Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Welcome, Ms. West. This is such a wonderful story, I can't help but wonder at what kind of personal experience you might have with autism. Would you mind sharing that with us?
I have high-functioning autism, so I guess you could say I have the most personal kind of experience with autism anyone could have. Writing The Key to Charlotte gave me the opportunity to share an inside look at autism from the perspective of an autistic. Because of being on the autism spectrum myself, I was able to draw on my own experiences and the way I perceive the world to make Charlotte more realistic.
I don't do spoilers, but there's a scene in your story where someone is trying to help Charlotte calm down, to back off from the sensory overload of the noises and odors at a gathering of a lot of people. Is this typical of people with autism at most levels? And if so, is this one of the things that a doctor of some sort usually helps them to learn coping mechanisms for? or is it usually learned at a more personal level?
Sensory overload is a fairly common occurrence among people on the autism spectrum. Essentially, autism affects the way people filter sensory input. Most people can filter out the unimportant information in a given situation and let in only what is important. For autistics, those filters tend to be reduced or nonexistent, which means they may take in all of the information instead of just some of it. Gatherings of any kind can be a very overwhelming experience, but how overwhelming it is depends on the individual. There are therapies available to help with sensory integration, but most of the coping mechanisms are learned through life experience.
I realize that there are many different levels of autism, but the mention of how touch bothers her...how extreme or common is that?
Sensitivity to touch is a fairly common sensory integration issue among autistics of all functioning levels. Some may feel severe pain from a light touch, others may feel extremely uncomfortable with something as simple as a handshake, and still others may have no issue with touch at all. As with everything else concerning the autism spectrum, sensitivity to touch and other sensory input varies by the individual. What one may find unbearable, another may have no problem with or even enjoy. For a more detailed description of what sensory integration issues can feel like, I wrote an article on the topic for KnowABit.com (http://knowabit.com/2010/12/
Wow. This is why I love to read. It doesn't matter what genre I'm reading, I can learn something from almost any story. Thank you for sharing so much with us! Now let's share some of the book with them!
Charlotte Harris can't speak due to a quirk in her autistic brain, but that doesn't stop her from communicating with others. Unfortunately, it prevents her from achieving two of her dreams--to praise God through singing and to carry on a simple conversation with her own voice.Zakaria Rush is the new Director of Children's Ministries at Charlotte's church, and he can't keep his thoughts off the partially mute blonde with a love for guitar music. Her innocence and love of the simple things in life intrigue him and make him long to give her what she wants more than anything: her voice.
Can Zakaria help Charlotte find the key to unlocking her ability to speak, or will his attempt to help her only lock away their chance for love?
Charlotte switched off the vacuum and breathed a sigh of relief. The silence in the small church was pure bliss. She pulled the plug from the wall and coiled the cord around the top of the vacuum, then returned it to the janitorial closet in the basement. Turning around, she pulled out her cell phone and checked for reminders.
Take the rag bucket home.Yes, she needed to wash the rags and kitchen towels. She returned the phone to her pocket and grabbed the bucket handle. As she headed upstairs, she heard the sound of a guitar coming from the sanctuary. Was someone playing a CD? It sounded like live music, but she’d never heard anyone in the church play a guitar.
Drawn by the soothing strains of the strings, she turned right at the top of the stairs.
No one ever came in the church while she was cleaning. The entire congregation knew her schedule—Tuesday and Saturday afternoons—and they always made sure to come at a different time. Charlotte had never been sure if it was because they didn’t want to get in her way or if her parents had talked to them about the importance of routine for her. When she was little, she’d gotten upset by people showing up unannounced, but now that she was twenty‐three, she liked to think she could handle surprises a little better.She peered through the open doorway and saw a man sitting on the edge of the platform by the plain wooden altar playing a battered acoustic guitar.
Her breath caught in her throat and her heart raced as she studied him. Not only was he a talented musician, he was gorgeous, more gorgeous than anyone she’d ever seen in this small Indiana town. His black hair was a little shaggy but stylish; his straight nose, high cheekbones, and tan complexion made her think of Native Americans and Italians; his lean build clothed in faded blue jeans, an olive green T‐shirt, and worn‐in sneakers made him look laid back. Peace filled his face as he strummed his guitar. The corners of his mouth turned up slightly, making Charlotte wonder if the sound of a guitar brought him as much joy as it did her.
