Spotlight, Author Interview, & Excerpt: Oranges for Miranda + Giveaway

Oranges for Miranda

oranges for miranda

Oranges for Miranda
by Annette Bower
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance

Miranda Porter, a newly retired award-winning businesswoman, leaves home to transition into her new life stage. Always in control, this is her time to have fun without plans and responsibilities. Enter Renato Monteiro, a considerate tour guide with secrets. Miranda isn’t looking for long-term. She wants a purpose in her retirement. Could her purpose in retirement be finding love in this unlikely place? Could her aim be domesticity and caring for and be cared for by a newly found friend? Will a vacation romance end because of miles?

Renato Monteiro has decisions to make. Stay in his birth country where his female relatives want him to marry a woman young enough to give him children. Or does he return to his second home, where he has a purpose and has built a life without children? The day Miranda and he bumped heads changed his life and his pursuit. Now he must decide which is most important the family he was born into or the family he chooses.

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Excerpt:

A blue and white tiled stairway leading up to the second floor of a house caught Miranda’s eye. She positioned her phone and snapped photos as she thought about the amenities she would prefer in her perhaps forever home or home for a while.

Orange trees in yards were stunning. Back home in Regina, residents planted fast-growing poplar trees in front of a row of fir trees, which would be mature when the Poplars had reached their life span. Her mind leapt. Stacy and Nathan were her fir trees. Her parents started the business and expanded it for her, and she, in turn, developed it for her children. She shook her head, no more thoughts of her Canadian life to ruin this beautiful day with the azure blue sky, the white stucco buildings and the red tile roofs.

Miranda stepped onto the corner café’s patio and sat on the blue-tiled bench attached to the blue-tiled table. A young woman, dressed in black, appeared from a dark interior and gave her a menu with different flags denoting the various translations of the food items. She ordered black coffee and a glass of brandy as a treat she had read that many locals enjoyed during the day. While she waited, she searched in her guide book to discover the tiled pavement in the area was called calcada.


Author interview:

1. What inspired you to write this book?
I was interested in exploring what the third act of a young retired woman would be like. She was driven to succeed in business and chose to be a single mother while she was young and healthy. Her adult children are now running the successful real estate company, and she knows she has to leave or she will interfere. She needs to allow them to fly. So she leaves the country with thoughts of establishing a new home away from home.

I learned that men also grieve being childless. My fifty-five-year-old hero, because of circumstances, didn’t establish a long-term relationship with a woman, and therefore he hasn’t become a father. There are groups to assist women who have not chosen to remain childless, but there is very little support for men.

3. What surprised me the most in writing it?
I have frequently traveled to the Portuguese Algarve, and I was surprised when writing and recalling my adventures and how much I long to go back.

I was also surprised how many women and men chose to be single parents. More and more, we read about single adults who foster or adopt because they want to be part of a family.

4. What does the title mean?
Oranges for Miranda was my working title, and my publisher liked it enough to suggest we keep it. An older Portuguese woman gifts Miranda some freshly picked clementine oranges in an early scene and calls Miranda bela beautiful. During this time of indecision for her, the gift from a stranger represented women’s understanding. It also means a life cycle. The orange tree blossoms and then bears fruit. The fruit is the product that changes, either when eaten or turned into something else, but the orange lives on if the seeds are planted. Similar to Miranda’s succession plan with her children growing the business.

5. Did real people inspire any of the characters? If so, do they know?
Renato was inspired by a man I saw on a bus when I vacationed in Waikiki. This man was with an older gentleman, who I think was his father and a child, who I believe was his son. I watched this man interact with the man and the child with gentleness and love, and I felt the vibes. I surreptitiously took photos of him on the bus and when the party got off. No, he will never know, and I can’t share his picture because he doesn’t know and hasn’t given permission.

6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
There is a surprise in the novel. One of my editors suggested I change it because she didn’t believe it. I ran the situation by my hairstylist, and she asked me if I was describing her neighbor. I decided that if she knew of an example, then there would be others. I won’t tell your readers; it would be a spoiler for Miranda’s character and Renato’s acceptance.

