Book Journeys – Derbyshire

Last week we visited London from the viewpoint of my character, Eisley Barrett, who is on a genealogical mystery hunt in England. You can check that post out here.

Today, we’re going to journey to Eisley’s next stop – Derbyshire and the ‘inspiration’ for Lornegrave in my novel, Just the Way You Are.

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HaddonviewDerbyshire (pronounced Darbisure) is a county in the ‘middle’ of England which also houses a large part of the beautiful Peak District (if that sounds familiar you may have read/heard about it in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice). I particularly enjoyed the Peak District because the mountain range there (Penines) have a similar geography to many parts of the Blue Ridge 😊 Except, Derbyshire had cliffs (think Lizzie Bennet standing one with her dress billowing around her) AND cooler looking houses.

Some of the lovely sites in Derbyshire are Bakewell (for the famous Bakewell Tarts), Kedleston Hall, Hathersage (where Charlotte Bronte was inspired to write Jane Eyre….and where Little John is buried 😉 Matlock, Chatsworth House (which will be in a later post) AND….my inspiration for my manor house in Just the Way You Are – Haddon Hall.

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Oh my, Haddon Hall is a wonderful, out-of-the-way visit in which you feel as though you’ve really stepped back in time. This 12th century house has been used in all sorts of movies like… The Princess Bride, various versions of Jane Eyre, the most recent version of Northanger Abbey, and The Other Boleyn Girl – to name a few. You can learn more about Haddon and those movies here.

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Enjoy a VIRTUAL TOUR…AHHH…HERE.

In Just the Way You Are, Lornegrave (for which Haddon is the model) is the ancestral home to Eisley’s family mystery – so she gets to do some sleuthing in top-notch fashion in a home that holds as much mystery as any novel. The beauty of the woodwork, the windows, the gardens, all set the stage for a wonderful world of creativity and imagination.

So….when Eisley (my heroine) gets a chance to walk the stone stairs and sneak through subterranean passageways, this is the type of place to create atmosphere 😊

HaddongardenTo give you a sneak peek into one scene in Just the Way You Are, I’ll let you follow along in some of the sleuthing. (She’s accompanied by her English “guide” Lizzie…who kind of looks like Helen Mirren 😊

Excerpt

Derbyshire Excerpt.jpgEisley shuddered. “So, what exactly are we looking for down here? Another letter? Maybe one in a wine bottle or something?”

Lizzie’s finger danced in the air, counting each shelf as she passed. “Ten, as I thought.” She stepped around the final shelf and slid a hand over the wall behind it. Eisley followed, but the flashlight’s golden glow revealed only the dimpled wall.

Nothing.” The pinch of disappointment curbed Lizzie’s tone. “I’m not sure what I expected to find, but at least something.”

Eisley scanned the row of shelves and replayed the words from the letter. Take my wine at half past ten. Half past ten?

She counted back five. “Lizzie, what if it was a twist on the phrase? Maybe half of ten?”

Eisley’s beam sliced like a spotlight down the wall over the previous five shelves, the sound of her breath a whisper in the silence, her hope even smaller. Another crazy delusion of hers? What was she thinking? Her beam smoothed passed a dip in the wall and she stopped. “Lizzie?” Eisley brought the light back to the indention, her breath dropping out altogether. “Lizzie!”

I see it, Luv.” Lizzie came to her side and directed the flashlight’s rays between the shelves.

Aviary Photo_131346060437455072A wooden slab door, perhaps three feet tall, wedged in the shadows, tucked in an unusual curve of the wall. The old door’s faded brown slabs matched the wall color so well it was easily overlooked, especially without the convenience of electricity, and the angle at which the door fit into the wall obscured it from view. It was a perfect hiding place. Maybe even a secret room?

Lizzie moved first, squeezing between the shelves to the wall. “This most certainly isn’t on the blueprints.” She crept along the wall until she touched the ringed handle of the door. “A subterranean passageway, I’ll wager.”

A…a subterranean passageway?” The words stuck in her tight throat. “Underground?”

Lizzie shoved at the latch. It didn’t budge. She took her flashlight and beat against the metal handle until it moved. “We shall see, shan’t we? Come, give us a hand.”

Eisley rushed forward and pressed against the door. With a clank loud enough to rattle the wine bottles, the door lurched open, sending a screech into the shadows surrounding them.

Creepy.

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Swoony Saturdays – Wes Harrison

Welcome! Welcome!

