Inspiration – It comes on Four Legs by Patricia Yager Delagrange – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Patricia Yager Delagrange who is visiting with us today to celebrate yesterday’s release of Maddy’s Phoenix. Leave a comment or ask the author a question by Friday, August 11, to be one of two readers to win a free print or eBook of Maddy’s Phoenix (winner’s choice). Patricia will announce the winner in comments on Saturday, August 12.

Inspiration—It Comes on Four Legs
by Patricia Yager Delagrange
I have two chocolate Labradors: Annabella and her son, Jack. Jack and I have a special bond; he’s my baby. He was born with a long-undiagnosed condition with a name my young daughter loved to tell anyone who would listen to her say it, over and over: cranial mandibular osteopathy. Jack’s head was literally expanding and contracting, making one eye close shut. Hence the nickname, One-Eyed Jack.

Jack was in a lot of pain, and before the vets arrived at their “ah-ha” moment, my husband suggested we put him to sleep. I said no—not until I had a diagnosis and if there was no cure. Long story short, we learned it’s a self-limiting condition, which stopped after two months, leaving Jack with a golf ball-size lump of bone under his chin. A totally cosmetic problem he can live with.

So Jack became a happy little Labrador, and we developed a very special bond during his struggles. I have difficulty writing without him plastered to the left side of my leg while I sit on the couch, working on my books. Knowing he wants to be that close makes me happy. It lifts my spirits that he’s alive, snoring comfortably cuddled next to me. I reach over, stroke his silky smooth ears, and it relaxes me. I hold his paw, which is like grasping that of a small lion’s since he weighs 105 pounds.

I need peace and quiet while writing. No music. No television. No beeping cars. And with Jack by my side, I get that. I feel the quiet. I can write.

Jack inspires me to figure out the problems my characters face and how they struggle to overcome them and find romance. Similar to the outcome of Jack’s health crisis, my characters must have their happy endings, too.

Another big boy helps me with my writing—my Friesian horse, Maximus. This 1,425-pound guy lives in a huge stall with a million dollar view of the tall trees and thick, green foliage in the rolling Oakland hills a short drive from my home on Alameda Island. Our routine is almost sacred. I groom him, brush his jet-black forelock that hangs past his dark chocolate eyes, swing the small English saddle over his back, tighten the girth around his extra-large tummy, and jump on his back.

On our favorite trail, dense, overhanging trees form a magnificent tunnel along a meandering path. My peaceful place, the perfect venue for working on my plot and characters. No interruptions. I don’t even take my cell phone when I ride him. Just the chirping of hidden birds, the tramping of the occasional hiker with an unleashed dog. And always the greeting, “Is that a Clydesdale?” To which I answer, “No, sir. Maximus is about a thousand pounds shy of being a Clydesdale.” Too, his long, regal neck and Spock-like ears distinguish him from the Budweiser commercial stars.

When I ride Maximus, I drift into my writing zone. No need for a computer. My state of mind in the woods on his regal back is perfect for figuring out how I’m going to solve my characters’ problems. How I’ll help them find their happy ending.

I recall a time when I was in the early stages of writing my August 8 release, MADDY’S PHOENIX. I’d been pondering a plot problem in the beginning of the story, so off I went to ride Maximus. On the trail, he pulled one of his shenanigans and coaxed out of me the direction the plot should take. He loves to raise his hoof and splash water, so I let him walk through a huge puddle. On his back, I’m usually safe from the muddy spray he creates, but this time he decided to lie down and roll in the puddle. All horses roll. It’s their comfort thing. But this is a dangerous situation for the rider, so I quickly pulled him up, and we continued on our merry way.

But that little scenario triggered a thought in my mind. How was I going to pull Maddy out of her dilemma, out of her mud puddle? The struggling waitress has just discovered a baby in a dumpster behind the café where she works. A few days ago she miscarried a second time, and she desperately wants to keep this precious, discarded infant, whom she names Judith. But how can she keep little Judith without going to jail?

Amazingly, the solution popped right into my mind. Maddy had to leave the little town of Monte Rio in northern California on the Russian River and go to a place where no one knows her. Where she—and Judith—can begin a new life without fear of discovery. I thought, Oakland. That’s where she would go. Problem solved. Thanks, Maximus!

So my beautiful fur-legged family members are not only loving companions, they inspire me and even help me with plot problems. Do these beautiful creatures sense I need a nudge, a little help here and there? Who knows?

Tell me about the four-legged members of your family and how their unconditional love helps you. Two Long and Short Reviews readers who comment below by Friday, August 11, 2017 will win a print or digital copy of MADDY’S PHOENIX—their choice!

Maddy McCray lives a hard scrabble life, working as a waitress at the Monte Rio Café in a little town on California’s Russian River. Abandoned by her mother when she was a teenager, then by her two worthless boyfriends, she is nonetheless grateful for the rustic cabin where she lives—and for Cheryl, the older and wiser waitress who watches over her while Maddy anticipates the birth of her baby.