7. What is your favorite part of the book?
I like to create the growing attraction and love between Miranda and Renato. Although these are older characters who have experienced life, their goals for a relationship are the same yet different from a younger couple.

8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
Even though Miranda is indecisive at this part of her life, she has a lifetime of experience of being in charge. Renato has made changes in his life, and now he is back in the country of his birth. It was a challenge to have him indecisive about his choices.

9. What are your immediate future plans?
My immediate plans are to help many readers join Miranda and Renato on their journey to love. Our province is opening up, and I am planning reading events at libraries around the province. I enjoy reading to an audience.

I am also working on a new story. Unfortunately, I always start with too many themes and have to lose one or two gradually.


Author Info:

Annette believes home is where her stories percolate. And her home is a condo where she watches the urban life below, airplanes arrive and depart at the international airport, and the seasons change on farmland near the horizon. Annette travels extensively but always returns home to Regina, Saskatchewan. Whether at home or away, and even though directions are always a challenge, she wanders the streets, parks, and lanes observing how people live, love, and care for one another. Your way of sitting, holding hands, the way you tilt your head, or a t-shirt you wear may end up in one of her stories.

On her first trip to Olhos de Água, a fishing village in Portugal, she stopped at a café where the proprietors were a mother and daughter. Annette sat at the outdoor blue and white tiled table and ordered an espresso and brandy. While the sun warmed her back, she opened her new notebook. The older woman walked by carrying a basket, tipped her head toward Annette’s blank page, and shrugged. When black-laced heeled shoes struck the tile, and the scent of just-picked clementine oranges interrupted Annette’s writing, the woman plunked three oranges at the edge of her page. Annette cherishes this gift from one woman to another. Recently, Annette travels with an accompanying Orange and shares pictures on Social media as her way of honoring those Portugues women. A version of this event appears in her new novel, Oranges for Miranda.

During another trip, while searching for an address in Malaga, Spain, she asked a well-dressed man carrying a floral paper-wrapped bouquet if he spoke English? Would he direct her to the address? With impeccable English, he suggested she walk with him. They chatted, and she discovered he was a lawyer in his final days of retiring. Finally, she asked to whom he was giving the flowers. He lifted the cover to reveal a large crucifix. This detail has not appeared in a story yet.

In a coffee shop, looking south between glass tower office buildings, she could be anywhere in the world. However, she is home watching people on Eleventh Avenue run for buses, bring tea to a panhandler, and holding mittened hands while bending into the wind.

Annette uses experiences she gathered as a nurse, town administrator, elected official, traveller, and member of a large extended family to inform her stories because writing is her joy.

Annette Bower is a Soul Mate Publishing author of five contemporary romance novels. Her novel Fearless Destiny was first runner-up in the 2017 Sweet Contemporary RONE awards and winner of the Raven Award. Her novel Ponytails and Promises was a finalist in the 2020 RONE Awards and is the 2020 winner of the Raven Award.

Annette Bower

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Giveaway

Annette Bower will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Constellations + Author Interview & Giveaway

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Constellations
by Patricia Leavy
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance

Constellations follows Tess Lee and Jack Miller after three years of marriage as they navigate the meaning of love and family over a series of holidays. Tess is a wildly successful and world-famous novelist. Her inspirational books explore our innermost struggles and the human need to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Jack is a former federal agent. After spending decades immersed in a violent world, a residue remains. Both healing from past trauma, together they have finally built the life they wish to live. What will happen to their blissful union when Jack’s childhood family resurfaces? When Tess and Jack visit the Millers for Christmas, how will insecurity, a sense of missed opportunities, and the need for redemption test their relationship? When a terrible accident threatens everything in an instant, will they learn the true meaning of unconditional love? Their loved ones are along for the ride: Omar, Tess’s sarcastic best friend who calls her Butterfly; the female president of the United States, with whom Tess talks politics and bakes cookies; Joe, Jack’s friend from the Bureau who understands the sacrifices he’s made; Bobby and Gina, their younger friends who never fail to lighten the mood; and the Miller family. Constellations is a novel about family – those into which we’re born and those we create – the human desire to belong and feel connected, the true nature of intimacy, and the power of love to heal and redeem. Written as unfolding action, Constellations is a poignant novel that moves fluidly between melancholy, humor, and joy.

