April and Hale Abercrombie’s love is tender and sweet. While he serves in Vietnam, their marriage is marked by trust and the belief that they will grow old together with a gaggle of grandchildren at their feet. But, their charmed marriage changes in the face of losing their newborn daughter.
On leave from his tour, Hale can barely wait to hold his wife and her help her heal. When he arrives, his embrace, his touch, and his love are as perfect as April remembered. Their reunion is passionate and their physical connection is strong and soothing. But, April’s heartache remains.
Hale stumbles through his attempts to prove to April that their future will be rich and full of wonder. His good-hearted, but take-charge approach causes her to retreat. Even in grief, April can see Hale’s earnestness, yet she finds solace in putting space between them. With a short time before Hale must return to war will they see that real love endures in the face of adversity, that their marriage can be strengthened even when it looks as though all is lost?
Set on the beaches of the Outer Banks, Return to Love is the second book in the Endless Love series. Book one, Home Again, was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
~ Pump Up Your Books
” Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Autumn 1970
Hale’s lungs were tight as he gripped his duffel in one hand and held his uniform over his shoulder with the other. He flew up the steps of the small fishing cottage that his wife was renting from the Shelby family and arrived on the wide porch. He had imagined the moment he’d see her so many times that he felt like he was performing a play. He dropped the duffel right there and knocked on the screen door. Why was he knocking? She knew he was coming. He threw the door open and walked into the small entry. It opened into the family room. He wiped his feet while he scanned the space. “April!”
His heart beat fast and heavy. Yes, he was home under difficult circumstances. Hale’s wife was having difficulty coping with the stillbirth of their daughter. He was worried for her and knew if his skipper granted hardship leave that things must be bad. Yet he was determined, sure as he had finally arrived at the Outer Banks, he was confident that he could make her well. He just needed to see her, to hold her, to tell her everything was going to be okay.
The Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight” was playing on the radio. The tune brought a smile to his face. He rushed down the hallway and poked his head into two bedrooms and a bathroom before finding the room April had been using. He tucked his naval uniform into the closet, went back to the kitchen, and turned off the radio, straining to hear any noise that might signal April’s location. He went back outside, inhaling the salty air.
Where was she? He leapt off the porch and crossed the gravelly lane called Beach Road stepping onto the sand, craning his neck to catch a glimpse of her. A seagull clipped Hale’s head as it landed off to the side then flipped a whitefish into its mouth. As far as he could see, the beach was empty, yet he thought he should walk it, search for April. He didn’t know which direction she would have walked, but he started out anyway.
Heading south, a flock of black birds escorted him from above. Scores of them moved together like one great wing flapping in the wind. The whoosh of their collective descent was punctuated by their coarse, throaty screams.
The sand worked into Hale’s shoes, each particle stabbing at the skin below his ankles. He pushed one shoe off and then the other, leaving them near a smattering of driftwood that had been pushed ashore by high tide. The birds dropped, their calls growing louder, drowning out the surf. One by one the black skimmers rained from the sky like bombs, their red beaks bright against the gray sky that had crept in with Hale’s arrival. Some of the birds landed in the shoals and poked and prodded at the sand.
He came upon the largest cluster of birds, the beige sand peeking out in small patches among the blackness, and his eye went to a different form, a woman sitting rod straight, motionless in the center of the black avian shroud. Her blonde hair whipped in the wind like the sea grass at his feet. Hale stopped. His heart thumped. April. He willed himself to breathe, to move toward her. He’d never seen such a sight, the way she seemed partly born of the sand, partly able to sprout wings and fly away.
“April!” he said, waving even though her back was to him.
She did not respond. He called again, his words turned back to him by the stiff ocean gales. He jogged toward her, weaving in between napping skimmers, hopping over those that were too busy eating to move out of his way.
When he had nearly reached April, he halted again. He suddenly felt nervous about his excitement; he felt her sadness as though they shared the same soul. He’d never seen such a stunning sight in his life. Her elegance was apparent even sitting on a beach, in the middle of birds. She turned her head slightly, her profile facing him. His stomach flipped. Oh my God, is she beautiful. The wind tossed her hair, making her appear as though she were posing for a magazine shoot.
