About Me

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Welcome to Heartstrings.Thanks for stopping by. I am a mother, a grandmother, and an author of historical western romance and contemporary romantic fiction. Ethan's Heart, book one of The Blackwood Brothers' series won the 2017 Maggie Award for Excellence. Book two, Escorting Darby Bloom, features Blackwood brother Isaac and will be released in December 2017. Stay tuned for more books in this series. If contemporaries are more your thing, check out Carly's Rule and Dusty's Fate. They are both Amazon Best-Sellers.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ancient City Romance Authors (ACRA) held its annual writers' conference September 26-27, 2014. Here are some highlights of the conference held at The Hampton at St. Augustine Beach, FL. 
Danielle Childers, Marketing Director for BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books/Imajinn

Best-Selling Author Heather Graham
Best-Selling Author Elizabeth Sinclair

Author Summer Stephens and CEO/Editor at Salt Run Publishing, LLC

JSO Officer Tommy Herrington

ACRA members Cheryl Norman and Tmonique Stephens at the REGISTRATION table, both in their Superpower shirts! They are Romance Writers. What's Your superpower?

Friday night, Kellie Sharpe of Salt Run Publishing, LLC. held a launch party for Big Hair & Flying Cows by Dolores Wilson. This is a re-launch of her southern humor series held in the fictional town of Sweet Meadow, GA.

Of course, whenever there is anything that involves Bertie Byrd, the female tow truck driver, there is bound to be a mishap or an almost mishap, which is what nearly happened with this beautiful cake, as it slid from the bottom of the grocery buggy onto the wet pavement at Publix. Due to the quick thinking and shrieking of ACRA member, Glo Ferguson, it was saved. 
From left to right Anne Martin Fletcher, Glo Ferguson, and Gloria Marlow.
 Janie Dean in the conference room.

Judith Leigh and Cheryl Norman

ACRA Bookstore 

Author Tmonique Stephens

  Authors Skye Taylor and Dolores Wilson at the book signing.
Skye is signing her books Falling For Zoe and Loving Meg.
Dolores is signing a copy of Big Hair and Flying Cows. She also has Dixie Cowboy, Flight to Freedom and Little Big Heart.
Authors Tmonique Stephens and Karen Hudgins at the Registration desk.

From left to right Caro Carson, Heather Graham, and Anne Martin Fletcher
New friends Anne Martin Fletcher and Caro Carson. 
Caro writes, "It was the first time in my entire life I've ever run into another female service academy graduate outside of a specific military or veteran event. I just sat next to this woman in the hotel's meeting room, and about an hour later, we figured out she was US Air Force Academy Class of 80, while I'm West Point (US Military Academy) Class of 89. We decided to kick off our shoes and go check out Saint Augustine Beach. I love this photo because we look like old friends instead of people who'd just met a few hours before! Beat Navy!"

 Author and Pop Culture Diva, Sharon Drane signing a copy of her debut book, Touch the Sky.
Inspirational author and ACRA member Betty Johnston.
Author Elaine Calloway signing her Elemental Clan Series.
Salt Run Publishing Authors from left to right Dolores Wilson, Gloria Davidson Marlow, Summer Stephens, Elizabeth Sinclair, and Sharon Drane.

Attendees and authors Beth Treadway and Pamela Varnado

Pamela Varnado

Beth Treadway

Author Gloria Davidson Marlow
Author and workshop speaker Heather Graham with author Kathryn J. Bain

Vickie King (facebook page link) signing Carly's Rule and Dusty's Fate. Carly's Rule is the 2nd Place Winner of 2014 Heart of Excellence Readers' Choice Award.

Danielle Childers, Keynote speaker and Marketing Director for BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books
Best-selling author Heather Graham teaching a workshop.
Attendee Cheryl Brooks wins author Sharon Drane's basket.

