Happy Happy Halloween!!

Hope your Halloween is fun, safe and a little spooky!
Have a good one!!

Interview + Review -Ally Breedlove-When Will The Heaven Begin, The Ben Breedlove Story

It's not often that such an inspirational book comes along and I'm so pleased to welcome Ally Breedlove to The Reading Frenzy to talk about her book When Will The Heaven Begin, about her brother Ben and what he meant to her and the world.

  • ISBN-13: 9780451468154
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Pages: 320


An inspirational and heartrending memoir about Ben Breedlove, whose videos about his near-death experiences and visions of heaven went viral in 2012, written by his sister, Ally Breedlove.
On Christmas Day 2011, Ben Breedlove’s soul went to heaven. But it wasn’t his first time there. Ben suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart condition that posed a constant risk of sudden death. His condition, a thickening of the heart muscle, worsened over time, leaving him weak and fatigued. It also led Ben to some close calls medically, in particular cardiac arrest on four separate occasions, during which he felt the presence of angels and experienced the perfect peace of heaven.

I’m so pleased to welcome to The Reading Frenzy Ally Breedlove.

Ally welcome tell to The Reading Frenzy. Tell the readers a little about the book When Will The Heaven Begin.I believe that life is a gift, and my brother, Ben, taught me to live with that in mind every day. Ben passed away on Christmas day of 2011 from a cardiac arrest. The night he died, I discovered a YouTube video Ben had created unbeknownst to my family, titled, “This Is My Story, Part 1 and 2.” That night, the video began to go viral.
In the video, Ben had written on notecards and held them up one-by-one to the camera to tell his story. He told of how he had been born with an incurable heart condition, and how he had cheated death three times. He also described his near-death experiences with angels and peace of heaven. In the end, Ben held up a notecard that asked the question, “Do you believe in Angels or God?” He held up one last notecard that read, “I Do.”
Within days of Ben’s passing, the video had reached millions of people from all over the world; it was even translated into several different languages. My family was bombarded with Facebook messages, letters, and media interests all throughout the week, and that’s when we decided to televise Ben’s memorial service. At that point, it was not about my family, or even Ben himself—it was about sharing the peace, hope, and truth in Ben’s message with the world.
This is the same reason that I have decided to write a memoir of my brother’s life. Ben was born with his heart condition, he had his first near-death experience when he was four, and he lived almost his entire lifetime leading up to the creation of the video. And he adventured through all of it with an enormous smile on his face and an immense amount of joy in his heart, even through most of his lowest moments. There’s so much more to Ben’s life than the glimpse people saw in the video, and I hope people can gain an even greater sense of peace and hope by reading Ben’s story in its (almost) entirety.

Tell us a bit about you. How old are you? What are your plans for the future?Ben and I were only a year and a half apart in age, and we were best friends growing up. At the time of his death, Ben was eighteen and I was nineteen. After completing the book, I am now twenty-one, and I am so honored to have been given the opportunity to share Ben’s story.  After I’m not traveling anymore for the marketing of WHEN WILL THE HEAVEN BEGIN?, my future is wide open. A lot of opportunities have presented themselves over the last two years, and I have a few secret projects in the works that might take a few years to complete.

Was writing the book cathartic to you?Writing the book was a very therapeutic experience. I felt like I was able to release all of my heartache and confusion, and relive the best moments with Ben at the same time. I cried my way through parts of the manuscript, and laughed until my stomach hurt at others.

Ally what were your and your family’s first thoughts when you learned of the videos Ben made?What did you think of them going viral?At first, we were overwhelmed with emotion at seeing Ben alive and smiling again on the screen. We had just watched Ben pass away the day before, and I can’t describe the feeling we had from seeing him alive again. It was a profound reminder for me to focus on Ben’s life, and not his death. He was on screen telling us that where he was now—surrounded by the incomprehensible peace of heaven—was exactly where he wanted to be. It was a gift.  When the video went viral, we knew that this story was becoming much bigger than anything Ben could have created. We loved Ben, but he was just a normal kid who was willing to share his story. He had made this simple video, in simple language full of typos, that had somehow changed the lives of millions. Ben created the video, but God used it to speak to people’s hearts.