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Excerpt:

Tess clung to Jack as they sped along the cliffside road on their Harley, winding around the last curve as they approached their house. When they arrived home, Jack carefully took off Tess’s helmet, kissed her, and grabbed the bag of fruit they’d bought at the farmers market. She pulled the scrunchie out of her hair, releasing dirty blonde locks down to her waist. They headed inside. “You thirsty, baby?” he asked.

She nodded.

He quickly tapped a coconut, stuck a paper straw in, and handed it to her.

“You’ve gotten so good at that,” she said, taking a sip.

“Yeah, just in time to go back to DC. I can’t believe we have to leave our Hawaiian paradise tomorrow morning. We’re crazy to leave Maui this time of year.”

“I know, baby. But we’ll be back in less than three months to throw Omar and Clay the tropical Valentine’s Day wedding of their dreams. Besides, it’ll be fun to see our friends.”

He smiled and kissed her forehead.

“Here, have some,” she said, handing him the coconut. “Let’s leave the pineapple out. We can grill it tonight for our Thanksgiving feast while we sit on the lanai and watch the sunset.” She kicked her shoes off, slipped her T-shirt over her head, and shimmied out of her shorts, revealing a hot pink string bikini. “Bet I can beat you to the ocean,” she teased, darting off.

Soon, they were splashing around in the warm water, the sun beating down on them. Jack wrapped his tanned arms around Tess and kissed her. They stared at each other, the energy between them electric.

“I could get lost in your big, brown eyes,” he said.

She smiled and said, “Come on, let’s dry off.” They walked to their pool and lay together on a chaise lounge.

“Jack?” Tess whispered.

“Yeah, baby.”

“I know you hold back sometimes, but you don’t need to.”

“Tess…”

“Baby, I know you do. There’s nothing that could ever happen between us that I wouldn’t want.”

He caressed the side of her face. “You’re so beautiful and delicate. I just want you to feel safe and loved.”

“I do and I always will.”

“You’ve been through so much. It wasn’t that long ago that Ray was stalking you; I know that brought up memories of your childhood abuse. I don’t ever want to be the cause of your pain or remind you of the ways you have suffered.”

“You couldn’t. You only push those thoughts further away. I trust you, Jack. Nothing could ever change that. I want to share everything with you. I’ve never felt as close to another human being as I do to you.” She ran her fingers through his wet, salty hair and said, “I still remember the first time we came here, before we owned this place. You took me in the shower and we were so free.”

He grazed his fingers along her cheek.

“I’m gonna rinse off,” she said. She untied her bikini top, let it fall to the floor, and headed for the outdoor shower.

Jack hustled out of his swim trunks and followed her. She flipped the water on, turned toward him, and smiled. He cupped her face in his hands, kissed her softly, and with one swift movement, swung her around and pulled her bathing suit bottom down. “Don’t let me hurt you,” he whispered. He pushed her against the wall and they made love passionately.

With his quivering body pressed tightly against hers, Jack kissed Tess’s neck and nibbled on her ear. Finally satiated, he turned the shower off and wrapped towels around each of them. He picked her up and cradled her in his arms as he carried her to a lounge chair. They resumed their tender kisses, Jack caressing the side of her face. He looked at her with unadulterated adoration.

“I love you so much,” he said.

“I love you too. More than anything.”


Author Interview:

  1. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?

I’ve always wanted to write a love story, but never did. Then one day, Shooting Stars came to me in a burst, which was very different from the way my other novels have materialized. Shooting Stars came to me quickly, when I was standing on my balcony looking at the stars, and I wrote the entire first draft in about ten days. I barely slept, I didn’t respond to emails, and if anyone spoke to me, I’m sure I didn’t hear a word they said. I was completely immersed, more than I’d been with anything before. Shooting Stars explores love and healing from trauma. When I finished writing it, I knew there were more stories to tell and I loved the characters so much I wasn’t ready to let them go. I wanted to look at love and other topics, writing each novel as a stand-alone. That is how this serial was born. Twinkle, the second book, looks at love and doubt.