Suddenly, he stopped playing and looked up at her. She tightened her grasp on the bucket handle.
He studied her with the most beautiful, warm brown eyes she’d ever seen. His smile caused her heart to flutter. “Hi there. Are you Charlotte?”
He didn’t seem to mind that she shifted her weight back and forth. Just as well. If she didn’t rock to release it, the nervous energy building under his gaze would make her cry.
“Pastor Ed told me I might run into you if I came this afternoon. I’m Zakaria Rush, the new director of children’s ministries.” He laid his guitar across his knees and chuckled, a deep, rich sound that warmed Charlotte clear through. “It’s a fancy title for a guy who didn’t want to grow up and found a way to turn it into a career.”
5 star Review
What a wonderful story! With just a glimpse into the heart and mind of someone who has to deal with the world a little differently, I felt like Ms. West shared a piece of God's love through her story. The pure emotion shared by Charlotte and Zak was like a cleansing rain on a hot summer day. She helped me see the world through the eyes of a truly innocent heart. What a glorious vision that is!
Well done, Ms. West! I loved it!
To celebrate the release of The Key to Charlotte, Ms. West is giving a copy to two lucky commenters on this blog tour. The rules are simple. Between October 28 and November 6, leave a comment on any of my blog tour stops (including this post) with your name and email address letting me know you want to be entered into the drawing. You can find a complete list of the blog tour stops on my blog http://thewestcorner.
Monday, October 24, 2011
When wildlife photographer Savannah Matthews takes an unexpected detour off of Belize's scenic coast and becomes stranded on a lush, tropical island, she senses she's about to encounter something wild and dangerous--something from a long ago, forgotten past.
What she does find, will change her life forever.
Scarred both physically and emotionally, Grant Duncan guards his privacy. Those who dare set foot on his private island come face-to-face with his fierce determination, and long-handled spear. But, when Savannah arrives, she challenges him like no other.
Will Savannah break through Grant's barriers, and convince him God still has a plan for his life?
Lord, I don’t want to die out here. Help?
God had never left her before. Surely, he wouldn’t abandon her now. Savannah waited, holding her breath, looking, listening for a sign the Almighty had some kind of plan to get her out of this mess she’d gotten herself into. But, the sea didn’t part. No clap of thunder came from above. The gentle breeze continued to whisper across the open water as the current sucked her boat toward oblivion.
Helpless, she set down the oar and raised her hands. “OK, Lord. I don’t know what Your plans are for me, but I trust You.”
The breeze suddenly shifted, turning into a stronger wind, and the boat changed direction.
Savannah’s hopes rose. After all, who else but God can command the weather into obedience? She looked around, anxious to see what He had in mind. Before long, a small island appeared in the distance. It wasn’t her original destination, but she didn’t care. She wanted her feet on solid ground again.
“Thank you, Father.”
5 Star Review
This is definitely a MUST READ. I absolutely loved it from start to finish (although I wish there was a lot more between those two points).
If you're looking for a vacation in the tropics, but you just can't get there - read this book! The descriptions are phenomenal. It's as if you're there, seeing it with your own eyes. Ms. Davy has a wonderful way of painting a moving picture with words.
For an inspirational (and yes, it VERY definitely is inspirational), the emotion between the characters flies off the pages! Your heart flutters along with Savannah's from a simple touch of Grant's fingers. From fear, to guilt, to empathy, you feel everything right along with them.
This is a classic retelling of Beauty and the Beast - and very well done! What a powerful little story with the wonderful message of God's grace!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
"Who's asking?" Gunnar stepped through the door, holding it open for Tessa. "Be nice," she said as she jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow then held her hand out to me. "Don't mind him. His manners will kick in...eventually."
"Do I need to call Dominic in to act as a buffer?" I ask with a laugh.
"Some buffer. Sticks his nose in all kinds of places it doesn't belong."
"Be nice! That's my brother the cop, your best friend, that you're talking about."
"Yeah, your brother that brought some stray guy into the house and left you alone with him. I ought to rearrange his nose for that. What the heck was he thinking?"
"Um, yeah well, it just so happens you were that guy so-"
Uhem...so is that how you met?
“Yes,” Tessa smiled up at her husband. “God orchestrated it all from the beginning, even before we met.”
Gunnar gave a soft grunt. “He has a way of getting me to do things His way. I like to think I would’ve won her over anyway.”
Tessa giggled, looking at him with such unabashed love I felt like an intruder.