Part One

Part Two

When you remember Ben what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?His smile! It was HUGE. And I really miss him being around to pester me. Whenever I let myself get too stressed out about something I was working on, he would distract me to remind me that the most important things in life are relationships. He brought a lot of levity to my life.

Ally Ben was very small when he first told your family about seeing the bright light and the angel. What was your and your family’s reaction to his claim?Ben was always very quiet about the serious things in life. That night in the hospital, he told my mom that an angel had been with him, but he rarely spoke about that incident throughout his life. We could tell that it was a very personal experience to him, and we respected that. The only other time I recall hearing about that instance from him was when my Mom encouraged me to read the college essay he had written during his senior year of high school. He wrote, “I get chills just thinking about it, because I know an angel was looking over me, literally. After experiences like these, you view life in a different way.”

What role does faith play in your and your family’s lives?At the tender age of four, Ben told God that he wanted to live in heaven someday, and he wanted Jesus to be with him for life. About a month later, Ben had his first near-death experience during which he was comforted by an angel. At eighteen, Ben attributed this event to changing his perspective on life. He talked to God whenever he was scared about his heart, and he would sit by the lake at night to ask God questions whenever he felt overwhelmed. And after Ben felt the peace of heaven in his vision, he told me, “I think God let me have that vision so I wouldn’t be afraid of dying, and so I would know that heaven is worth it.”My family and I know that God was always there for Ben in his lowest moments on earth, and we truly believe that Ben is living the peace of heaven now. We know his life on earth was lived for a purpose, we know that his message lives on now, and we can’t wait to see him again.

Ally, you’ve mentioned how conflicted you were when Ben shared with you that he wish he’d never woken up from his near-death experience. If a victim of a similar illness sought your advice what would you tell them?
Life is a gift. Every morning that you wake up, you have the power to decide what you want to do with your life, and how you want to live it. You can waste it, or you can decide to make the most of what you have been given, and use it to give back to the world. Ben decided to live every day with joy, focusing on his possibilities in life, rather than his challenges. There was a point when Ben began to question his purpose and wonder why he had to suffer in this life; but he ultimately decided that he believed he was here for a reason, and he continued to make the most of the little time he had left. Had Ben not lived eighteen years with a life-threatening heart condition, and had he not decided to make the most of his last weeks on earth, he never would have created the video that inspired millions. Ben decided to make the most of his story, to share it with the world, and to finish it well. I hope to one day be inspired by the stories of others who decide to do the same.

How do you and your family remember Ben? Are there tributes?The first time we celebrated Ben’s birthday without him, we invited our neighbors and Ben’s friends to our house for a balloon launch. Each person wrote a personal note to Ben on a balloon, and then we released all the balloons into the sky. But we think and talk about Ben every day, and remember him mostly by his unforgettable sense of humor. And sometimes we wonder if he’s still goofing off while working on his new, more important purpose :)

Ally, thank you so much for chatting with me today and for bringing Ben’s story to the world. Is there a memorial fund or charitable organization that you support in Ben’s name?My family and I give to various charities, depending on where are hearts are lead at the time, and we encourage others to do the same. However, at the time of Ben’s passing, we set up the Ben Breedlove Memorial Fund that benefits Africa New Life Ministries. Here is the link: http://www.africanewlife.org/the-ben-breedlove-memorial-fund/

My Review of When Will The Heaven Begin

Ben Breedlove was born with a heart defect called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy  (HCM) a condition that would end his life at the too young age of 18.
When Will Heaven Begin is a celebration of that all too short, exceptional life told by his sister Ally. But Ben was so much more than his disease; he was adventurous, he was a prankster, he was a good and loyal friend.
Readers will meet and fall in love with this courageous young man, we will be in awe of his strength of character in the face of unimaginable odds and we will watch him grow from a baby until he got his ultimate wish of going to heaven at 18.
And we will experience through Ally’s words the family’s discovery of Ben’s last act caught on a YouTube video he made shortly before his death that went viral. This was Ben’s final gift to his family and the world.
This is the story of a brave boy who will make you a believer too.
Watch the video; let Ben inspire you like he inspired millions before you

I Stand for Texas Public Schools

your curly companion, Suzanne

"Public sentiment is everything.  
With it nothing can fail; 
against it, nothing can succeed." 
-Abraham Lincoln

I've been thinking.  Scary, I know.  Recently, I've encountered two very similar messages that have deserved thought and action.  So here I am.  