Constellations is the third Tess Lee and Jack Miller novel. It explores love and family. It’s absolutely my favorite book in the series. Each series title can be read as a stand-alone novel, although I do think readers will get more out of them and be more invested in the characters if they read them all.

2.  What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?

I’ve learned so much from these characters about love, compassion, and how we should treat one another. I’ve learned about what love looks like in action. How we do love day to day, during the good and bad times. There’s a grace with which the characters treat one another. In many ways it’s aspirational, but I carry the message with me.

3. What surprised you the most in writing it?

How quickly the story flowed out of me. Honestly, it was an absolutely magical experience.

4. What does the title mean?

It’s a metaphor—you need to read the book to find out, but I promise the answer is there.

5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

They’re purely fictional, from my imagination, although there are bits of Tess Lee that I can personally relate to.

6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?

Yes. We can build families of choice. True intimacy is possible when we love unconditionally, whether it comes in the form of sexual passion, the way we laugh with one another, or the way we take care of one another during our darkest or most vulnerable moments. Redemption is possible. If we reflect on missed opportunities, we can try harder and do better. Every relationship matters. Those we’ve loved are never really gone, even when they are no longer in our lives, and even when they return to stardust.
7. What is your favorite part of the book?

The epilogue. Tess reads an excerpt from her novel that I think is beautiful and ties together the themes of the book. It contains my favorite line I’ve ever written. When I sent the manuscript to early readers, many said the epilogue brought them to tears and lingered with them.
8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Jack and his father John have a chance to repair their relationship. It was important to me to “get this right” as I think, in some ways, many people experience something like this, even if it’s less dramatic than in the novel.

9. What are your immediate future plans?

The next Tess Lee and Jack Miller novel should be coming out in early August. It’s titled Supernova and it’s the darkest, grittiest book in the series. The novel explores love and trust. What happens when there is a betrayal? Tess and Jack’s love will be tested in a way it never has been before. It’s been written for a while, so I’m just waiting to release it.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

leavyPatricia Leavy, Ph.D., is a bestselling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chair of Sociology and Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. She has published over thirty books, earning commercial and critical success in both fiction and nonfiction, and her work has been translated into many languages. She is also series creator and editor for ten book series with Oxford University Press, Guilford Press, and Brill/Sense, including the ground-breaking Social Fictions series. Patricia has received dozens of accolades for her books. Recently, her novel Film won the 2020 American Fiction Award for

Inspirational Fiction, her 3-novel set Candy Floss Collection won the 2020 American Fiction Award for Anthologies, and her novel Spark won the 2019 American Fiction Award for Inspirational Fiction and the 2019 Living Now Book Award for Adventure Fiction. She has also received career awards from the New England Sociological Association, the American Creativity Association, the American Educational Research Association, the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and the National Art Education Association. In 2016 Mogul, a global women’s empowerment network, named her an “Influencer.” In 2018, she was honored by the National Women’s Hall of Fame and SUNY-New Paltz established the “Patricia Leavy Award for Art and Social Justice.” She has residences in Maine and Massachusetts where she lives with her husband, daughter (when she’s not away at college), and her dog. Patricia loves writing, reading, watching films, and traveling.

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Giveaway:

Patricia Leavy will be awarding a signed set of 3 novels: Shooting Stars, Twinkle, and Constellations to two (US only) randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Spotlight: Wyrd Gods + Author Interview

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Wyrd Gods
by Susana Imaginário
Published: August 22, 2019
Genre: Mythic Dark Fantasy
Pages: 394 (Print Length)

CW: Abuse (emotional), Animal cruelty, Chronic illness, Mental Illness, Cannibalism (only mentions of), Genocide (only mentions of), Gore, Violence, Racial bigotry (between fantasy races), Self-harm, Suicide, Suicidal thoughts, Torture

POSSIBLE ULTIMATE TOUR EXPERIENCE TICKETS: Represent, It’s All About the Journey, Snark It Up, Love Actually, A Villain You Love to Hate, The Wings of Change, Storyteller in the House, Bring On the Magic, Simply Mythical, A Gate to Another World

The God of Time wants to destroy Eternity.

