Those looking for an emotionally intense read requiring tissues will get exactly what they need with Heart of the Ozarks by LeeAnn Sontheimer-Murphy. When your family is lost, is it possible to find love again? That's just one of the emotional events in this steamy contemporary read. Join me today as we get a glimpse into this book through excerpts and an author interview, along with the chance at winning some great goodies. So keep reading to find out all about this contemporary read full of emotional highs and lows.....
TSP: How did you get where you are today with your writing career and would you have done anything differently?
LSM: I reached this stage with years of hard work, perseverance, and a stubborn refusal to give up or quit. If I did anything at all differently, I would have made up my mind to get totally serious about writing novels much sooner instead of waiting until I had twin toddlers underfoot.
TSP: What's an average writing day like for you and are there any inspirational objects surrounding you as you write?
LSM: An average writing day would be – Get up early before the kids, check emails, do blog posts, get my to-do list set up for the day. Feed kids, send them to school and spend the morning writing unless I have errands that can’t wait. Work in the afternoon if possible until about three, then shift over to “Mom” mode to fix dinner, meet the kids after school, hear about my husband’s day. In the evenings, if I have a heavy work load, I may write for another hour after supper is over, then unwind and relax.
In my writing area I have all kinds of things that inspire me – everything from pictures, posters, dozens of books, an elephant (I collect them) and little things my kids have made.
TSP: What do you want us to know about your book, Heart of the Ozarks? Did you have any particular actor/actresses in mind when visualizing Maggie and Cole?
LSM: I’d like readers to know I’ve done my best to paint an accurate image of the Ozarks, the region where I live. I’m not native to these hills but I love the area and there’s so much more depth here than depicted in some media portrayals (like The Beverly Hillbillies for instance).
TSP: Do you yourself believe you can find true love a second time after creating and losing a family?
LSM: Yes, I do. My grandparents helped raise me and before I began school, I spent most of my waking hours at their house. They were both strong people who survived tragedy and they taught me by example when life knocks you flat, you pick yourself up, brush off the dirt, wipe off the blood and keep going.
TSP: Are there any themes/genres you'd like to try your writing hand at that you haven't yet and what do you definitely have planned next?
LSM: I’d like to try some speculative fiction, step outside the romance box sometime.
I have another historical coming up from Rebel Ink Press on September 17th, Dust Bowl Dreams, a series of connected stories in October, again from Rebel Ink, Kosovo Tales: Two Hearts, One Love, a short from Evernight Publishing, part of their new Romance On The Go Line, An Emerald Heart, and in November, a contemporary romance from Rebel, Devlin’s Grace. I also have a few things lined up for 2013 and I hope to have many more!
TSP: How has the digital revolution affected your career and how you market yourself? Do you yourself have an eReader and where do you see publishing heading?
LSM: I think the digital revolution offers amazing opportunities for authors. It changes how we interact with readers and the world around us. Before, readers often knew little about their favorite authors but now it’s possible to follow authors, to know more about their life. For me, it means I have to share a little more personal information because I’ve found readers like to hear about my life. I do have an e-reader and I love it but there are still times I read actual books too. But I love being able to stick my reader in my purse and take it anywhere with many titles. I think publishing is still in transition but within a few years, I believe there will be more ebooks than print. I feel print will become more POD. I already see ebooks debut ahead of the print edition and one of my titles for next year is set up to do just that.
TSP: My site is all about favorite things, what are some of your favorite things/the things you can't live without?
LSM: I must have books – if I don’t have something to read I’d go crazy. I need my family, the whole multi-generational broad group scattered across the globe. Thanks to social media, I can interact with them daily.
Heart of the Ozarks by LeeAnn Sontheimer-Murphy
After St. Louis TV weathercaster Cole Celinksi loses his almost estranged wife and three children in a car crash, his boss orders him to take a leave of absence. Against his will, Cole leaves the city in late May to find the rest and relaxation everyone else thinks he needs. Without anywhere else to go, Cole heads for Lake Dreams, a resort on the quiet side of Lake Taneycomo in the Ozarks he visited each summer as a child with his grandparents. Some of his best memories were made in the lakeside vacation haven with his summer friend, Maggie.
Upon his arrival, Cole learns Maggie now runs the place. Twenty years have passed but from the minute he returns, they reconnect and soon their mutual attraction ignites. He fishes in the lake, takes Maggie to visit some of the places he remembers and begins to find out who he truly is. Before he can heal, he must learn to deal with his loss and to see if he can create a new family with Maggie and her children. It’s a task he’s not sure he can handle but if he wants to be with Maggie, he must. A near tragedy brings them all together into a close knit unit and afterward, Cole may be able to make his dreams reality.
Cole’d almost forgotten how pleasant kissing a woman he cared about could be until he kissed Maggie.
