You've found the home on the net for romance writer, LaVerne Clark. Thanks for visiting! :)

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.

Make yourself your drink of choice, stay a while and feel free to leave comments. I love to meet new friends.

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! :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Seriously Funny - Janet Elizabeth Henderson

I am so thrilled to introduce you to a fellow kiwi and seriously talented writer friend, Janet Elizabeth Henderson.

Janet writes hilariously funny, feel-good (and hot and sexy) contemporary romances. If you're in need of cheering up, or just need a break from too many angst-ridden novels, I highly recommend you pick up one of Janet's wonderful books. Take it from me, (as someone who has once again stuffed her knee playing her first game back at netball and is almost finished this book) she will have you laughing out loud and forgetting your worries.

Self portrait of Janet - "Smurf Me" 

Wanna get to know Janet a little better? So do I - here we go:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a Scottish lass living in New Zealand and loving it. My days are filled with caring for two adorable tiny girls, one high-maintenance husband and more animals than one person can cope with! I’ve lived and worked all over the world. One of my favourite countries is Peru, where I spent a year. I’d live there again, only my Dutch husband refuses to learn another language! I have a degree in fine art – I used to be an installation artist – and a teacher’s qualification. I’ve taught every level, from primary school to art college. I love art history and am probably more than a little obsessed with Van Gogh. Apart from that, I eat too much chocolate and can quote large chunks of dialogue from Buffy The Vampire Slayer!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
…when I started to get letters from readers, telling me that they loved my work and wanted to read more. I remember sitting in shock after reading a couple of these, thinking:  people think I’m a real writer. It blew my mind!

Aww...I love that! Makes it all worthwhile doesn't it to think others around the world are enjoying what you do. Do you remember what inspired you to write your first book?
Bugsy Malone. I was eleven. I wrote my own gangster novel. It was set in Chicago, a place that only existed in my imagination. The irony was, there were actual real life gangsters in my extended family and I had no idea as a child. I could have based it on them!

I love call stories. Can you tell us about yours and your reaction?
I don’t have a call story. I have ‘wait’ stories. My first romance sat with a publisher for two years while they repeatedly told me that they loved it and they would make a decision soon. I think I would still be waiting! That was after I had to part ways with my agent. They refused to send my books to romance publishers. It’s been a rocky few years! In the end, I decided to self-publish. I know self-publishing is a risk, there are a lot of people out there who naturally assume that if you put your own work out, you must be rubbish - or that no one wanted you! But I think that in time, your work speaks for itself. And if readers like it, then that’s all I care about! Well, that and the fact I don’t have to go back to teaching. I’d rather boil my own eyeballs than teach again! J

After reading your work, I'm flabbergasted you haven't been snatched up, quick-smart! What drew you to write your chosen genre?
I write what makes me happy. I love writing about people in mad situations that they think are normal. I love the humorous quirks of life, when people aren't trying to be funny but they so are. I love it when sparks fly between a couple, but they really don’t know what to do about it, or about each other. Mainly, I love a good story that leaves me with a smile on my face. I hope that’s what I write.

Let me assure you - you certainly do! What’s the most challenging part of the writing process for you?
Getting peace to write! I have two tiny girls who think my office is a playroom. The youngest still doesn't sleep through the night, which means I spend days as a zombie. I have a husband who likes to chat – particularly every time I sit down at my computer. I have animals that need to nest/ bed/ play in my room. It’s a mad house! I try to write at night when everyone’s asleep, but even these days that’s hard. Roll on term time!

Hehehe - I couldn't resist posting this photo which shows exactly that from your Facebook page. Hilarious! Which one of your books is your ‘baby’ and why?
Laura’s Big Break. It was the second romance I wrote and I feel like things came together for me in it and I found my voice. I love that it has laugh-out-loud moments, but also really serious sections. The only thing that bothers me about it is the length – if I was writing it again, I’d make it longer! I was seriously thinking about writing a follow up, just so I could see how Charlie and Laura were doing a few years down the track. Now, that’s sad!

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a trio of books set in Scotland. I made up a tiny town in the Highlands and I’m now letting my characters run riot in it. These books are much longer than the last three I wrote, so it’s taking a bit more working out. The first is called Lingerie Wars and tells the story of Lake Benson, an ex-army guy who buys a lingerie shop to help his sister out. He then takes over and does what he does best – wages war with the lingerie shop over the road! It’s a case of last shop standing and the whole town get involved. Unfortunately for Lake he knows nothing about lingerie – other than how to remove it from a willing body. Meanwhile the owner of the rival shop is an ex-lingerie model, who knows quite a bit about lingerie and about men! I’m having a blast with it. Especially with Evil Betty, the 87 year old who resembles a Hobbit.