A mysterious immortal seeks vengeance.

And a reclusive deity does what no god should ever do: she answers a prayer.

As punishment, she is stripped of her powers and trapped in a mortal’s body. Now a Wyrd – a fated god – she is haunted by the memories and thoughts of her host and must hide her true identity in order to survive in Niflheim, the rival Norse Underworld.

There she discovers the afterlife is not quite what it used to be. Niflheim’s new ruler threatens the precarious balance of a world overrun with outcast deities and mortals alike.

To save her own sanity and find her way back to the stars, she must help the other Wyrd overcome their grievances to defeat this enemy, but those who would be her allies appear to have motives as hidden as her fragmented consciousness.

And yet it seems the greatest threat to her freedom comes from within, and the prize it seeks is her immortal soul…

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Author Interview:

1.What inspired you to write this book? OR Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma, etc?

I found this ancient yew tree in an old graveyard back in the UK. I used to just sit there amongst the faded gravestones, imagining how it all would have looked like when the tree was young. This led to a series of incomplete historical fiction stories based on the idea of time travelling through trees. I liked the concept, but failed to make it work in the ‘real world’. Eventually I abandoned reality altogether and used the plot of another unfinished novel written years before, a sort of Clash of the Titans meets Stargate and set the story in Niflheim because I wanted to bring the Norse gods to the mix as well and so (after many drafts, revisions, edits, tears and curses) Timelessness was born.

  1. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?

I learned that less is more when telling a story and that it’s a good idea to leave your ego out of it.

  1. What surprised you the most in writing it?

When I finished I had enough surplus material for another two books and despite how hard it was to write the first one and the overwhelming amount of disappointment that came after publishing it, I still wanted to keep writing.

  1. What does the title mean?

Wyrd roughly means fate or personal destiny, and since one of the themes in the series is fate vs the consequences of one’s actions, it seemed appropriate.

Besides, the story, as well as its structure, is a bit weird with a satirical undertone. Definitely not your typical fantasy.

And since the inspiration for Wyrd Gods came from several ancient mythologies and half the characters are gods, I had to mention gods in the title.

  1. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

No. I try really hard to keep reality separated from my work to avoid such comparisons (and complications).

  1. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?

    Yes. Very much so. 

Wyrd Gods focuses on the thin line between selfishness and self preservation and how limited each individual’s perspective is and the consequences of assumptions and miscommunication.

There’s several lessons actually, but you’ll need to read the entire series to learn them.

  1. What is your favorite part of the book?

I have several. 

The horse riding scene because it was one of the first ones I wrote. The bedroom scene in the dark, mostly because it’s the one most people comment on and seems to make them uncomfortable. 

And, of course, any scenes with Loki. He’s just so much fun to write. 

  1. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Ideth and Chronos. Ideth because she’s an almost complete opposite of me. I always have to think through her actions and motivations very carefully in order to make sense of them. And Chronos because he’s the personification of time. If his actions make sense, I’m probably not doing a very good job. 

  1. What are your immediate future plans?

Publish Nephilim’s Hex (in July, if all goes well). By the time this interview comes out I may have started, or at least announced, a Kickstarter to fund the audiobooks for The Dharkan, Nephilim’s Hex and Anachrony (books 2, 3 and 3.5 in the series) and of course, finish the series. Book 4, Anamnesis is drafted, but still needs a lot of work.

 

susana-imaginárioAuthor Info:

Susana Imaginário is a misfit from Portugal. She moved to England to pursue a career as an aerialist and now runs a Board Gaming retreat in Ireland with her husband and their extremely spoiled dog.

Her hobbies include reading, playing board games, hanging upside down, poking around ancient ruins, talking to trees and being tired.

Her debut novel, Wyrd Gods, combines mythological fantasy with science fiction and psychology in a strange way.



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