Swoony Saturdays are your opportunity to be introduced to a book hero who fits high quality hero characteristics. (okay, so he just makes us weak in the knees for all kinds of reasons, but you get the point)

The photos involved are chosen as the most representative of the heroes featured, so IF they look like someone you’ve seen before, that’s almost entirely accidental.

Wesley Harrison (1) Continue reading “Swoony Saturdays – Wes Harrison”

Book Journeys – London

In anticipation of my upcoming release, Just the Way You Are, I’m going to take you on my characters’ journeys through different settings in the book.

Our first stop is London….Book Journeys - London

My heroine, Eisley Barrett, arrives in Heathrow International Airport and is swept off her homicidal heels by the suspicious, reformed rogue, Wes Harrison. Her quaint Appalachian world has her daydreaming about England and her wounded heart keeps her from seeing God’s possibilities for her life.

Before traveling to the beautiful midlands of Derbyshire, Eisley is taken on a whirlwind tour of London by Wes’ parents, Daniel and Eleanor Harrison. So…what does she see?

Walk with me Continue reading “Book Journeys – London”

God’s Got This

 

15179200_10211258017066916_7178522006256679097_nMy 15 year old daughter is a pretty amazing kid. She’s confident, smart, pretty, and has a mad-awesome gift for art. She’s also pretty mature, which is why when she asked to start a job, her dad and I figured she was ready.

She is.

But some interesting things happened for this whole job thing. Last week she had her first day of work (1/2 day) at a local, small restaurant near our house. She was nervous but excited. She folded silverware in napkins for 4 hours.

She was not excited!

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Some of Lydia’s artwork

I told her that if she did her work well in small things, they’d give her more responsibility. It’s part of the learning curve.

So when her next shift came up today, she was even MORE nervous and basically told me she didn’t want to go. In fact, she was SO nervous, she almost cried. I was trying to sort it all out and realized she was terrified of two things…failing and not finding joy in what she was doing.

For hours she DREADED going into work. We talked a lot about it. I said, “Lydia, you’ve got this! You have all the skills you need to do a great job AND as they see what a good worker you are, they’ll give you more responsibilities and you’ll like it better”

july2016She didn’t believe me. She couldn’t SEE past her fear.

How often are we like this? As a child of God, I allow fear to crowd out the truth I know that God is in control. So even when I think I’ll fail – even when I don’t believe I’ll find joy in the choices He places before me, He inevitably knows best and I can TRUST that He knows me better than I know myself (and He LOVES me infinitely more than I can ever comprehend)

Even when He pushes me into a situation that leaves me terrified, nervous, uncertain, or even frustrated, His view of my path is certain, sure…and for my BEST!

Let’s get back to Lydia?

She was given two new responsibilities today and came home grinning – sooooo happy with her own accomplishment and job. In fact, she hummed, had a lighter hop to her step, and all those fears had dissipated. She told me, “Mom, I’m sorry I complained. I can handle this, I just couldn’t see it.”

God sees so much better than we do, and he doesn’t leave us without the resources (in Him) that we need to complete the tasks He gives us to do!

Isn’t that an amazing grace!

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according  to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph 3:20-21 (ESV)

 

Kiss or Miss results

seasidekisses450Well, you guys, the turnout for the Kiss or Miss Scavenger Hunt was AMAZING!!

The personal winner for Stacy’s blog post is attennos39 – so make sure you send me an email with your contact information!! WOOHOO!!!

As a recap, here was Stacy Claflin’s scene and at the end I’ll tell you whether it was a kiss or a miss 🙂

Seaside Kisses excerpt

Being next to Rafael Hunter reminded Amara of all the times she’d shared a desk with him in school. But even then, they hadn’t been this close. She could smell his cologne and their sides touched.

He didn’t seem at all bothered by it—not that she was bothered by his touch. After the spot was cleaned, he moved over and dipped the rag into the bucket. “Let’s see if I can do this next one on my own.”

“I have faith in you,” she teased.

Rafael gave her a funny look. It appeared to be a mixture of embarrassment and determination. “Thanks.” He scrubbed, removing the egg faster than even she had.

“See?” Amara asked. “I told you. It just takes some muscle.”

Rafael’s lips curved upward and he flexed his muscles, making them bulge even more through his silk shirt.

Amara enjoyed the sight for a moment and then reached back into the bucket and found another rag. “Is that a challenge?” she teased. She squeezed out the excess water and then rubbed a spot on the window.