Then one night Maddy goes into labor prematurely and loses her precious baby. The loss is almost more than the distraught 22-year-old can bear. A few days later she discovers a tiny infant in a dumpster behind the café. An abandoned baby, a baby no one wants, a baby who will wind up in a string of foster homes. But Maddy wants the baby. She names her Judith.

Maddy resolves to take the money in her tip jar and move to the Bay Area, where she can get a better-paying job and study to become a nurse, to be better than the things her momma said about her. But how can Maddy take care of little Judith, work and go to school? Help comes from Cheryl, who helps Maddy move to the Oakland area, where the young mother goes to school—and meets a man on the college campus, who sees something special in her. But can she trust her heart again?

About the Author: Fascinated by broken-hearted couples and atypical families, Patricia Yager Delagange weaves engaging tales of men and women who create cohesive families where love reigns supreme. She sprinkles her books with intriguing characters who struggle to find balance in life after tragedy. Whether an unwed teenager, desperate widow, abandoned father, or a couple who stray from their marital vows, her characters form relationships impacted by their desire to create a family.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, Patricia attended St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California, where she studied Psychology and Spanish. She spent her junior year abroad at the University of Madrid studying Spanish, then transferred to UC Santa Barbara, where she received her B.A. in Spanish. She went on to get a Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University.

Patricia lives with her husband and two children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with two very large chocolate and a rescue terrier mix. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, Patricia enjoys riding her Friesian horse Maximus, who lives in the Oakland hills with a million dollar view.

Website | Facebook
Buy the book at Amazon.

Anniversary Blog Fest: Patricia Yager Delangrange

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Our Summer Vacation

There are many reasons for taking a summer vacation – to relax, to enjoy a new environment, to take a break from the routine, to have fun, to spend time with loved ones.

For the first time in years our family drove only an hour-and-a-half from the San Francisco Bay Area to the small town of Guerneville and rented a gorgeous house on the Russian River. We were able to get away from home, relax, and have fun. And, it was a break from our routine.

But inherent in “taking a vacation” is that the place should be somewhere you “leave the stress behind”. Well, sometimes that’s not how it is. But you knew that was coming, right? I wasn’t going to regale you with what we did and post pictures of the house and my kids in swim suits.

Our 17-year-old son spent a majority of the time in his room upstairs (the media room), watching the sports channel. When his friends arrived, they ensconced themselves in the “media room” and watched movies like “Teeth” (which I found out later when I looked through the DVR), stayed up very late, ate most of the food we’d spent a gazillion dollars on, and generally didn’t have much to do with the “rest of us”.

We soon realized that our two chocolate labs could walk along the edge of the river to the neighbors’ houses, climb through their yards, and exit into the street. Luckily they aren’t as adventurous as the three animals in “Homeward Bound”!

I usually ride my bike every day, so I thought it would be a great place to cruise around. I peddled five houses to the right and reached the end of the cul de sac. If I went to the left, I hit a very nice mobile home park with a “Keep Out” sign nailed prominently at the entrance. I tried going down the next street which allowed me to ride a couple of blocks until the road ended in a jumble of trees and bushes with a tiny path that also told me to “Keep Out, Private Property”. Backtracking, I took the only remaining alternative – a road that led up to the highway. Cars were zipping by at freeway speeds and I quickly knew that wasn’t the “peaceful” way to go.

I returned to the huge back deck of our rental home to “ohm” my way to de-stressification, only to be asked if I’d like to dye my daughter’s hair black which was best done on the deck so as not to get any of the color on the bathroom floor. After that she asked me to take her and her girlfriend to town to walk through the shops.

I’ve always thought of vacation time as a huge deterrent to doing what you “usually do” when at home. When I looked around and saw all of us sitting in the comfortable front room with our laptops laying across our legs, iPods in hand while texting, I knew something was awry.

The next vacation we take is going to be different. We’re driving six hours from home, renting a house on the beach, I’m leaving my MacBook in the bedroom to check once a day, and my iPhone will be stuck in my purse for emergencies. I’m going to take long walks on the beach with my dogs, hoping they remember how to swim and don’t drown in the surf. Rincon Point IS a world famous surfer hangout. Hmmm…

About the Author:

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I attended St. Mary’s College, studied my junior year at the University of Madrid, received my B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get a Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. I live with my husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with our two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack. My Friesian horse Maximus lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.

Find the author online at:

Twitter: @Patti Yager

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.delagrange

Website: http://www.patriciayagerdelagrange.com

Blog: http://www.patriciayagerdelagrange.com

GUEST BLOG: PATRICIA YAGER DELAGRANGE

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Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for an ebook copy of Moon Over Alcatraz.

Top 5 Items on Patricia Yager Delagrange’s Bucket List

Number one would have to be finding an agent to represent me and my books. I started writing in 2009 and I know that it’s very, very difficult to find an agent to represent you right now. Agents don’t want to take a chance on a new writer but would rather stick with a “tried and true” author who has an established fan base and has sold a ton of books. But I will not stop sending out query letters and perhaps one day someone will trust my talent enough to offer me a contract.

