Monday, January 27, 2014

Joan Leotta is here to say hello. Come say hello back.

A Word or Few from Very Creative Author Joan Leotta  with her Artistic Vision

As a writer and a performer I follow the same artistic vision. Creating on paper with pen, with light as pen through a camera or onstage in performance, my artistic goal is always the same—to show the beauty of the ordinary and lift up my audience—encouraging others through pen and performance.

Creativity is an explosion of expression and a way to share my love or interest in something or someone with others, what I see and how I see it. In writing I like to use poetry, short fiction, long fiction and the non-fiction article. Occasionally even the essay form. Words are my primary palette.  Words carry into performance. Onstage I share my own stories and my versions of folktales and researched scripted stories of real people as one woman shows. For those, I often mine history and blend it to my imagination. When expressing myself through the visual arts, my favorite medium is light and the tools I use are those of photography.

When I'm not writing or painting word pictures from the stage, you can find me with my husband, often at the beach or simply sitting and talking in our home in Calabash, NC. Our favorite thing to do is spend time with each other and with our daughter. Our son has preceded us into Paradise and we take comfort in the  hope of seeing him there.

May these books encourage and entertain, excite you about words and give you the impetus to further your own creative pursuits. The books in the Legacy of Honor series are int eh category of sweet romance, I also think they are great YA because of the history in them and the young age of the protagonists.

Please check out my blog at : and like my Facebook author page  

---Joan Leotta

 A Bowl of Rice

Anna Maria chooses to stick to her commitment to service and by doing so,  looses her long-time college love, Michael. Is Mark, the handsome physician, the balm her wounded soul needs?  Or is it George who will claim heal her wounds with a love that transcends war and the pain she sees all around her?

              A short excerpt from A Bowl of Rice

Anna Maria stood still for a moment, watching him leave. She could still feel the pressure of his fingers on her back. She wondered if she had bruises there. She certainly had one on her heart. Her boyfriend, the man she had laughed with, listened to and planned a future with. He was not who she thought he was. No. She saw him more clearly now. Michael was someone who didn't understand, who didn't even care she that might have her own ideas. He probably never even thought they might have to compromise to continue their relationship. She reckoned he didn't realize a real relationship was compromise and a sharing of ideas between two loving adults. He had just shown her that a relationship was, to him, all about control -- his control of her. She knew that such a marriage with someone like Michael, now or even in the distant future, was not for her. From the examples within her own family she knew that even strong-willed people did not try to control one another in the name of love.

"How could I have been so blind?" she murmured to herself.

What's on the Horizon for Joan?

This book is the third in my series, Legacy of Honor--the time period was set for me but the story was wide open. I chose to have the heroine be on the field of action--as she might have been at the time, as a nurse. This is the story of a woman who defines herself--not by the men she dates, but by her own talents and contributions to the world. That independent strain is carried throughout the series--even from book one which takes place during world War Two--strong women who love family but who find themselves in and out of the family setting.

And Woo Hoo! 
We have a couple of giveaways, folks. 

Get your comments in!

JOAN is in the process of writing book four. SHE would like to do a contest to name a character in book four which will be an intertwined story of civil war and gulf war--so two eras to place your name--and entrants, please specify if you want to be a good guy or a bad guy. Let JOAN  know if you want just your first name or your entire name to be used.

Second Giveaway offer? If you are looking for a new AUDIO BOOK to add to your audio library, a gift worth $17.00, Shirley will be selecting a name at random to win her own Civil War Romance, FLAME FROM WITHINIn your comments to Joan, please also let us know if you would also like your name added to the FLAME FROM WITHIN basket. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

From a Spaceship Captain Hopeful to a Published Author

Alana Lorens dreamed for many years of being a spaceship captain, but settled instead for inspired excursions into fictional places with fascinating companions from her imagination that she likes to share with others. She has been a published writer for over thirty years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at a newspaper in Homestead, Florida, with a list of eclectic publications from horror to tech reporting to television reviews.

