Monday, December 10, 2012

Guest Post & Excerpt: Sandcastles of Love by Sydell Voeller

Today we have a guest post from Sydell Voeller, author of Sandcastles of Love. We also have an excerpt from the novel! Check out the synopsis:

When Logan Becker’s family embarks on a summer “house swapping” vacation in a beach town in Oregon, Logan is overjoyed. Similarly, Tricia Merrit, the daughter of the other family, is thrilled to be in the farm belt of Minnesota.


Logan falls in love with the beach boy surfer of her dreams, but soon she discovers he’s Tricia’s boyfriend. Logan’s dreams are shattered. Meanwhile, there’s another boy who is attracted to Logan—the totally uncool Grant Duncan who is busy trying to launch a campaign to clean the local beaches. Can Logan come to realize that true love often reveals itself in unexpected ways?

Guest Post by Sydell Voeller:

Many readers have commented on the settings in my books, often centered on the Oregon Coast or the Puget Sound area in western Washington. But why these beach settings? Why do they evoke strong memories that fuel my writing?

I grew up near Edmonds, north of Seattle. Many decades earlier, Edmonds began its existence as a logging town. Now this “friendliest town in Washington” boasts luxurious condos with sweeping views of the Sound, unique gift shops and boutiques, antique stores, and scrumptious bakeries--just to name a few. In summertime and early fall, colorful hanging flower baskets adorn the main streets, giving the town a festive, European ambience.

I remember as a small girl scouring the beach in Edmonds for shiny small rocks and shells, and the soft plopping sounds as I dropped each shell into my plastic bucket. Even broken shells would do! I remember the relatives who visited every summer without fail from the Midwest. They loved riding the ferry, even if it were only to the opposite shore and back. Often in the early evening, the women packed up a casserole, a simple salad, and beverages to tote to the beach where we’d spread out our feast onto wind-worn picnic tables. My dad would join us once he returned from work. There we’d eat, laugh, talk and gaze at the gentle waves lapping the shore. We could also see the lines of vehicles waiting to board the green and white ferries.

I also recall my early teen years when my girlfriends and I’d walk to the beach during summertime. We’d spread out blankets, slather on cocoa butter, bake under the sun, and look for cute guys. With a briny breeze against our faces, the warmth radiating up from the sand, and the occasional wail of a train that rode the rails paralleling the beach, we were happy Beach Bums for the day. Later during high school, our crowd I often drove to the beach on warm summer evenings. We built beach fires that scented the air with the salty smell of driftwood. We strolled barefoot, feeling the gritty sand between our toes. Later we huddled around the fire to toast marshmallows and solve the world’s problems--or so we thought.

So what about you? What type of environment awakens your senses and makes you feel alive and inspired? It might be a trail through a majestic Old Growth forest in the mountains, the high desert with its endless miles of tan sculpted hills, a ranching community nestled into a lush green valley, or a beach where, like me, you can commune with the seagulls.

The upshot is, in order to make my stories spring to life, I give them a vivid background setting portrayed through the use of the five senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, and sound. In two of my recent re-released e-books, Sandcastles of Love (romance for teens) and The Fisherman’s Daughter (an adult romantic suspense novel), I’ve woven in many sensory details to make the characters and the story real—just as I’ve described the evocative sensory details in my brief autobiographical sketch above.

More specifically, in Sandcastles of Love, surfing, evening beach fires, romantic walks on the sand, a spooky old light house—and yes, of course sandcastles—all blend together as the stage on which I created this story. Yes, these descriptions sprang forth from my memories and experiences, all interwoven into what I hope will be one of your favorite stories.

Excerpt from Sandcastles of Love:

I awakened with a start, bathed in cold seat, then blinked twice. A bulky shadow hovered alongside of me. Something with two glowing amber eyes was staring right into my face. Every muscle in my body tensed. Every nerve was standing on end. 
I opened my mouth to scream, but all I heard was a shrill sound from my attacker. 
Mee-ow. 
In an instant my mind cleared. I couldn't help but giggling. Reaching out to rub the black Angora cat's head, I heard her begin to purr. Hadn't Tricia Ferris warned me her spoiled pet--who under no circumstances was to be allowed outdoors--liked to sleep on the foot of her bed at night? 
"Good kitty. Nice Kitty," I said in a hushed, but still somewhat shaky voice. "Now get down where you belong and let me go back to sleep." I propped myself up on one elbow and gave her a gentle shove. The cat padded her way across the covers with slow, deliberate steps. I soon felt the weight of her curled-up body against my feet. The sound of her purring mingled with the ticking of my alarm clock. 
I lay back down and jerked the covers more snugly around me. Darn! My midnight intruder had just interrupted the most wonderful dream. Midnight. Tricia couldn't have chosen a more appropriate name. Squeezing my eyes shut, my thoughts drifted back to my dream. It'd been about that gorgeous sun-tanned guy I'd glimpsed on the beach. 
In the dream, we were walking together hand-in-hand, the icy surf washing onto our bare feet. I don't remember exactly what the guy was saying to me, but his head had been angled close to mine, and his words had left me with a warm, melting feeling. 
Actually, he was more than gorgeous--in real life as well as my dream. I guess you'd say he rated somewhere between the Beach Boys and Misca Barisnokoff. Somehow he possessed a magical combination of carefree abandonment, physical agility and perfect form. 
Perfect form. That was I admired most in a guy, I guess. Someday I want to be a professional dancer. I've taken lessons for eight years now at Miss Bernstein's School of Dance near Rochester and dream of winning a scholarship to the art academy after I graduate from high school. 
Suddenly I knew I had to do more than just dream. I had to find that gorgeous guy again. I had to find him if it was the last thing I did. Tomorrow, I promised myself. I would get started first thing tomorrow.

For more about Sandcastles of Love check out these sites!


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