“Hey!” Rafael laughed and attacked another spot.

They cleaned furiously, laughing the whole time. Just before they were done, Amara splashed some suds on Rafael’s face, careful to avoid his nice shirt.

“Oh, yeah?” he asked, his eyes gleaming. He scooped up a handful of bubbles and held them up, his eyes narrowing but his mouth grinning handsomely.

Amara’s mouth dropped open. She squealed and ducked just Rafael threw the suds. They splashed onto the door behind her. Amara glanced back and laughed. She turned, and just as she made eye contact with Rafael a big glob of foam splashed onto her whole face.

She froze, surprised.

“Oh, no,” Rafael said. “I’m so sorry.” But he was laughing. It was a beautiful sound.

Amara laughed, too. “It’s okay.” She wiped some of the bubbles off, flinging them onto the ground. Luckily none had gotten into her eyes, or that would have been trouble for her contacts.

“Let me help you with that.” Rafael stepped closer and wiped more of the suds from her eyes to her jawline. His hands lingered near her cheeks, almost cupping her face.

Amara’s breath caught and they stared into each other’s eyes. Swallowing, she reached up and wiped some soap from his stubble.

Neither spoke, and Amara’s heart pounded so loudly she thought it would explode out of her chest.

Rafael leaned closer—so close she could smell mint on his breath. Her eyes widened, her skin on fire. He paused, still staring into her eyes.

Are you READY???

If you guessed KISS, then you GOT it!

And Congratulations to Marylin Furumasu for the grand prize win!!

And thanks to ALL of YOU for joining us on this fun scavenger hunt for kisses.

Order Seaside Kisses here:  http://amzn.to/2mhJCKD

and visit Stacy’s website here : http://stacyclaflin.com/

n.to/2mhJCKD

Kiss or Miss Blog Tour – Stop 2

seasidekisses450Recap:

Remember to start at Crystal Walton’s site for all the links to the blogs involved in this tour!!!

Here Are the Deets:

Scavenger Hunt Schedule: February 13th through the 17th
Once you have all the words (that are hidden in each blog post and marked in red), arrange them in order to complete the mystery quote and enter it on the final stop of the event on Crystal’s site, 2/17.
Grand Prize: A paperback from each participating author, as shown in the image below.

Be sure to visit each author’s site for giveaways, sales, and fun! (You’ll find that link HERE)  Once you have the mystery quote, come back to this site on February 17th and enter it in the grand giveaway.

Stop 2:

A huge thank you to Pepper for hosting me and Seaside Kisses on her blog! I’m excited to be here, and a part of the scavenger hunt!

My name is Stacy Claflin, and I’m a multi-genre USA Today bestselling author. My Hunters series is Sweet Romance. It follows the Hunter family, five brothers in California and their cousins in Oregon.

In Seaside Kisses, we meet Rafael Hunter and Amara Fowler, both lifelong residents of the small seaside town Kittle Falls. Rafael would rather not be there, but life has left him no other choice. His clothing business in LA failed, so he’s forced to return home.

Amara has never left, and now she and her twin brother share responsibility running their parents’ candy shop. She also never forgot about her high school crush – Rafael. When he returns home, she can’t believe it. And even more shocking, he seems to have taken notice in her!

Seaside Kisses excerpt

Being next to Rafael Hunter reminded Amara of all the times she’d shared a desk with him in school. But even then, they hadn’t been this close. She could smell his cologne and their sides touched.

He didn’t seem at all bothered by it—not that she was bothered by his touch. After the spot was cleaned, he moved over and dipped the rag into the bucket. “Let’s see if I can do this next one on my own.”

“I have faith in you,” she teased.

Rafael gave her a funny look. It appeared to be a mixture of embarrassment and determination. “Thanks.” He scrubbed, removing the egg faster than even she had.

“See?” Amara asked. “I told you. It just takes some muscle.”

Rafael’s lips curved upward and he flexed his muscles, making them bulge even more through his silk shirt.

Amara enjoyed the sight for a moment and then reached back into the bucket and found another rag. “Is that a challenge?” she teased. She squeezed out the excess water and then rubbed a spot on the window.

“Hey!” Rafael laughed and attacked another spot.

They cleaned furiously, laughing the whole time. Just before they were done, Amara splashed some suds on Rafael’s face, careful to avoid his nice shirt.

