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I write suspense and light fantasy/paranormal set in the beautiful country of New Zealand. A land of myths and magic, Aotearoa (Maori for Long White Cloud) has always been a storytelling nation and it is my pleasure to share mine with you.

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Heartpounding suspense and fantasy Downunder

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sara Walter Ellwood - Blog Tour

Hi Folks! Its so nice to see you here again :) I've got another wonderful writer lined up for you to meet. Please welcome Sara Walter Ellwood. How cool is that name? Sara is offering a wonderful prize pack during her book tour for her new book, Gambling on a Secret, that includes custom made jewelry, e-books, swag pack and more. Click on the image at the bottom of the post to find out more!

Thank you so much for having me here today!

It's my absolute pleasure, Sara! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
To be different and to relate something that isn’t in my bio, I’m going to relate five facts no one might not know about me:
1 .   I can’t watch my hands while typing. When I do, I get lost and lose speed.
2.     My newest hobby is making jewelry. It’s something my daughter and I have really gotten into. Our plan is to make enough to do some craft shows this summer. So now I’m collecting beads and stealing writing time to design necklaces. But hey, I do some story planning then. So, all’s good, right?
3.      My favorite dessert is cheesecake, but I prefer pie over plain old cake. Maybe that’s why I love Boston cream pie too—it’s a cake and a pie...LOL
4.      When I was a kid, I wanted to be a country singer, but my third grade music teacher trampled that dream to dust when she refused to let me in the chorus because, as she put it, I couldn’t hold a tune in a bucket.
5.      I’ve never sent a text message. Lame, I know.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In eleventh grade when I wrote my first novel. A massive hand-written romance set during the Civil War.

Do you remember what inspired you to write your first book?
I can’t even remember what inspired the book I wrote in eleventh grade. It was probably a product of my love affair at the time with John Jakes’ North and South Series and Gone with the Wind. But what inspired my first published book, A Hunter’s Angel (published under my pen name Cera duBois), was a line out of the Twilight series.

I love call stories. Can you tell us about yours and your reaction?
Since my call story for my first book is pretty uninspiring—I screamed, I danced around the room, and my husband and kids thought they had to call in professional help. I know; what’s different about that? Most writers feel the same way when they get that magical email (who actually gets a phone call these days anyway?).
But my call story for Gambling On A Secret is totally unique. It was total, unadulterated shock. I stared at the computer and just couldn’t believe my luck, which inspired an entire blog article itself. First—I was actually talked into posting on a blog during a pitch session with Piper Denna (executive editor of Lyrical Press) by my dear friend and awesome critique partner D’Ann Lindun. I posted mainly to appease D’Ann and really didn’t expect anything to come from it. Second—I took all but 1 minute to post the pitch (basically, I copy/pasted a pitch line I’d created in a class). Third—Piper is the first and only editor to ever read Gambling On A Secret.
Oh, then I started screaming, dancing around the house and laughing until I cried. My poor husband dug out the number for psychological intervention again. He really thought I was bound for a straight jacket this time.

Love it! :) What drew you to write your chosen genre?
I really have no idea. I think the genre chose me. My first Western—Heartstrings, which will be released in April—has a country music mega star as a hero. It just seemed natural that he’d be from Texas. As I built the story around him, I found myself writing a Western. I had to research EVERYTHING. I’d read a few contemporary Westerns before then and I love old Western movies, but up until then, I never considered writing in the genre. Just as when a pet chooses you and becomes your best friend, I love everything about contemporary Westerns. However, I’m not really surprised that I completely embraced the genre. I grew up on a farm, and I realized in my old age (well, I don’t consider myself all that old, but my kids have a way of making me feel old), how much I loved living on a farm. I miss it. Writing about ranching (though totally different from the way we farm in Pennsylvania) has become my way of living out my dream of having a farm again.

What’s the most challenging part of the writing process for you?
Writing the first draft. I sometimes find it almost painful, in fact. Not root canal painful, but close. Just shows I must be a bit sadistic to continue doing this to myself.

I'm with you all the way on that one! Which one of your books is your ‘baby’ and why?
Them all!  But if you’re asking which one I’d consider the book of my heart, it’s Gambling On A Secret. I simply love the characters, the world that I’ve created and the story. Charli and Dylan are so broken in the beginning, but as they rebuild her ranch, they rebuild themselves.

What are you working on right now?
Book 3 of The Colton GamblersGambling On A Dream. Which has me rethinking which is more painful - that root canal or drafting. Dawn and Wyatt are really fighting me right now. I’m also working on a project with the working title A Family for Jesse. I’m hoping to submit this story to another publisher and/or agents. It’s also has a country music hero, a JR Ewing-like villain and is a romantic suspense.

Latest news?
Lots!  The Wild Rose Press released A Hunter’s Blade (published under my pen name Cera duBois) everywhere on January 2. It previously was only available on Amazon. On April 1, Lyrical Press will release my second contemporary Western, Heartstrings. Gambling On A Heart (book 2 of The Colton Gamblers) is set for tentative release in September.

Where can we find you and your books?
Buy Links:

Author links:

Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.

Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.

When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?

CONTENT WARNING: Details abuse of a minor, drug abuse, alcoholism, swearing, spicy sex, murder.

COVER QUOTE: “Full of intrigue, tangled pasts, and raw emotions, this one is guaranteed to keep you turning pages from start to finish and then wishing for one more chapter!”
Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Just a Cowboy and His Baby.
Ms. Brown also named Gambling On A Secret as one of her favorite romance reads in 2012 in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today.

“Ferguson, what are you doing here?” Dylan barked.