I love Betty already :) Latest news?
I have a revamped website that has a lot more content than the last one. There’s a resource section for writers, a list of wonderful Kiwi authors and excerpts from my books. It’s still under development but I’m hoping it will grow so full of information that I’ll struggle to control it! You can find it at 

Where can we find you and your books?
I have a blog, that I mainly use to humiliate myself by telling the world everything I do wrong!

Thanks so much for stopping by Novel Natterings, Janet! You're just as much fun in person as your books suggest you would be. Good luck with all your future endeavours, I'm looking forward to reading more from you :) 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blog of the Year Award!

I've been nominated for a Blog of the Year award by one of my very favourite authors, Vonnie Davis! My very first award, folks! :) Look at it. Isn't it a thing of beauty - all shiny and new!

Thank you Vonnie, dear. I will proudly display this on my blog and think of you every time I look at it. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting Vonnie, (even if only online) I am very sorry for you. Vonnie is one of those people you fall instantly in love with. Her spirit, warmth, generosity, wisdom and laugh-out-loud humour captivates. Her posts in reply to a fellow writer's plights or pleas on our shared publisher's loops are always encouraging, comforting and uplifting. She knows just the right thing to say - and so beautifully, every time. And her books are filled with the same qualities. If you haven't read any of Vonnie's books yet, you really are missing out. Start with her first novel, Storm's Interlude. Or, if you feel like a novella-sized story, try, Those Violet Eyes. You can't go wrong with either Storm or Win. Hmmm...but then there is Cam (Tumbleweed Letters) and Niko (Mona Lisa's Room). I'm waiting impatiently for her next stories. Her blog is so much fun and she loves visitors. I promise, you'll fall in love with this very special lady too.

The ‘rules’ for the award are simple:

1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award

2. Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.

3. Please include a link back to this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them

5. You can now also join our Facebook page – click the link here ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook page and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience

6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

And now - I'd like to nominate a few blogs for this award.

Vonnie Davis -
As I've explained above - one of my very favourite people and authors - and I'd love to help Vonnie reach the coveted six stars. She is a champion in my eyes and totally deserves all the accolades she gets :)

Kelly Matsuura -
Kelly is another online friend of mine - but feels more like a sister. Like I've known her all my life. She is another incredible author who's boundless energy and is infectious. She cheers me on, lets me sulk when I need to and is always there in support in whichever way I need it. She is also the worlds BEST critique partner who can zero in on a snag and sort it out in record time. Watch out for her name in the future, or check out her self-published collection of short stories, Stirring Winds. I predict this lady is going to rock the publishing world :)

Heather Jensen -
Heather is another wonderful, wonderful online friend. I swear, finding true friends like these ladies is a real blessing. Heather is another powerhouse of a writer. She constantly inspires me to be a better writer, better organized and is one hell of a NaNoWriMo buddy. She is the undisputed NaNoWriMo Queen in my eyes. The year before last, she wrote just over 100,000 words in one month. ONE MONTH! I know - crazy fast isn't it? And the freaky thing is, the writing was GOOD! I can't wait to see Heather's name on the cover of a book. I've a feeling it won't be long at all until we do.

Calisa Rhose -
Another fellow Wild Rose Press author, Calisa is a busy, productive and generous lady. I want to be like her when I grow up! Not only is she an incredible writer, but an editor for an e-publisher too. Calisa's blog is a wonderful place to visit, learn and be entertained. Her guests are varied and interesting and she's just recently   started a new spot on her blog where readers, writers and aspiring writers can chat to editors! How cool is that? Calisa has already been nominated three other times for this award - but it just goes to show how loved and admired she is.  

Enjoy your awards everyone - and thank you for being with me on this wonderful writing journey. Its been a blast having you girls alongside me. Love you all, xx

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year Crush

Happy New Year everyone!!

Just had to get that off my chest and to make up for leaving my blog unattended for so long. But I'm back now, and its going to be a great year - don't you think? 
I have discovered a new crush. Its very sad of me, I know. I thought, by the age of 37 and with my own very sexy man at home, that I would be beyond getting any girly crushes, but then my husband made me watch a movie with him, and I was a goner.
Tom Hardy in Warrior

I mean - look at him! Isn't he all kinds of lovely? Those eyes, that body - and those LIPS!
Here he is again - just because :)
The more I gazed at this beautiful looking man, I started to realize why I found him so fascinating. He reminded me of someone. Dark hair, full lips, strong body - and that smouldering gaze enough to make you weak in the knees.
My husband, Anthony. Sigh...
Aha! Is it any wonder all my heroes tend to be tall, dark and muscular? I think I might have to get out with the camera more now its summer here, or just watch the boys do the gardening more. I think I might have another project for them at the ready... ;)
I'm suddenly feeling very inspired to write a scene with my latest hero.