What did you think of his motorcycle when he first drove up, Tessa?
Tessa’s face scrunched up. “Horrible. I mean it was impressive and genius!” she said with a quick boost to Gunnar’s pride. “But SO LOUD.”
And what about Gunnar himself? Were you ever afraid of him?
Gunnar’s face was troubled as he glanced down at his wife.
“Honestly…yes. But it wasn’t long before I saw him for what he was, a warm, loving man with the heart of an angel.”
Gunnar was obviously troubled by the question, so I thought of something quick to let him off the hook.
Were you attracted to each other right from the start?
“Yes.” they answered in unison.
“But I didn’t want to be,” Tessa said.
“Me either, we were too different. And there were too many complications.”
“My brother, for one. He told me not to get involved with him,” she said, hitching a thumb at Gunnar.
Gunnar slipped his hands around Tessa’s waist in what may have been a subconscious act of possession.
“But she came to her senses”
Her snort and chuckle was hidden behind her hand...barely.
And how did your faith fit into all this?
“Our faith is everything,” Tessa said. “It brought us through the worst times and sustains us every day.”
“Without Tessa’s faith I wouldn’t be here right now. God stepped in again.” This time Gunnar smiled. “He knew exactly what I needed. What I need,” he finished, resting his chin on top of Tessa’s head.Excerpt:
“Can’t You tell me who I’m praying for, Lord?” she asked. “Is it someone I know?”
Some moments later Tessa felt directed to turn to a specific though unfamiliar verse in the twenty-seventh chapter of Job. She ran a finger down the fine paper of the page, stopping at verse nine. “Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?” she read aloud. From there she turned to a verse she’d read the day prior in Psalm thirty-four. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”
She knew before asking, “He won’t cry out for himself, will he?”
So it fell to her to be his voice. But try as she might, she couldn’t think of what to say.
It didn’t take long to see the problem. She was trying to use her reasoning to grasp the situation and as a result grew more confused. Confusion was not of God.
She commanded the devil to stop messing with her thoughts, then began to pray in earnest for blessings, health, and protection on the man’s behalf.
Strength to withstand.
The words came unexpectedly, an urgent impression on her mind. At last she had a bearing.
5 star Review:
This story is well written, with well developed characters that lead with their hearts. Great read!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
A royal drumroll please! Today we have Clare Revell here with us to tell us all about the royal wedding...well, not THE Royal Wedding, but the royal wedding in her story.
Steeplechase jockey Cassie Hinton's dream was to walk down the aisle in her medieval wedding gown to become Mrs. Jack Chambers. Injured in the Grand National, she returns home...only to find Jack is now the Pastor of her parent's church. Jack Chambers, now a widower and single parent, still has feelings for Cassie, but she sees him as nothing more than a Pastor. Even if he could change her mind, there is still his position to consider. With the Royal Wedding fast approaching, Cassie makes her dress, little dreaming of the consequences of doing so.
So Clare, did you get to see any of THE Royal Wedding? other than on the tele- like the rest of us?
I had the advantage of watching it at a civilised hour, lol. We all went over to my parents and decorated their front room with balloons and Union flag bunting (it's only a Union Jack when flown on a ship). We sat and watched the wedding - picking holes in the fact they didn't say the legal bits they had too. Well with two registrars in the family they weren't getting away with anything lol.. After the service we had our own wedding reception. A huge 'high tea' with wedding cake - again with a Union Flag on.
How long did it take you to write this story?
The first draft was done in three weeks. The rewrite took about the same length of time. Cassie and Jack actually took over completely, tossed my plan out of the window - Jack in particular was notorious for that. Shocking behaviour for a pastor.
There was a fair amount of detail in the press in the run up to the wedding. The secrecy over the dress, where they were going to visit beforehand (royal visits always get masses of TV coverage). The first royal wedding I ever watched was Princess Anne way back in the 1970's and haven't missed one since. The dress designer always gets a mention and the dress is copied and usually in the shops the following day with people working through the wedding itself to get it done!
Yes, I was at first. I initially submitted the story back in December 2010. I was asked to rewrite and resubmit in Feb which I did, and sent it back in March. However, my editor was right and the finished story is so much better than the initial version. And she liked it enough to offer me a contract. So it’s turned out okay in the end. :)
Sure. Here you go :)
“Everyone else has photos of the royal couple and ribbons, silver bells, hearts and balloons. I wanted something more sophisticated but this…” she gestured at the window, “…isn’t it.”