To start off each school year, our district organizes convocation to inspire its employees before the new year begins.  When asked to describe convocation to one of our new teachers, I explained it as a cross between a pep rally and a devotional.  Yep, that's about right.  Our speaker for this year's ceremony was Jamie Vollmer.  Vollmer was quick to confess that he was once a businessman and vocal critic of public schools.  Before we started booing and throwing things, he got to the but of his story...but through experiences and research, he now sees the vital role that public schools play in our society.

Fast forward a few weeks (hello alliteration)... After a conversation with a friend, I asked to borrow a book that she had just finished reading- Hello! My Name is Public School and I Have an Image Problem by Leslie Milder and Jane Braddock.  Both of these authors are public school teachers and advocates for Texas public schools.  

From both sources the message was the same: Public schools are one of our most valuable resources, but their reputation is being tarnished from the inside. Ouch!  

This is far from a hopeless situation.  Jamie Vollmer left us with 5 S's that can help us spiff up the image of our public school systems:

1.  Stop- Stop badmouthing in public.  Keep negativity about teachers, students, parents, and administrators out of our restaurants, shopping malls, and football stands.  People hear what is said, and as a result, think less of you and our schools.  The authors of Hello! My Name is... write, " So much energy is focused on what's wrong with our public schools and how to fix them that we, Americans, lose sight of the extraordinary work occurring in our schools every day, thanks to millions of caring, dedicated professional educators who will stop at nothing to ensure every student reaches their potential" (pg. xix).  The sad truth is that negativity sells.  The headlines and six o'clock news are filled with what's gone wrong in our world.  No one is going to come looking for what's right, so we must keep ourselves busy spreading the message about what our school have gotten right.  

2.  Shift- Shift your attention from negative to positive.  Our authors' support this idea: "We have to learn how to effectively communicate what is going RIGHT in our schools and how to restore the public's confidence and hope in a public school system that is achieving great things for ALL students, for every child in America, every day" (pg. 10).  Be vocal about all the good that our schools are accomplishing.  Besides, what we put our attention on grows stronger.  You're not in this along.  We are working together as a team to achieve student success.  "Loyalty to our profession is essential if we want to recapture the respect that an educator once commanded" (pg. 21).  

3.  Share- Share successes with the community.  "Americans have a right to know their children are in good hands, and their tax dollars are being invested efficiently.  We also need to remind Americans about the significance our free public school system plays in our democracy" (pg. 6).  Not only that, but there are many roles our public schools are filling that might be overlooked.  Vollmer relayed a conversation he had with a school nurse where she cited the surprising number of insulin shots she administers over the course of a school day.  For some students, school is their access to healthcare.  "We've all had students for whom public schools is a safe place to come everyday, where they do not go hungry thanks to our free and reduced lunch programs, where they are not beaten down but built up, loved, nurtured, and respected" (pg. 28).  These overlooked feats need desperately to be reported: How many safe miles have our buses covered?  How many meals are served in the course of a week?  How many coats are handed out each winter?

4.  Sustain- Sustain the effort!  We must not stop.  We can not stop sharing this positive message.  Post an answer to one of the questions listed above as your Facebook status.  Tweet about the great thing that happened at your school today.  Email this post to your friends and neighbors.  Inventory the number of positive messages you've sent about our schools this week.  Maybe you can come up with three.  Excellent!  Next week push to make it four.  