“Oh, yeah?” he asked, his eyes gleaming. He scooped up a handful of bubbles and held them up, his eyes narrowing but his mouth grinning handsomely.

Amara’s mouth dropped open. She squealed and ducked just Rafael threw the suds. They splashed onto the door behind her. Amara glanced back and laughed. She turned, and just as she made eye contact with Rafael a big glob of foam splashed onto her whole face.

She froze, surprised.

“Oh, no,” Rafael said. “I’m so sorry.” But he was laughing. It was a beautiful sound.

Amara laughed, too. “It’s okay.” She wiped some of the bubbles off, flinging them onto the ground. Luckily none had gotten into her eyes, or that would have been trouble for her contacts.

“Let me help you with that.” Rafael stepped closer and wiped more of the suds from her eyes to her jawline. His hands lingered near her cheeks, almost cupping her face.

Amara’s breath caught and they stared into each other’s eyes. Swallowing, she reached up and wiped some soap from his stubble.

Neither spoke, and Amara’s heart pounded so loudly she thought it would explode out of her chest.

Rafael leaned closer—so close she could smell mint on his breath. Her eyes widened, her skin on fire. He paused, still staring into her eyes.

Is it a kiss or miss? Leave a comment below for your chance to win a free ebook from the series!

AND go to STOP 3 Right HERE!!!

You can read Seaside Kisses for free here: https://www.instafreebie.com/free/jRQjr

About the Author

profile-medUSA Today bestselling author Stacy Claflin entertains readers in a variety of genres, from paranormal to suspense to sweet contemporary romance. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, and as a child would often get into trouble trying to convince friends her wild tales were true. Now she puts her creativity to better use by writing page-turning books that leave readers begging for more. Join Stacy’s newsletter to receive three free novels and new release updates.

Join Stacy’s newsletter to get three free novels. Click the link and register on the next page to get your books right away: http://stacyclaflin.com/newsletter

The Unimaginable – grace in Hamilton

So….

imagesMy 15-year-old music loving girl has become quite passionate about this not-so-new phenomenon of Hamilton, the musical. To say this will help her in American History class is an understatement because…she not only as the whole thing memorized, she’s started researching information around the history of the revolution just to check on her ‘friends’ in the musical 🙂

As an author, I appreciate Lin-Manuel Miranda’s story structure and the repeated themes he places in this musical. It’s clear he put a lot of effort in making this cohesive, providing characterization, giving a recurring set of ‘musical themes’, and including a lot of historical accuracy too.

I’m not a big fan of rap, but story?

Yep, I love a good story.

This one is good in the ‘realistic’ way stories happen but also in an amazing element of character arc seen in Alexander Hamilton’s apparent change through great tragedy, some of his own making.

As a warning, I would not recommend this to those who are sensitive to foul language, because it has some – and if you’re not into certain types of music you may not enjoy it either, but as a story, I really found in interesting…and sad.

One of the most powerful parts of the musical for me is the song It’s Quiet Uptown. I can’t make it through that song without crying, particularly  in one spot.

On the word “Forgiveness”

Now, I’m not going to go into detail about what had to be forgiven and all, but the way Lin-Manuel Miranda placed this particular word in the musical setting/story, brings out the power of this one word.

At one point in the song, Angelica (Eliza Hamilton’s sister) sings “there’s a grace too powerful to name….” referring to the grace to forgiven the ‘unimaginable’.

The musical setting brings me to tears, but even more than that, I am reminded of a grace that is powerful but HAS a name in Jesus Christ.

I think we are moved by Eliza Hamilton’s forgiveness of her husband’s many sins toward her because at the core of who we are we find a love like that ‘unimaginable’ 🙂 And yet, God, in his mercy, imagined it up for us and provided it.

Even now, I’m moved to tears reflecting on the powerful grace shown to me…to God’s kids, by a love too powerful to understand in all of its complexity, strength, and sacrifice.

From all accounts I can find, Eliza Hamilton was a devoted Christian. Perhaps she was able to forgive the ‘unimaginable’ because the ‘unimaginable’ had been forgiven in her.

In the end of Hamilton, love wins.

Because of Christ, in the end…love wins.

Daniel 9:9 – The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. 

Eph 4:32 – Be kind to one another, forgiving each other just as God in Christ forgave you. (not because we deserved it, but because of His great love)

Rom 5:8 – But God showed his love for us in this that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.