At the end of the conference, donated baskets, critiques from authors, agents, and editors are raffled off. A portion of the proceeds from the raffle go to Tommy's Kids. JSO Officer Tommy Herrington delivers presents to children at Christmas in Jacksonville.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Heartstrings welcomes Skye Taylor, author of Falling For Zoe.

The contest is now closed. Congratulations to Sharon Drane for winning the $25.00 gift certificate to Amazon!

Welcome to Heartstrings Skye, and thank you for blogging here today. I want to congratulate you on the April release of your contemporary romance, Falling for Zoe. I've  heard great things about it. 

Vickie: I love the name of the town, Tide's Way, where your story is set. Is this a fictional town in North Carolina?

Skye: It's a fictional town, complete with a whole cast of fictional characters. But I know where it is, and I've been there. I chatted with some of the folk who live along that beguiling stretch of coastal North Carolina, visited downtown Wilmington, which is not far away, and found inspiration for some of the places and people that inhabit Tide's Way.

Vickie: What was the reason for setting the story in North Carolina?

Skye: Setting is always an important part of the book, whether it's a place in time or geography. None of the stories I've written have ever been set in a place I have not visited, even if it's a whole different century. I always want to love the place my books are set and coastal North Carolina is one of my favorite places, so it was on the short list. In Falling For Zoe, there is a hurricane churning up the coast, and that was the deciding factor for this first book in the series. But now I have this wonderful little town of Tide's Way and a whole cast of characters I love, who all have stories of their own begging to be told.

Vickie: While reading the "From the Author" section on Amazon, I see you have created a history for the Camerons going back to when their ancestors came from Scotland. Does knowing the roots of the family help you develop your characters?

Skye: Absolutely. We are all products of where we've come from, geographically, historically, socially, and emotionally. The Camerons of Tide's Way are no different. They didn't grown up in big cities or urban environments, didn't go to Ivy League schools or get born into money and that heritage shows in their lifestyles, their priorities, and their dreams for the future. They come of patriotic stock and many of them have served in the military. All of them give back to the community they feel so much a part of. And then there's that old writer's dictum, Write what you know. This is my heritage. Middle class, European descent, some of my ancestors participated in the Revolutionary War and one was even President. It's how I grew up and how my parents and my children grew up.

Vickie: Since you give your characters an in depth history, does this mean you plot your stories? If yes, do you have a plotting system?

Skye: I am most definitely a Pantser! My stories are sparked by an idea--they come from all sorts of places and for many different reasons, but once I know the beginning, I create my characters. I usually spend several days just writing backstory, starting when they were born or at least when they were young. My writing style for these backstories is more or less told the way I'd tell it if I were sitting with you over coffee and telling you all about this person I've known all my life. Sometimes going back to pick up an important incident or characteristic, but just sort of free hand, telling their life story. When I'm done, I usually have a dozen or more single-spaced, unedited pages, and I really know that character well. 

From time to time I might tweak something if I see the need, but for the most part, this character has become real to me with a life, loves and dreams that need telling. Then I plop my characters down into the opening scene, and I let them tell their story. It's sort of like hanging on to a tiger by the tail sometimes. They argue with me and do things I had no idea they were going to do. I generally have a very clear idea of where they are going to end up before I begin, but that's as much of a plot as I have.

Vickie: Now, for a few personal questions. What are your hobbies?

Skye: Well, obviously one of my favorite hobbies is writing stories. I talk a lot in real life, too. Just ask anyone who knows me. Even my emails are generally long and chatty. I also love the ocean, the beach, sailing, swimming, biking, hiking, reading--definitely reading--and sewing.

Vickie: Name three things you can't live without.

Skye: Chocolate, chocolate, and chocolate! Okay, seriously? Love and family, sunshine and warmth, and an ever-growing pile of books to be read.

Vickie: Do you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share with your readers?