5.  Start now!  Our children are our most precious commodity.  Some students are months away from joining our universities and work force.  We must invest in them, providing the knowledge and skills that are needed for success.  Vollmer reminds us that we now face a moral/practical dilemma.  Our moral obligation is to teach every child to his or her highest potential.  Given the current economy, advances in technology, and business skills needed, we need every student to be ready.  All students must graduate prepared to succeed in and benefit our society.  

One of the easiest ways to start supporting schools is to get out and vote for lawmakers who have a history of acting in the best interest of public education.  Let's face it, teachers don't have good voter turnout.  Rather than complain about decisions that are made, let's support our legislators and keep an open line of communication.  You get a chance to voice your vote on Tuesday, November 5th.  

I'm thankful for Jamie Vollmer, Leslie Milder and Jane Braddock and the timely message they bring.  I'm thankful that their message caused me to think and spurred me to action.

I'm proud to be a part of our public school system.  
There is no better place to be.  
Won't you stand with me?

To find out more about what you can do, visit Friends of Texas Public Schools.  

Life happens ...

... and when it does, you don't always get to do the things you want, even the things you plan, even the things that others expect. This hasn't been a great month for writing. Hopefully that can be rectified in the months to come. Until then, dear reader, say a little prayer for the man in the Black Hat.

For tomorrow is another day, when the morning sun heralds the promise of God for new life, and the hope of another chance.

The Great Halloween Link Up Features [Part 4]

Here is the last of The Great Halloween Link Up Features. A big thanks to everyone that took the time to link up this year. We have absolutely LOVED looking at everything you've been making.
Today's features are some fun ideas for the kids and a couple pumpkin ideas for those of you with naked pumpkins still. :) 
Don't miss the exciting announcement at the bottom of the post as well!!

Fancy Fishnet Pumpkins by Crab + Fish | Silly, Spooky Spiders by Nearly Handmade | Diy Glitter Pumpkins by Artsy Fartsy Mama | What Does the Fox Say Pumpkins by Poca Cosa


Hey all you Pinterest lovers!

We have some fun news to share with you. We've teamed up with some great bloggers to bring you a Pinterest board filled with all kinds of inspiration - from photography, to recipes, to holiday ideas and free printables - you'll find it all at The PINspiration Place!! This board is definitely a must follow!

Click HERE to join the fun!!

If you are not already you can follow our Pinterest Boards as well : Jennifer : Jamie : Jodie : Eighteen25

The PINspiration Place
[You do have to go to this page and click follow even if you are following all of our other boards. It will be worth it.... I promise]


This post is sponsored by:
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Author Interview Antoinette van Heugten- The Tulip Eaters

Today on The Reading Frenzy I'm so pleased to bring you an interview by a personal favorite author of mine, her debut novel Saving Max received well deserved rave reviews and this her second novel is an exceptional piece of literary historical fiction in her latest just released yesterday The Tulip Eaters.
Sit back and enjoy our interview then RUN don't walk to pick up a copy of your own.

  • ISBN-13: 9780778313885
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 368

In a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present, critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child's life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family's troubled history in the dark days of World War II. It's the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing

Praise for Saving Max:
"A high-speed chase of a novel, Saving Max is like the best of John Grisham with a feminine twist."-New York Times bestselling author Eileen Goudge
"Antoinette van Heugten combines the tender, unshakable bond between mother and son with an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat thriller." - International bestselling author Diane Chamberlain
"Parents of children with serious behavior problems will find their worst nightmares come alive in van Heugten's debut murder thriller...[with] more than one harrowing twist toward the end..."-Publishers Weekly


Antoinette it’s so good to have you back on The Reading Frenzy.

Tell us a little about The Tulip Eaters.
The novel is an exploration of how the past wields power over the present and of a mother’s unconditional love for her child.  It is about a woman, Nora de Jong, who comes home to a nightmare.  Her mother lies murdered on the floor, a dead stranger next to her with a Luger in his hand, and her baby, Rose, has been kidnapped.  Frantic, Nora works with the police to try to find Rose, but there isn’t a single clue until Nora finds mysterious documents in a metal box that bring everything she thought about her parents into question and drive her halfway across the world to Amsterdam, where pieces of an old family diary lead her into her mother’s past and a world of secrets, lies and truths that played out in Nazi-occupied Netherlands between 1940 and 1945.  The more Nora discovers, the less certain she is of the truth and it is only the truth that will lead her to Rose.  But the clock is ticking.  Will she ever find her?  Or has her mother’s secret past already sealed Rose’s fate – and Nora’s own?  