Writing as Alana Lorens, she produces romance and romantic suspense, including the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer series, CONVICTION OF THE HEART, SECOND CHANCES, and the latest, VOODOO DREAMS, released by The Wild Rose Press in October 2013. She writes urban fantasy and science fiction/science fiction romance under the name of Lyndi Alexander. The Elf Queen, her first novel, was released by Dragonfly Publishing in July 2010; the series continued with The Elf Child, The Elf Mage and The Elf Guardian. She’s now working on the space opera Horizon Crossover series, and a YA trilogy, The Color of Fear—the first book, WINDMILLS, was published by Zumaya Publications this summer.

She is a single mother of seven, with two special needs children at home with her in Pennsylvania, and she volunteers at her local shelter for domestic violence victims, believing in every person’s right to be safe.

We are happy to share Alana Lorens with you this week.

For more information, see Alana Lorens' fantasy series website at  or on Facebook at The Elf Queen (Clan Elves of the Bitterroot Series); Lyndi Alexander’s blog at; or her Alana Lorens website at . She also writes at, where she talks about life, autism, travel and writing


SECOND CHANCES is the second book in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer series . Each book tells the story of a woman lawyer who practices in Pittsburgh, Pa, which is such a great city.  I wrote SECOND CHANCES because I am a solo law practitioner and I know how hard the economy is for women trying to run their own business. When Inessa loses the job she's had her whole professional life, she's in a bad way. The novel tells the story of how she gets back on her feet and rebuilds her own self-esteem with the help of a wonderful young man who sees just how special she is.

 I also write stories that are focused on the plot much more than the intimate relationships. While there may be a brief interlude in the books, the heroine and hero are not lusting after each other all through every scene. For me, that's really distracting as a reader. I want to know the characters and what happens to them. They can get intimate during the times I have to put the book down, and I'll pick up after.  :-)

Zumaya Publications's release SECOND CHANCES. 

This romantic women’s fiction story begins the day attorney Inessa Regan receives a pink slip after ten years of faithful service. She’s been a mid-level associate her whole career, partners telling her what to do, providing her with an office and everything she needs. Thrown out into the legal world on her own, she doesn’t know how she’ll survive.

Her neighbor brings her first client, Kurt Lowdon, a young Iraq veteran with cancer, who’s looking just to have a will made. Inessa struggles to give Kurt what he needs, and he helps make it easy for her.

Once his immediate needs are met, he takes her under his wing and brings her more clients as well as a place to open an office to see them. Things begin to fall together for her, including a very special friendship with Kurt that becomes something more.

But his past military service in Iraq, and the friends he’s made there, begin to cause problems for them both, as well as issues his drug-addicted sister delivers to his doorstep. He still hasn’t kicked his cancer, either, and Inessa wonders if falling in love with him is a blessing or a curse.

To learn more about Alana and her books, check the following.  or on Facebook at The Elf Queen (Clan Elves of the Bitterroot Series); Lyndi Alexander’s blog at; Alana Lorens website at . She also writes at, where she talks about life, autism, travel and writing.


Inessa had visited the Pittsburgh IKEA store half a dozen times before, addicted to the simple, classic furniture designs and colorful d├ęcor items, but none of those experiences had ever been like this.

Perhaps the difference was because Kurt was a man, maybe it was the purpose of the visit, but she had fun. Negotiating the departments along the store’s one-way dictated path became an adventure different from any she’d had with a girlfriend.

The things that attracted Kurt’s attention! Forget the Swedish meatballs. He raved about a cushy pillow in shades of spring green and chocolate. He bought new towels in bright red and orange. Every gadget fascinated him, and he dug a sample out of the bins to test each one.

When they passed one bedroom set-up, the downy beige and green comforter was softly rumpled, as if the owner had just climbed out seconds before. “That looks comfortable.” he exclaimed, and he scrambled right in.

“Kurt!” She’d looked around, mortified. Several young couples passing by in madras Dockers and khakis stopped to stare; some smiled.

“What? This is a display bed. You’re supposed to try it out. Come on.” He held up the covers for her to join him. The mischievous expression on his face broke her up, embarrassed as she was.

“I don’t think so. You rest. I’ll be looking at office supplies.”

“Spoilsport. No one will care if you romp in the bedroom department at IKEA. Look, now everyone else is, too.” He gestured to several displays around them as other customers climbed onto neighboring beds, laughing and teasing each other. When she still held back, he affected a pout and pushed himself out, smoothing the bedspread again. “All right. Business first. Let’s go.”