Number two would be going on a vacation around Martha’s Vineyard. For as long as I can remember, I have been intrigued by that area of the United States and I love reading stories that take place there. I love the beach and have lived on the coast of California my entire life, except for the two years I lived in Corvallis, Oregon, while working for my Master’s degree at Oregon State University. During those two years I could probably count on one hand how many days were not rainy and/or depressingly overcast. Plus I felt claustrophobic living that far inland. It was about thirty minutes to the coast and I felt too landlocked living in Corvallis.

Number three would be (maybe) parachuting out of an airplane. I wanted to do this before I had kids. Then I changed my mind because I didn’t want to take the chance of leaving them without a mother. But now that they’re 18 and 13, maybe someday down the road I’ll try it.

Number four would be seeing how it would feel to take a horse over a few jumps. I own a big, full-bodied almost-draft Friesian horse who would never jump a rail unless he thought a lion was going to eat him. So, I probably couldn’t do it with my own horse. But I’d love to see how it feels do jump over a rail on a horse. I get a thrill every time I ride my horse Maximus. Working with a 1,425-pound animal can be scary yet exciting at the same time.

Number five would be taking a slow, lazy ride on an old-fashioned paddlewheel boat down a river. I don’t like boats that go on the ocean because the waves make me sick. However, I think it might be fun to take a leisurely ride down the river on a boat powered solely by a paddlewheel. I think they might have had one, or still have one, at Disneyland in Southern California that I took a ride on as a kid. But I’m not sure if there are any left.

About the Author:

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I attended St. Mary’s College, studied my junior year at the University of Madrid, received my B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get my Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. I live with my husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with our two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack.

My horse lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.

Take a look at the video of Moon Over Alcatraz:

Brandy Chambers was looking forward to the birth of her first child. She and Weston move from San Francisco to the small town of Alameda to start a family, she’s writing her second book, and Weston has a fantastic job working on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge project. Having this baby would make her already-wonderful life perfect.

But when the baby dies after a difficult birth, Brandy’s perfect life blows up in her face. Stricken with grief, she and Weston pull apart. This new distance leads them both to disaster. Not until a chance encounter with her high school friend, Edward Barnes, does Brandy pull herself together. Brandy and Weston agree to recommit to each other, striving to forgive infidelity and recreate their previous existence.

Everything is once again going according to plan–until Brandy discovers she’s pregnant. While she struggles to cope with this new obstacle, Edward Barnes returns to town and discovers she’s having a baby, while Weston is torn between his love for his wife and his anger at her betrayal. Can Brandy manage to keep her marriage to Weston together? Will Edward be a part of Brandy’s life if she and Weston separate?

Buy the book at:

MUSA: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=150

AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Moon-Over-Alcatraz-ebook/dp/B006UJEE3E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327940072&sr=1-1

BARNES & NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moon-over-alcatraz-patricia-yager-delagrange/1108112331?ean=2940032996682&itm=1&usri=moon+over+alcatraz

GUEST BLOG and Giveaway: Patricia Yager Delagrange

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This post is part of a Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during her tour. Click on the tour banner to see the rest of her stops and go comment…remember, the more you comment, the better your chances!

Five Things My Heroine Taught Me
by
Patricia Yager Delagrange

In my book, Moon Over Alcatraz, the main character is Brandy. She loses her baby at birth and falls into a deep depression. Five things I’ve learned from her are:

1. When you’re feeling so low that you cannot imagine things changing or ever getting better, believe in yourself. Know that you’re strong enough to get through anything. It’s all in your attitude.

2. Don’t blame yourself for things that happen that are out of your control. We cannot always explain why something terrible happens to us, like losing your baby. But, as you can see in the movie Forrest Gump when Jenny’s left him and Forrest is so in love with her and wants to marry her, he literally runs across the U.S. and back. During his journey he discovers that “**it happens”. There’s nothing we can do but keep going forward.

3. If someone lets you down (and in Brandy’s case, it’s her husband Weston), know there are others out there who will help you through tough times. Brandy had her closest friend and next-door neighbor, Cecilia, who always gave her good advice and had her back through the thick of it.

4. Stick to your beliefs. They will keep you on track through the worst times of your life. Brandy believes in “kharma” — what goes around, comes around. She always tried to be the best person she could be, and when she messed up, she tried to get back on track and be a better person, learning from her mistakes.

5. First, trust in yourself, then you’ll have the strength to trust in others. Brandy had to find her inner strength in order to extricate herself from a bad marriage. Her high school friend, Edward, helped her see that she could trust him, but that only happened after she started trusting herself.

About the Author:

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I attended St. Mary’s College, studied my junior year at the University of Madrid, received my B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get my Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. I live with my husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with our two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack.

My horse lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.

Find the author online:

http://www.patriciayagerdelagrange.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Patricia-Yager-Delagrange/204510679568596

http://twitter.com/#!/PattiYager

Following the death of their baby during a difficult birth, Brandy and Weston Chambers are grief-stricken and withdraw from each other, both seeking solace outside of their marriage; however, they vow to work through their painful disloyalty. But when the man Brandy slept with moves back to their hometown, three lives are forever changed by his return..