What is the reason you set the present day of the novel in 1980?
It was the latest time frame that could credibly have a character who had survived World War II and still be spry enough to commit murder!

Tell us about the meaning of the title.
Over 20,000 people starved to death in The Netherlands during the Second World War, many in 1945, the year called “The Hongerwinter.”  When even basic food sources became scarce, the Dutch scoured the countryside, digging up potatoes – anything they could find to feed their families.  When all else had been scavenged, they dug up and ate tulip bulbs, which they ground into meal or made into watery soups, and yet had to be careful to avoid the innermost portion, which is poisonous.  They were forced to eat their own national flower to survive, which I found to be a tragic irony of the Nazi occupation.

Is there a personal significance to this novel for you?
My parents were Dutch and fought in the resistance in the Netherlands during World War II.  Although they did not speak of it often, as children we heard stories of how our grandmother hid a Jewish boy in the cellar, how my mother transported microfiche on her bicycle and how my father had blown up munitions depots.  We also were made well aware of the hardships their families and others suffered during the five years of Nazi occupation, particularly the starvation conditions towards the end of the war.  As such, I have always had a personal as well as an historical fascination with that time period.  My parents’ heroism, demonstrated when they were only teenagers, was my initial inspiration. 

The Tulip Eaters like Saving Max is a crime drama and each is as tense as the other. The Tulip Eaters however deals with occurrences from Nazi occupied Netherlands.
How did your research for this novel differ from Saving Max?
Or did it?
Saving Max was a very personal novel as it was based in large part upon my experience as the mother of autistic children.  The Tulip Eaters is completely different.  Thirty years ago, I spent two years in Amsterdam doing research at the War Institute studying Dutch resistance fighters during WWII.  Both of my parents were Dutch and active in the underground. I lost my mother when I was twenty-one, so the novel is also a kind of homage to her.  The Tulip Eaters required intense historical research, but that was not the case for Saving Max. 

Antoinette I noticed on your website there is a blog button.
When did you start blogging and what do you mostly blog about?
I am a complete amateur at social media!  Now I do Facebook, Twitter and blogs.  I try to find articles or subjects I think will be interesting to other writers or just take off on things I think are funny.  My sense of humor is offbeat, to say the least.

You’re working on your third novel now (we’ll come back to specifics in the next question) Does novel writing get easier the more you put under your belt?
No, no and no!  I think it was much easier writing my first novel (even though it took ten years to find the right agent and get published) because I had no idea how hard it was to write a book.  Now I find that I have to be truly intrigued by the subject matter and that I have to ratchet up the level of complexity to feel I am giving the process its due.  With Finding Marianne (sequel to Saving Max), it does feel good to come home to the same characters and finish what I started!

Antoinette, I heard a rumor that your third novel is going back to the characters of Saving Max.
Tell us if it’s true and what it’s all about please.
Oh, this is going to be so much fun!  Marianne has resurfaced after two years on the lam.  Danielle has married Tony and Max is attending college in Houston, now that he is properly medicated.  Marianne is back at her twisted games, now determined to exact revenge.  To assist her, she now has an acolyte with his own bizarre predelictions.  Danielle, Max and Doaks combine their talents to ferret out Marianne, who is just as slippery in evading them.  Will Marianne get her just desserts?  She certainly deserves it!

 Antoinette what surprises you most about your fans?
That there are so many of them and how incredibly loyal they are.  I can’t describe the feeling I get when I still receive letters from autistic teenagers, their parents or friends thanking me for writing the novel and telling me about their lives.  I’m also stunned that the novel sold as well as it did and that I am already getting emails and posts about The Tulip Eaters.  Writing, as everyone knows, can be hellishly difficult.  When readers love what you write, it makes everything worthwhile.