“Maybe tie it in with what Danny sells. After all, the bakers did a wedding cake and the printers did invitations.”
Cassie nodded, her mind whirling. “Yeah…thank you.”
Jack glanced at his watch. “I’d best be off and get Lara from school. She complains if I’m late. I hope you find a solution to your problem.”
“Thank you. Bye.” Cassie smiled and turned back to her display, watching Jack’s reflection in the glass as he walked away. He’d always been a Godly man, even as a teenager, and despite everything that happened he kept his faith—unlike her. Her life and her faith lay in ruins.
She used to hope he’d ask her out one day, but it never happened. And now it never would. She was down and out before anything even got started.
He was a pastor, and she was his parishioner. A fallen- without- hope- of- redemption parishioner, at that. Strike one.
He was a widower with a small daughter. Strike two.
Where faith and romance meet
Season For Miracles
Cassie's Wedding Dress
4 1/2 royal crowns!!!
I was lucky enough to read an advaced copy of this one - oh my! Not only will you get caught up in Cassie's distorted view of herself, but you will fall in love with Pastor Jack and Lara, his sweet little girl! Matter of fact, you are going to fall in love with this whole cast of characters. All I can say is, Enjoy!
Want to win a copy of Cassie's Wedding Dress? Leave a comment along with your email address and you'll be entered. That easy! Claire will pick a winner from the comments accumulated on her blog tour. Good luck!
Friday, October 7, 2011
Seems I'm hearing a lot about you lately! As a matter of fact, as I put together this little visit, I realized I've actually read quite a few of your books (all White Roses I must admit). Daniella (just featured ), Teacher's Plans, By the Book, and Smuggler of the Heart to name a few. And I loved them all!
I started later than most authors I know. I was twenty-six before I fell in love with writing. Whenever I think about it, it reminds me that life is a journey, and you never know what's around the next bend.
Well, that's not too bad! I think I was thirty before I penned my first.
LOL Smart man!
LOL Sometimes...then again, sometimes I'm too chicken to try.
Abigail Madison, a gentle quiet spirit, has always dreamed of a life away from her mother’s controlling ways. Even more than that, she’s dreamed of finding someone with whom she could share her life with. However, her shyness is often taken as aloofness and no marital prospects were anywhere to be found. What was to become of her hopes?
I'm working on the third book now. It's called Shifting Sands. It will be released September 15, 2012.
Sounds wonderful! I'm so glad you could stop by and chat.
My pleasure, JoAnn! Can we take a peek at the current one!
Of course! Here you go:
ELLIE DUNKLING’S life long dream has been to work on one of Lake Champlain’s steamboat, the Ticonderoga. There’s only one problem. Men, not women, are hired to work on ships. Ellie, however is determined to change that. After all, it is 1923 and far from the dark-ages.
Captain PHILIP LAWHORN is a man’s man. When Champlain Transportation Inc. informs him a woman has been hired to work on his ship as stewardess, he’s anything but pleased. First, he doesn’t appreciate the fact someone’s hired on his twenty-eight-member crew without his knowledge. Secondly, how is he supposed to handle this company mandated—sure to be—disaster?
Punctual to the second, Ellie watched the captain in fascination. He removed his cap and
jammed his fingers through his hair, which was as black as the boat's hull. A frown marred his otherwise handsome face as he strode toward her. He cut an imposing figure. No doubt about it, her self-confidence and years of being at the top of her class at the University of Vermont was to be put to the first real test.
He barked, "Are you one of those women who gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants?"
Her pulse leaped, but she determined not to let any jitters show. "Pardon me?"
The captain shoved his cap back on and shook his head. "I can't believe this is happening to me."
His cool gaze made Ellie blink.
"I hate the politics behind this whole thing. All I can say is, you must know Mr. Trembley very well."
Ellie stood as tall as her five-foot-two stature allowed. Oh, why did he still need to tower over her? She called on every ounce of will power she had and pasted on what she hoped resembled a smile. "Captain, it's not my intention to bother you. I'd like to work for you."
He snorted, spread his feet shoulder length apart, and put his hands on his hips.
It seemed the captain wanted to stir up another World War -- and with her no less. Without stopping to think of the consequences, she quipped, "Sir, the war ended on Nov 11, 1918."
This sounds so cool! I must admit I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I definitely will be!