Her lips yielded to his unexpected kiss, warm and silky beneath his mouth. Something sparked between them, old and familiar but new too. The kiss kindled desire, his want surging strong and rich through Cole’s body and with it, he felt renewed. Fiery electricity danced through his nervous system, tingling and reviving him. When Maggie touched him and placed her hands on his body she stirred the embers almost faded in the ashes of his soul. His living force within soared, catching fire with a whoosh rocketing from his feet to his head.
Cole didn’t think, just experienced. He inhaled the essence of her shampoo, caught a whiff of her perfume, and tasted lingering coffee on her lips. Her slender body shifted so she stood so close a thin sheet of paper couldn’t pass between them and warmth filled the space. His years, the months of tragic induced agony, the maturity of his third decade, more than halfway to his fourth melted like candy in the rain until Cole felt the wild, heady intoxication of youth. A carnal yearning rose in him like a wild animal’s need to mate and yet something else tempered, a caring sense of connection. He wanted to ravish her and yet nurture her, all at once. He ached to use her like a whore and own her but deeper, Cole longed to become one with her, to twine not just bodies but merge souls.
He deepened the kiss until his tongue worked into her mouth and Maggie moved the rest of the way until her breasts rubbed his chest. She made a soft little mew of pleasure and he knew he could have her, take her there on the living room couch, her body supported against the pillows she’d chosen at Wal-Mart or JC Penney’s. He didn’t doubt it and because he knew, he didn’t. Cole let the kiss wind down, slow and easy. He allowed one of his hands to crawl from her back to fondle her full breasts with a gentle caress. He almost lost control again when she arched her back like a satisfied kitten but he eased back to normal, his breath a little quick and grinned at her. Maggie smiled back with an unfocused gaze. She looked the way he felt when he came out of a movie he’d really gotten involved with, dreamy until he walked into the sunlight and a jolt of reality.
“Oh, Cole,” she breathed, her tone filled with appreciation and what he thought might be affection.
“I guess you liked it,” he said, without planning. “I’m glad. I thought you might slap my face for that.”
Maggie laughed with a musical quality so sweet it ramped up his blood pressure a few notches. “I wouldn’t,” she told him, “But, oh, Cole.”
She shook her head and her hair floated around her shoulders in a cloud. “I’ve been ready for you to kiss me again for twenty years but I don’t know if you are.”
His scarred heart skipped a beat. Hell, he wasn’t sure either but he wanted to be and just that alone equaled a miracle. “If you’d asked me a week ago,” he said, “I’d have said no way. Yesterday I’d thought maybe in a distant future.”
“What about now?”
“I don’t know,” he said, “But I want to find out.”
She’d always been mercurial, a creature of many moods and faces so he wasn’t surprised when she put her hands against his chest and said, eyes smoldering, “Kiss me again and see what happens.”
Cole almost did but rational thought stayed him. “If I do,” he told her, without any bullshit, “I won’t be able to stop this time at just a kiss.”
Maggie’s eyes met his and hers were filled with the naked yearning of a hungry bird and the innocent trust of a pet bunny rabbit. “I don’t care, Cole. I want you.”
Everything he longed for in this moment she offered but he shook his head. “I want you, Maggie, in every way a man can want a woman but it’s not the right time. If we do this now, it’ll end up bad. You’re vulnerable and the last thing I want to do is hurt you, honey.”
“I might without meaning to do it,” he said, his voice husky with emotion. “We’ve brought something to life so let’s don’t ruin it before it has time to grow. We’ll be together when its right, I promise.”
Tears shimmered in her eyes and he thought she’d cry but Maggie didn’t. She nodded and put her fingers against his cheek. “You’re being sensible, I guess, Cole. Just tell me it’ll be soon.”
“God, yes,” he said with feeling, enough she laughed.
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Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a full-time romance author. A native of the old historic city of St. Joseph, Missouri, one time home to both Jesse James and the Pony Express, she now lives and writes in the beautiful Missouri Ozark region. Her romance novels include Love Never Fails, Witness Protection Program, Sing We Now of Christmas, A Patient Heart, In Love’s Own Time, Miss Good Samaritan, In The Shadow of War, Guy’s Angel, and Heart of the Ozarks, all from Rebel Ink Press. She also has six other novels and several novellas available. Her work also appears in more than twenty anthologies and she has multiple short story/non-fiction credits.
She is a member of RWA, Missouri Writers Guild, EPIC, and the Ozarks Writers League. Her work also appears in multiple anthologies. She earned a BA degree in both English and History from Missouri Southern State University as well as an AA Degree in Journalism from Crowder College. She worked in broadcast media for a decade and also has a background in education. Her weekly column “Hindsight” appears each week in the Neosho Daily News.
She is married to Roy W. Murphy and the couple has three children, Emily, Megan, and Patrick Murphy.
If Lee Ann – or Lee as many of her writing friends know her – isn’t writing, she’s reading or spending time outdoors.
In Neosho, Missouri, the small town she now calls home, she serves on the local library board, is active in the annual Relay For Life fight against cancer, has worked with the local Arts Council, and is active in her parish.
A Page In The Life: http://leeannsontheimermurphywriterauthor.blogspot.com
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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1