Antoinette I’ve interviewed authors who swear that when they’re in their “writing cave” they tend to ignore everything else. I’ve had one author describe it as a “cerebral odyssey” when describing the mindset.
Is this true for you too?
Absolutely.  You can ask my husband.  When I’m in my writing fugue, he literally has to feed me and tell me when to shut it down for the day.  Without him, I’d weigh eighty pounds and give Howard Hughes a run for his money.

Antoinette do you belong to a writing/critique group?
No.  I tried it a few times, but found it very disruptive to have critiques coming from all sides before the first draft is done.  I work best alone, first outlining with my agent, Al Zuckerman, and then doing a lousy first draft which evolves over time into something I feel is as good as I can make it. 

Antoinette thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, good luck with the new novel.

Connect with Antoinette WebsiteFacebook - Twitter

Author bio:
A former international trial lawyer, Antoinette van Heugten spent 15 years practicing all over the world, primarily in Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in Houston, her hometown. She’s a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, where she earned her undergraduate and law degrees.
See more at: http://www.avhbooks.com/author/#sthash.MTz0zBI5.dpuf

My Review of The Tulip Eaters

Dr. Nora de Jong comes home to find her mother brutally murdered, a strange dead man in the house and her precious baby daughter Rose missing. Local law enforcement is getting nowhere fast so Nora decides to take matters into her own hands. When the fog of despair clears enough for her to function Nora begins her journey, which takes her to Amsterdam, not the modern city where Nora’s own troubled past lies but a darker more sinister city of the 1940s Nazi occupation a place where her parents lived before they fled to the US. The deeper into this mystery Nora gets the more questions arise, and the more dangerous for her own safety it becomes, as it’s obvious someone wants her to stop her dead in her tracks. The only light in her life is the hope that Rose is alive and that after her return Nora can perhaps reclaim some happiness when the crimes have been solved, if she survives what this elusive villain has in store for her.

From the first pages readers are reeling from the conundrum that Antoinette throws us in and we don’t stop twisting and turning until the nail biting end. Her visual narrative paints perfect scenes and gives a unique voice to her story as she gives us a glimpse of the victims and the perpetrators of that tumultuous time. Her characters are rich and three-dimensional; her protagonist Nora is wonderful in her role as are her co-stars good bad and the in-between. What also stands out for me in this read and her last one is the hope that’s always there even at the lowest tide. If you loved Saving Max like I did this will be a must read for you. If you love WWII historical fiction of Sandra Dallas, Kristina McMorris or Sarah Blake you will love The Tulip Eaters.
Antoinette this is the second incredible journey I’ve been on with you and I can’t wait until the next one.

The Great Halloween Link Up Features [Part 3]

Here is some fun food, yummy food and down right scary food. Maybe one of these treats will make it on the menu for tomorrow!!


**GIVEAWAY** Blog Tour Sarah Morgan- Interview + Review of Sleigh Bells In The Snow

Today I welcome back a personal favorite author from across the pond, author Sarah Morgan whose first full length romance novel Sleigh Bells in The Snow is available today and is getting rave reviews, not that I'm surprised because this lady knows her love stories. So sit back enjoy our interview and my review courtesy RT Magazine on this my stop and the first stop on her blog tour sponsored by her fabulous publisher Harlequin. Then enter for a chance to win this fabulous prize package (US & Canada Only). Details and entry form below!

  • ISBN-13: 9780373778553
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384

USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan heats up the season with the O'Neil brothers in a brand-new holiday series!
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.
Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. 
Publishers Weekly-Starred Review

 This touching Christmas tale will draw tears of sorrow and joy, remaining a reader favorite for years to come. (Nov.)
"Sarah Morgan puts the magic in Christmas."-Now Magazine
"Morgan's brilliant talent never ceases to amaze."-Romantic Times

I’m so pleased to welcome back one of my all time favorite authors Sarah Morgan who’s just now dipping her toes into the waters of full-length fiction with her debut Sleigh Bells In The Snow.

Sarah Hi and Welcome!
Hi! And thank you so much for having me here, it’s great to be back!