Over the next couple of hours and the seeming miles of displays, he thoughtfully helped her select what she needed—a desk, comfortable chairs for her consulting clients, bookshelves for her legal research materials—but also remained playful. He had to experiment with every one of the wheeled desk chairs, spinning them around until he found the one with the least traction. “Try this one. It’s better than Kennywood.”

She laughed and checked the growing list of items on the small screen of her Blackberry, and the total she’d be spending. The thought of invading her cushion money sent little electric quivers through her midsection, but now that she was committed to this, it had to be done. “I think that does it.”

“Pick-up downstairs.”

They went down to the first floor and traversed the long rows of cardboard boxes, loading the ones they’d chosen onto a flatbed cart. He grabbed a new desktop set in green and blue. “You need this.”

“I need it? For what?”

“Just for fun.”

“Fun? It’s for work. Work’s not about fun.”

“Every moment should be about fun, counselor. Every moment.”


Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas Past -- New Years Forward

While to some Christmas is past,  we at A Pen for Your Thoughts see the Christ of Christmas remain in our hearts, our lives, and our minds from the beginning of the year until the end.
I am pleased to be able to share with you, Author Tina Pinson, who is going to bless us with news about her newly released book, Christmas in Shades of Gray. 

It was the week before Christmas and there where I lived,
temperatures were nearing 70 and short sleeves were in.
Granted for some in frigid weather that sounded rather strange,
but it did cool down some and we did get some rain.

The houses were decorated with twinkling lights.
The desert was lit, even Cactus and Palm Trees were bright.

I wore my shorts and sometimes sandals too, at night
if it cooled down a little jacket would do.
I set up my stockings, advent calendar, and tree.
In hopes my spirit would find Christmas Glee.

I hung stockings and garland and a couple of wreaths.
I had cookies and candies and sweet treats to eat.
I played the Christmas music, searching for the Christmas Cheer,
But in truth, I must say something was off this year.

Perhaps I longed for Christmases like before.
For frosty windowpanes and ice crunching beneath my feet when I stepped out my door.
Perhaps I longed to see my breath paint the air before me,
to see Christmas lights glisten with the moonlight on new fallen snow.

Maybe I missed the icicles lining the eaves of my house,
little prisms that giving off their own little glow.
Or being able to light a fire for more than ambiance's sake knowing it would keep me warm.

Perhaps it was because I was far away from some of my family and friends.
I couldn’t be at the large family gatherings, laughing over stories
or making memories with them.

Maybe I knew when I wrapped all the gifts, most would be sent out
and I would miss the smiles when they were opened.
Or maybe it was more than what I've listed above,
perhaps my mind was on so many other things, I'd forgotten what Christmas is for.

I'd forgotten that Christmas is more than presents and lights.
And more than tinsel or a fire's glow on a chilly night
 More than gathering with family and friends.
It's a timeless story with a gift that never ends.
It's about a tiny baby sent so long ago.

A gift wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. A message of hope.
A seemingly insignificant child, carrying the gift of the Father's love for all mankind.

Was your Christmas missing something? Did it lack cheer?
 I pray you find the joy and hope and peace that comes from Jesus.
And it last for the whole year.

In Christmas in Shades of Gray, David is lying in a hospital bed, dying and feeling terribly alone. His children don't come to visit. One would but he lives too far away, the others just don't seem to care. And those children who don't seem to care, don't know Christ either. Fearing he won't be able to see them again in life let them how much he loves them. He prays that God will reach his children so he will see them in eternity.
A being comes to him and asks David, "What in your life merits God answering your prayer?" And David is at his wit's end to answer.  The being takes David on a whirlwind tour of his past looking for the answer, but David finds it when he remembers the great Christmas gift ever.
Christmas in Shades of Gray is the story of one man's insignificant life, an insignificant life that God sent his son to die for because this life meant the world to him. It is my prayer that if you're feeling insignificant or lonely this Christmas you'll find the beauty of the season and remember the True Gift of Christmas. And remember you are loved.
May the Blessing of Christmas be yours
through out (this new year)