Skye: There are dozens of recipes I love, but here's one you might find handy. When I was in the Peace Corps, many (perhaps most) of the food supplies I was accustomed to were not to be had, but flour was always available, so I started making Scones. My kids would mail me packages with dried fruits that I could add for variety, and I could always toss in mangos, pineapple, or banana. I didn't have the recipe to start with and had to figure it out by trial and error. This is what I came up with:

2 cups of flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/3 cup of sugar (this can be left out if adding savory flavors)
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 egg

That's the basic recipe. If I add dried fruit, I boil them for a bit in the water and add all at once. If I add fresh or frozen fruit, I decrease the water accordingly and add the fruit last. The consistency is about the same as cookie dough.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. Bottoms should just be turning brown.

One of my favorite things to add now that I am home with an endless array of choices, is a cup of fresh picked wild blueberries (store bought has too little flavor) or a cup of raspberries, fresh or frozen, and 3/4 cup of white chocolate bits. YUM! Another favorite is to add a tsp of almond flavoring and then sprinkle slivered almonds over the top of the batter before baking.

Vickie: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?  

Skye: My sister and I were in Scotland, in Iverness at the time they hold the annual Gaelic festival, and we were invited to join some of the locals at a pub where they were celebrating the last day of the Mod (the name of the festival). We donned our party clothes, which was dress down--to jeans and sweaters, told the desk clerk where we were headed and set off. We were welcomed with warmth and great cheer, plied with who knows how many drinks and taught how to dance one of the many reels they were engaging in. But by 4:00 am we were exhausted, although the Scots of all ages seemed ready to party on indefinitely. We made our precarious way across the suspended pedestrian bridge of the River Ness. How much of the staggering was the drink and how much the bridge is debatable. But then we arrived at our hotel only to find the place locked up tight. 

Thinking maybe our room key would open another less obvious door, as is often the case with a bed and breakfast, I circled the hotel to check. No doors, but there was a nice round hole in a window at ankle height. I reached in and discovered the window was unlocked. My sister scrambled through the narrow opening and found ourselves on the dishwasher chute. Pitch black, couldn't see a thing, we kept our hands on the walls as we made our way around the kitchen looking for a way into the hall. Then booked it to our room, slammed the door behind us, with our hearts racing at warp speed. All I could think of was that if we'd gotten caught, my mother would have been appalled to get a trans-Atlantic call to announce that her daughters were in Gaol in Iverness, and I'd never hear the end of it. By the way, I was in my thirties and surely beyond such antics.


Skye Taylor lives on a barrier island in northeast Florida where she divides her time between writing novels, walking the beach with her dog, MacDuff, and trying to keep her to-be-read pile from taking over her little bungalow. In a previous life, she raised four children, coached gymnastics, ran Christian Renewal retreats, and a dozen other things. She considers life an adventure and when her kids were all grown and on their own, she spent two years in the South Pacific with the Peace Corps (2002-2004). She's jumped out of perfectly good airplanes and earned a basic sky diving license. She enjoys dressing up in period costume and joining the many historical re-enactors who make the 17th and 18th centuries come alive in events that happen year round in her wonderful little city. She loves to travel and has visited twenty-eight states and fourteen countries on four continents and the South Pacific as well as frequent trips to visit her kids and grandkids. Having been born and lived most of her life in New England where her children grew up, she is now a transplanted Yankee soaking up the sun, warmth and history of St. Augustine, Florida. She's a member of Florida Writers Association, Romance Writers of America and Ancient City Romance Authors where she currently serves as secretary. Skye Taylor has published two books. WHATEVER IT TAKES came out in 2012 and FALLING FOR ZOE, book #1 in the Camerons of Tide’s Way series on April 4th of this year. She is currently working on the second book in the Camerons of Tide’s Way series, LOVING MEG, which will be out in 2015. 

Check out her website at: www.skye-writer.com.

Don't forget to leave a comment with your name and email address for the drawing!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Contest for Carly's Rule closed.

Want to win a $25.00 gift certificate to Amazon?
At then end of the author interview, you will find 6 chances to win!
Don't miss out and thanks for entering.