Tell us all a little about Sleigh Bells in the Snow.
My hero Jackson O’Neil has come home to save the family business, Snow Crystal Resort and Spa in Vermont.  To do this he brings in my heroine Kayla, a PR expert.  Kayla is a workaholic and her least favorite time of year is Christmas. Hoping to avoid the festivities and the emphasis on family that she finds difficult, she agrees to go and spend a week in Vermont experiencing all Snow Crystal has to offer.  But instead of finding herself alone in a forest, she finds herself right in the middle of the O’Neil family. Before she knows it she’s chopping logs with Grandpa, cooking with Grandma and falling in love with sexy Jackson.
I loved watching Kayla slowly melt. I’ve never been so happy to give a heroine her happy ending.

How many titles in this series are there and when will they release?
There are three books in the O’Neil Brothers series. Sleigh Bells in the Snow is November 2013, then surgeon Sean’s story, Suddenly Last Summer will be out July 2014 and bad boy Tyler’s story November 2014. No title for that one yet!

Was there a particular catalyst that led to this series?
I’ve always loved writing snowy, Christmas stories. When I wrote for Medicals those books were enormously popular with readers so when I decided to write a full length contemporary romance it made sense to write what I loved the most. I spoke with my editor and HQN and they were as excited as I was, so together we decided on two winter stories with a summer story in the middle, and so the O’Neil Brothers series was born!

Now that your first full-length novel is under your belt what was the most difficult part about writing it?
If I’m absolutely honest, nothing. Sleigh Bells in the Snow was one of those rare books that flowed easily and it was fun to write from beginning to end, perhaps because I’d been longing to write a full length contemporary for a long time.  I loved the characters, I loved watching their interaction and I enjoyed the relationship between the O’Neil family. I had so much fun writing those scenes where the family is interfering! Writing this book never once felt like work. I enjoyed the process so much I even sneaked off on Christmas Day while my family was recovering from an overindulgence of festive food and wrote a scene while sitting under the Christmas tree. I probably won’t ever find a book that easy again so I’m making the most of it!

Sarah how difficult is it writing a novel about the US while living in the UK?
Very few of the books I’ve written for Harlequin Presents were set in the UK and part of the fun of being an author is discovering and writing about new places. Fortunately the internet makes that not only possible but fun and exciting. Once I’ve decided on a setting for a book, whether it’s New York or the Brazilian rainforest, I spend a lot of time researching.
I’ve travelled in the US, but whether or not I’ve been to a place won’t influence my decision to use it as a setting. I’d love to visit all the towns and countries I write about, but sadly that isn’t always possible. I’ve set around seven books in Sicily and I’ve never been there J.
With the O’Neil Brothers series, I used webcams (a brilliant research tool!), local blogs and tourist websites to gain the information I needed. If I have specific questions I will contact someone local. People are really helpful to authors! I do a lot of research, not just about scenery and climate, but exploring the detail of trees, birds and wildlife.  Although Sleigh Bells is set in a fictitious resort, it’s still important to make the setting believable and as authentic as possible so that the reader isn’t pulled out of the story.  And I always remind myself that this is a romance! It’s about the characters and their emotional journey and the setting does play a part in that, but it’s not what keeps people reading.

Sarah you have also been chosen to be a part of the Cosmo-Harlequin Red Hot Reads Program
Tell us a bit about the novella and how you received the news about your participation in the Cosmo Red Hot Reads program.
I’d just finished writing Sleigh Bells when Harlequin invited me to be part of the Cosmo Red Hot Reads programme. It was a rigorous acquisition process because all the stories were read not just by Harlequin but also by the Cosmo team. Fortunately they loved my story as much as I did. I had so much fun writing it. I already had part of a story on my laptop that didn’t fit anything I was doing (sometimes I play with characters and dialogue for my own amusement), and the moment my editor described what they wanted for the Cosmo stories, I knew what I had would be perfect, so I went ahead and finished it. I’m writing two books for them, about two sisters (fun, fearless Cosmo girls!) but each story stands alone.