Leon ambled toward them on the stone path. “I’m saving a young maiden from torment. What are you doing here, playing the part of the devil?”

“I’m Miss Monroe’s new manager.” The deadly edge of his voice matched the flintiness of his eyes. “If there’s anyone to save the young maiden from, it’s you.”

“Mr. Quinn, please.” She turned to Leon. “Leon, is there something I can do for you?”

He smiled, showing off perfect white teeth in a face handsome enough to belong to an actor. “I was just passing by on my way home and decided to stop. How are the boys working out?”

Dylan’s stance widened and his hands flexed at his slides. “What boys?”

“Charli and I have entered into a business arrangement.”

She lost the battle with the urge to wrap her arms around herself. As much as she appreciated Leon’s kindness, respected him, and was even a little attracted to him, something about him didn’t sit right with her. He represented her peers in the community. According to Mrs. Pratt, besides the Cartwrights, she and Leon were undoubtedly the wealthiest residents in the county. No one in Colton could learn about her past. It would ruin her, and Leon, no doubt, had the means to dig up the dirt.

“Really?” Dylan stepped closer to her in a protective manner. Whiskey tainted his breath as the warmth of the exhalations tickled her cheek. “What kind of business arrangement?”

She could protect herself. Dylan Quinn wasn’t any safer than Leon Ferguson. Stepping away from him, she forced her arms to her sides. “Mr. Quinn, I can handle this.”

She faced Leon. “I’m amazed by how much the men got done since starting on Monday. The foreman told me last evening they’d be reseeding another fifty acres for hay this morning. And they have the corrals fixed and started on the fencing in the north pasture.”

“Good, good.” He glanced at Dylan. “I’ll be going, unless you need a more reliable exterminator. I couldn’t help but overhear about your snake infestation. I can give you the name of the company that has gotten rid of the snakes in our lakes over on Oak Springs for years.”

Although he presented the perfect solution, she didn’t the like way Leon had looked at Dylan as he said the word exterminator. “No, Mr. Quinn is quite capable of getting rid of the snake.”

“Oh, I’m sure he is.” Leon tipped his hat. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you, Charli.” Dylan’s jaw tightened as his uncle glanced at him. “It’s good to see you up among the living again.”

Leon headed back to his Porsche. With no pretense of lowering his voice, Dylan said, “Now, there’s a snake no one wants in their garden.”

Upon hearing the jibe, Leon’s shoulders jerked in mid-stride.

Rattled by Leon’s attention and the snake fiasco, she turned on Dylan. “You aren’t off the hook. I want those snakes gone.”

“We’ll see.”

“I hate snakes.” She shuddered and put her hands on her hips. “Maybe I should have asked him who the exterminator is.”

Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.

She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.

~One poster from every stop will win a Gambling On A Secret ebook
~One commenter from each stop will win a piece of custom jewelry.
(The winners of these two prizes will be announced the day after the tour stop.)

I also have 2 Grand Prizes!

~First Grand Prize is a SWAG PACK, including a signed copy of Carolyn Brown’s Just a Cowboy and His Baby. Also included is a copy of D’Ann Lindun’s Shot Through the Heart, a pen, a notebook, a horse themed mini calendar, a patriotic themed day planner, and more all tucked away in a reusable tote bag at the end of my blog tour.

~Second Grand Prize is a $10 Gift Card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you follow the tour and comment as often as possible, you increase your chances of winning!
(The winners of the Swag Pack and Gift Card will be announced on March 1, 2013.)
(Swag Pack is only eligible for US residents to win. The jewelry and gift card are eligible to US and Canada residents only. The ebook is eligible to anyone, unless prohibited by law.)

WAAAHHH!! I'm ineligible. Times like these, New Zealand really does seem so far away! Great prizes, Sara! Good luck to everyone entering - they are some wonderful prizes! Good luck with your new releases, Sara - and I'm wishing you happy future first drafting! :)


  1. Great interview, ladies. Love the blurb and excerpt. I adore wounded warrior love stories!

  2. Enjoyed your interview, Sara, but I can't believe you've never sent a text message.

  3. Fun interview! I loved your five facts Sara and I can't wait to read Gambling on a Secret :)

  4. Love reading more about you, Sara. And I'm with you on the whole not being able to watch my fingers when I type LOL. Great interview!

  5. LOL... I just started text messaging last year. It's addictive, although, I'd still rather dial the number and hear a voice.

    I sooo agree about first drafts! I'm at the stage now but as you can see...procrastination wins all the time!

    Best of luck!

  6. I've learned texting isn't so hard. My grandkids taught me. They live in other states, and it's our way of keeping in touch. Sometimes I simply text "Grandma thinks you're the bestest of the best." I always get a sweet response.

    Like you, I find first drafts are sometimes painful. So is the rewriting process. Heck, at times, it's all painful.

    Lovely interview and awesome excerpt. Another book to read. Woot!

  7. Great interview, ladies! I am so with you on the first draft, Sara! Hate it! I much prefer the revision process and edits! maybe because I'm a hardcore pantser, lol. Loved your excerpt! Book sounds awesome!! Congrats!!!!

  8. I couldn't get past #5. YOU'VE NEVER SENT A TEXT????? That's about the only way I communicate. How do you TALK to people????

  9. I don't text either, Sara. I don't even have a cell phone. Great interview!

  10. Hi Sara,

    Tee hee...I can't carry a tune in a bucket either. But I sing along with every country song on the radio whenever I get the chance! (It's pretty bad in summer...I drive a convertible...yikes!)

  11. Thanks so much for coming by everyone!