For Carly's Rule, click on the Amazon link.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Welcome Dolores Wilson
Southern Stories with Heart

Hi Dolores,

I'm so happy that you're blogging at Heartstrings today. Congratulations on the release of your Contemporary Romance, Dixie Cowboy.

Dolores: Thank you so much for allowing me to be here. I've been following your
Heartstrings Blog from the beginning. I love the questions you ask.

Vickie: I appreciate that. Dixie Cowboy is a sweet southern romance set on a guest ranch in Georgia. Have you ever been to a guest ranch or a dude ranch? 

Dolores: I've never had the privilege of staying on a dude ranch, but I have taken two day trips to Wyoming and Colorado. We rode a couple of stage coaches out where the buffalo roam. There a bunch (?) pack (?) herd (?) of great-looking cowboys rustled up steaks and fixings in a chuck wagon.

Vickie: Most of us have a favorite book, but I want to get specific and ask, what's your favorite romance book, and why did you choose that one?

Dolores: I've always been fond of the western romances. I'm not sure I can narrow it down to one. MONTANA WOMAN by Rosanne Bittner, THE WABASH SERIES by Dorothy Garlock, and anything Lavryle Spencer has ever written especially TWICE LOVED.

Vickie: I know that one of the things you love is to travel. Will you tell us a few of your favorite funny stories of your travels?

Dolores:  My Sweet Meadow Series (Bertie Byrd-Fortney) contains many of the true stories of my life. Because we were just visiting with friends and relaying humorous stories of staying in campgrounds, this story comes to mind.

Richard and I were on our way to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for a car show. We were pulling a VERY LONG trailer with two vehicles in it. We were to meet some friends at a certain campground halfway to the car show. It was late when we got there. Everyone was in bed. There were no pull-thru sites, so Richard had to back the trailer and motor home into a space. He gave me a flashlight and told me to watch him backup and shine the light into the driver's side mirror when he needed to stop. Of course, that meant I was standing in the dark, palmetto bush site.

As he got closer to where he would need to stop, I raised the flashlight and prepared to turn it on when it was time. All of a sudden, Richard slammed on the brakes, put the bus in park and came flying out the door. We had a short exchange which I don't think I'll repeat here, but the gist of logic was that he didn't want me to point the flashlight if I didn't intend to use it. He asked, "What if you were pointing it to tell him to stop, but it wouldn't come on?" The gist of my response was that I would like to make a suggestion as to where he could park the flashlight. To this day, I have never helped him park our vehicle.

Vickie: In your circle of friends and acquaintances, you're famous for your cooking. Do you have a favorite recipe, and will you share it with us?

Dolores: My favorite recipes change almost hourly. I love cooking for friends and family. Few things make me happier. There is a cake I've made several times in the past year. I didn't develop the recipe, but it is always a big hit.

Cream-Filled Strawberry-Brownie Cake


Brownie Layer

1 box (19.5 oz) Pillsbury® Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix

½ cup Crisco® Pure Vegetable Oil

¼ cup water

3 Eggs

Cake Layer
1 box (18.25 oz) Pillsbury® Strawberry Cake Mix
¾ cup water
1/3 cup Crisco® Pure Vegetable Oil
½ cup diced fresh strawberries

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
½ cup Butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Frosting and Garnish
1 container (16 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries*

