up to Em, Gabe, and one very nosy book editor to hop from one extraordinary dream to the next, to find Lily and convince her to wake up before she loses her mind…and before Em loses her first chance at love.
Photo: She only bet to save her place in line, but he wagered himself into her heart. Coming tomorrow by J. L. Salter (author of A New Guy in Town)
Chloe Watson wants to keep her place in line for the Electronics Super Sale, but really needs a restroom break. Will that handsome jogger be willing to stand still for fifteen minutes… for a $10 fee?

 Brett Hardy agrees, but bets it will take her much longer to return — if Chloe wins, she owes him nothing… but if Brett wins, she has to accept his invitation to dinner. How long could the lines be at the ladies room?

 Chloe’s best friend thinks she’s crazy to agree to dine with a stranger – on a wager – and imagines only worst case scenarios.

 It turns out Brett has even more surprises up his sleeve — and if a bet won’t work, maybe a bribe will.

 Perhaps Chloe can be tricked by wagers and bribes, but she can’t understand why Brett resorts to gimmicks instead of just asking her out.

 Of course, if he did ask, she’d probably have to say no


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Interview with Cahri and Prince Josiah from Once Choice-- Wednesday with the Writers

Today on Wednesday with the Writers, we are very excited to have Cahri and Prince Josiah from One Choice here today! Their story is told by Ginger Solomon... let's see if they are happy about how she portrayed it...


Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

Cahri: Never. I’m a boring missionary kid who decided to stay in the country where my parents served and died. I went to work, and came home to Stormy, my cat. Nothing in my life was book worthy. Even when the Bridal March began, I stayed well away from the limelight. I’d rather watch than be watched; consequently I’d rather read, than be read about.


What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?

Cahri (blushing): The romance. I want to forget some of the action, but I don’t think I will, ever. (she sobers then brightens) The romance, on the other hand, keeps me going. I’m a practical woman, but I enjoy a dance in the moonlight, or flowers for no reason at all. A few kisses from my love makes me forget all the bad things in the world.


Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

Prince Josiah: Actually, there is at least one scene I wish she hadn’t written. I acted like a fool, and she had to go and put it out there for everyone to see. Maybe someone out there reading our story will learn from my mistakes. Maybe someone will learn not to jump to conclusions or assume that what seems to be happening is the truth. There’s this new show on TV in the US that talks about how easily our brains can be fooled by focusing on one thing and not seeing the whole picture. Since Ginger so brazenly put my foolishness before the world, I at least want God to use it to help someone else.


What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

Cahri: The same things I did when Ginger was stalking us as she wrote our story. I spend a great deal of time in the garden. I just love the garden. Sometimes Prince Josiah and I will go for a ride. Now that I have more responsibilities in the palace, I spend a lot of time in the office that Josiah and I share. Cook has even allowed me to invade her domain once in a while, as long as I don’t try to clean up after myself — which drives me crazy. I made the mess, why shouldn’t I clean it up? Oh, sorry, went a little off the question there. When it’s nice out, I’ll go swimming with Stormy. I’ll splash him, then he’ll climb out of the pool, acting all indignant like any cat. Next thing I know he’s jumping in right next to me, splashing me. He meows. I think it’s his kitty laugh. Sometimes Prince Josiah will join us, but Stormy doesn’t like him to come much, I don’t think. I get a bit distracted (she blushes, again), and don’t focus on him as much. He’s a very jealous pet.


Do you like the way the book ended?

Prince Josiah: Well, one of Ginger’s friends commented that the romance at the end should have been drawn out a bit more, but I appreciated the privacy. After all, it was our wedding night and I really didn’t want any more interruptions.


Would you be interested in a sequel, if your writer was so inclined?

Cahri and Prince Josiah: Not for us. We think Anaya deserves her own book. Matthias too. But they’ve refused to share their stories with Ginger for the moment. We’ll keep working on them, though. Maybe one day.
You can read all about Cahri and Prince Josiah in One Choice... Available now wherever ebooks are sold :)
One Choice by Ginger Solomon

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Traditions with Our Authors

Happy Easter from all of us at Astraea Press. We wanted to share with you some of our fondest Easter memories and traditions. Please share yours in the comments.


     Since she was a little girl, Nicole Zoltack loves getting dressed in a colorful dress as soon as she wakes up on Easter morning.

On Easter afternoon, Maria Green likes to search for eggs with her cousins... Still!

Ashley Stambaugh loves to see how excited both of her boys get when they find the Easter eggs that are hidden around the back yard!

With a family big on getting together, Moira Keith looks forward to Easter morning brunch with her family and neighbors.

Every Easter J F Jenkins has an egg hunting competition with her family. Her brother always wins.

Liz Botts loves to watch her kids play with their cousins on Easter afternoon.

When Mya O'Malley was a little girl, she would wake up to an Easter egg hunt . Her Easter basket would be filled with stuffed animals , jellybeans and a chocolate bunny. Her grandmother would always make a coconut cake in the shape of a lamb:) Happy Easter!

Christi Corbett loves to watch her twins hunt for eggs in the yard on Easter morning. After the eggs have all been accounted for so the dog doesn't find any unexpected treats, her family attends church.

Shea McIntosh Ford hunted Easter eggs when she was well past the age of the Easter bunny, because her uncle had such a great time hiding them in camouflaged places. She and her sister had fun times staring in the places he said they were, but not quite seeing them.

J.L. Salter: I remember as a kid sitting around the kitchen table dyeing hardboiled eggs. There was a strong smell of vinegar in the room --- it was used to dissolve the dye tablets. The process involved boiling water, as I recall, so we weren't allowed to splash any. The table was covered with newspaper pages. I'd always watch my older brother, who would patiently 'cure' his eggs and achieve the most beautiful deep solid colors. My own patience was limited, so I wanted instant gratification... consequently, most of my dye jobs were thin and streaky.

Stephanie Michels remembers when her first grandchildren were small and the "Easter Bunny" came for a surprise in person visit with them! One 3-year old was so excited, he jumped over the arm of the couch to give the bunny a hug.

MicheleBarrow-Belisle still enjoys dying and decorating Easter eggs with her son, to share with family during Easter dinner. :D

On Easter, Brenda Maxfield delights in going to church with the whole family and then playing Easter Bunny for her three amazing grandkids!

Kelly Martin enjoys watching her kids play with their Easter Bunny presents, go to the Early Service at church and spend time with her family.

J. Andersen loved hiding eggs for the Easter egg hunt, and watching her kids hike through the creek to find them. Then she and her family decorate eggs with the extended family, On Sunday, they attend the sunrise service at 6 am, followed by church and a huge family dinner.

Kathy Bosman:  I love the tradition we have for Easter but I think my kids may be close to growing out of it. I usually write up clues and hide them for a treasure hunt and they look all over our garden and in our house for clues or chocolate eggs.
*~*~What is your favorite Easter Tradition? Leave us a comment~*~*