Ripped is Hayley’s story and she has a mega embarrassing bridesmaid moment and is rescued by the best man. There is serious tension and chemistry, but it’s romantic, funny (I hope!) and very sexy. I’m about to start writing sister Rosie’s story. She is a martial arts expert so expect someone to get kicked in the butt!

Sarah I have the honor of reviewing your Harlequin Presents novels and also this novel.
What are your personal feelings about reviews?
Reviews are important for the reader, to help them navigate the thousands of books out there and find stories that are right for them. Having invested time and money in a book, it’s a way of sharing the experience with others. Reviews are important for the author too. We want people to discover our books! And inevitably reviews will be a mixture of good and bad. It’s important that the author disconnects from that emotionally as far as possible.
As a reader, what is important to me isn’t the grade as much as the detail of the review. Before I stay in a hotel, I check out the reviews. ‘I loved this hotel’ is not much use to me (we might love different things) but if a guest says ‘this hotel was right in the middle of the city and we loved the buzz and the noise’ I might choose not to stay there if I’m looking for peace and quiet. Likewise, the best book reviews in my opinion are the ones that tell me WHY a reviewer did or didn’t enjoy a book because that helps me decide whether it’s something that appeals to me.

Are you a reader?
What genre, favorite authors?
I’m an avid reader. I love romance and read widely across that genre, but I also love reading biographies. They give a fascinating insight into people’s lives and I’ve had lots of ideas for character motivation and background from reading about people’s lives. As for favourite authors, Nora Roberts is right up there on top for me, but I have a long list of others too and I love discovering new authors.

Sarah what’s the strangest/funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a signing/author event?
A reader once mixed me up with another author and gushed about a book I hadn’t written! I took her to the author she was looking for but we’ve remained in contact ever since and now she reads my books too J  Romance readers are the best!

Sarah thank you so much for taking the time to share a little bit of yourself with us.
Will there be any events scheduled for this release?
I may also have exciting news about a US signing, but I won’t be able to confirm that for a while. I’m blogging in various places around the release date and giving away copies of books. The best place to stay up to date with my news is my website and my Facebook page www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahMorgan 
Thanks for having me and for letting me talk about Sleigh Bells!

Connect with Sarah - WebsiteFacebookTwitter - Goodreads

About the Author

 USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humor and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. Described as ‘a magician with words’ by RT Book Reviews, she has sold over 11 million copies of her books. She has been nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and won the award twice; in 2012 for her book ‘Doukakis’s Apprentice’ and 2013 for ‘A Night of No Return’. She also won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award in 2012 and has made numerous appearances in their ‘Top Pick’ slot.
As a child Sarah dreamed of being a writer and although she took a few interesting detours along the
way, she is now living that dream.
Sarah lives near London with her husband and children, and when she isn’t reading or writing she lovesbeing outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying.

My Review of Sleigh Bells In The Snow
Courtesy RT Magazine

4.5 stars
Kayla Green’s loathing of Christmas stems from her dysfunctional indifferent family, so she’s more than ready to work through the holiday saving idyllic Snow Crystal resort. What she’s not ready for is the total O’Neil family at Christmas experience and her feelings for resort owner Jackson.
Jackson O’Neil’s prepared to sacrifice everything to save his family’s resort, he’s brought in marketing guru Kayla to work her magic, but the only magic she’s working is heating up his libido.
Could Christmas magic bring love?

Morgan’s foray into full-length romance is a holiday hit. Her visual narrative epitomizes rustic Vermont in full-winter finery while showcasing her witty humor and inherent understanding of the human condition. Her co-stars are riotously meddling and endearing and watching her relationship-phobic Brit transplant heroine and confident hometown hero ineffectively battle fate the elements and their feelings from the boardroom to the bedroom delights. 

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The Prize Package

1)      Snow flake earrings
2)      Copy of Sleigh Bells In the Snow
3)      Package of cute Harlequin holiday gift tags


This fabulous prize package is sponsored by Sarah's publisher
Harlequin and is open to US & Canada entrants only
To enter use the Rafflecopter form below
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Thanks Sarah and Harlequin

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