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Line bottoms of pans with cooking parchment paper; spray paper with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir all brownie layer ingredients 50 strokes with spoon. Spread about 1 cup batter in each of 3 pans.
  • In large bowl, beat all cake layer ingredients except diced strawberries with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on high speed 2 minutes or until blended. Fold in diced strawberries. Pour and spread about 1 1/3 cups mixture evenly over brownie batter in each pan.
  • Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Carefully invert cake layers from pans onto cooling racks; remove parchment paper. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, to make filling, in medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with electric mixer on high speed until smooth and creamy. Beat in 3 cups powdered sugar until creamy. Carefully fold in 8 oz whipped topping.
  • To make frosting, in another medium bowl, beat 16 oz whipped topping and 2/3 cup powdered sugar with electric mixer on low speed until blended.
  • To assemble cake, place 1 cake layer, brownie side down, on serving plate. Spread half of filling to within 1/4 inch of edge; top with 3/4 cup of the strawberry slices. Repeat with second layer, remaining filling and 3/4 cup strawberry slices. Top with remaining cake layer, top side up. Frost sides and top of cake with frosting. Garnish with remaining 1 1/2 cups strawberry slices. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving. Store in refrigerator.
Vickie: I noticed there isn't any hot sauce in this recipe. Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe just a little wouldn't hurt. For those who don't know, Bell Bridge Books, Dolores' publisher, sent hot sauce with these labels especially made for Dixie Cowboy to Dolores because they wanted her to have a promotional item to give out until her book was released.

Vickie: Have you ever thought of writing a cookbook?

Dolores: Yes, I've thought a lot about writing a cookbook. Somehow, someway, I will eventually do that. I want to write a cookbook from Sweet Meadow First Baptist Church. Sweet Meadow is the town from my Bertie books. Recipes will be donated by the citizens who give Bertie a run for her money. I can't imagine what recipe Mavis and Millie and maybe Booger Baily would submit for the cookbook.

Vickie: What's next for you in your writing future?

Dolores: Right now, I have two things going on. I'm working on a cozy mystery, with the hope it becomes a series. There will be several elements in the book that I will have fun developing--Heroine is a middle-aged widow who comes to the Mississippi casino left behind when her grandfather passed away. Hero is the attorney who is an associate in a firm that has handled the casinos legalities for years. The main problem is her grandfather left 20% of the shares of the casino to the heroine, 40% to his wife of 60 years (heroine's grandmother), and 40% of the shares to the old man's mistress who has worked at the casino for 40 years. Oh, yeah, did I mention someone left the severed head of a woman in a toilet? Like I said, I'm having fun, fun, fun.

The second thing is one of the most exciting things I've had happen in a long while. Salt Run Publishing will be re-releasing all three Bertie books at the end of summer. I've added 7,000 more words to the original Big Hair and Flying Cows, as well as a new character. If all goes well, I hope to do a 4th Bertie book in the near future. I'll keep you posted as to an official release date.


In the meantime, I am running a contest on my website. Here are the questions I'd like you to answer. What is your favorite cowboy romance, and what is the hero's name? Go to my website to enter. At the end of March, I will draw two names from the entries. One will win a signed copy of Dixie Cowboy, and one will win a special prize.

Dolores J. Wilson was born a coal miner's daughter in Morgantown, West Virginia, became a Florida transplant at the tender age of ten. In Tampa, she began her writing career when she and a cousin founded their own neighborhood tabloid and became the source for the juiciest news on the block. Their success, however short-lived, lay in their ability to sniff out gossip--or make it up. The locals were good-humored enough to take it all in stride. Or as Dolores suspects, she was simply too young to be sued for slander.

She went on to write articles for her junior high school newsletter and progressed to producing her first novel. The result was 300 pages of spineless hero, shy and mostly-in-hiding heroine, and remarkably dreadful prose. As a woman who realizes when she's in over her head, Dolores sought help through her local Romance Writers of America chapter, creative writing classes, and writers' conferences.

Along the way, she found her voice. She also found a devoted group of like-minded friends who became precious as family to her and shared their own skills, as well as what they had learned from their own experiences as authors. Her ability and confidence flourished, and Dolores' talent for writing sweet romance and Southern women's humor blossomed.

Dolores road-trips with her husband RW in their motorhome every summer. They meet up with friends and family along the way, enjoy bluegrass festivals, and Dolores serves massive meals from her portable kitchen to whoever shows up to eat. At home, she's the center of her big family, and she orchestrates big, messy, noisy celebrations for holidays, birthdays, weddings, and whenever she darn well feels like it.