Even from a distance, even from the side, he thought he could see the sparkle of her blue eyes. The way they were set, wide on her face, made it seem as though he saw something slightly different every time he looked at her, something more, something alluring, hypnotizing. Those eyes.
There was no woman more captivating, he was sure. Or more lonely. Her sadness seemed to leap over the sand to him, to well up from the soles of his feet, filling him, squeezing the breath from his suddenly heavy lungs. If he felt this, then her pain must be far greater. Her emptiness more profound. He’d helped her create life, but he hadn’t been there when it ended. ”
1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
2. What would you say inspired you to write it?
I was inspired to write Return to Love because after I wrote Home Again (book one) the characters, April and Hale, would not leave me be! I thought there was so much more to say about them and their journey together that I sat back down and created the next installment of their lives.
3. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
I don’t have writer’s block at all, ever. What I’ve had is lack of time and also a dose of fear every once in a while, which can delay my progress in the way that others say writer’s block does for them. Due to life circumstances, the segments of time which I have to write are sometimes choppier and more spread apart than I’d like. That can interfere with getting the next book done. But as far as having a lack of ideas to write about that does not happen to me. I do have to make choices between projects and focus on one over another at times and that can create the fear I mentioned. Fear that I won’t get it all done, that the manuscript in progress that has to wait for the deadline of another novel will somehow evaporate into thin air. So there are times I’m stalled, but not for lack of ideas!
4. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
Well… it depends on when the clock starts and stops on the “time.” It generally takes me years to write historical fiction and months to write women’s fiction and romance. With that said, I am really interested in publishing the women’s fiction I wrote that snagged me an agent about 8 years ago. She was unable to sell it and I can’t wait to rewrite it and publish it myself… So based on that accounting, that would be my longest project, but I haven’t touched it in years!
5. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Getting my PhD changed me. That process showed me I could craft something from nothing and defend the product to a committee—I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment that process gave me. There has been nothing like it since. But that process is what taught me that I could write books, I could run a business and publish them on my own, taking care of each and every step from the creative to the business end of things. When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis I turned more fully to fiction writing. Now that I write completely from home, I feel so very fortunate that I have been able to craft a life for myself doing what I love. There is nothing like that in the world, I think and I will forever be grateful for having the skill and drive to do it. So yes, being an author has changed and empowered me while dealing with a disease that stole my former lifestyle from me, but I think the PhD set the whole thing up. Only 10% of people who start PhD programs get the degree in the end. Achieving that let me know I could accomplish anything.
6. Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
Oh yes. Back when I had an agent who couldn’t sell my work I was very unsure about this path. Relying on layers of people, hoping that a publisher would pluck my book from the group of submissions and connect with it was starting to wear on me. When I decided to publish on my own I was really ready. I knew readers would love my work and having ways to reach them with less traditional pathways made it all possible. Readers are everything in this business and knowing I can reach them on my own was empowering. I knew all these finished manuscripts had a place in the hands of readers. So, after some very low, lows, I feel the fortune of publishing on my own, ever single day. Even a bad day is good.
7. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
They hurt. But it’s part of the business. I tell myself to suck it up all the time. Ignore it! I feel like having a big publisher might help a writer deflect the pain of a bad review. A Random House author can always think, “well, so and so didn’t like my book, but Random House did!” Heck, if I had a big publisher I might never even read reviews. But every time I look at rankings to determine if a promotion or marketing push is working, the rank is right there with the reviews and I can’t help but look! I knew deep down that my writing was good. (yes, I know that doesn’t mean everyone will like it!) I worked very hard to publish using all the same elements that a big publisher did. I treated it like a business and so at times when I get a really horrible review it can make me wonder if I’m just fooling myself. After all, I am not Random House! But, as time goes on and my writing process sharpens and the publishing process is streamlined I am more certain that I am turning out quality, passionate writing. Ignoring the negatives (from reviewers, not from editors) is just part of the game.
8. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
Yes, there is more to come in this Endless Love series. Home Again is book one and Return to Love is book two. I’m working on a novella that will go into another anthology called Holiday Bliss and will feature the same house that the first anthology, Bliss, did. Nurse Peters who is introduced in Return to Love is the main character in the holiday novella. Also, in 2015 I will publish April and Hale’s third story. It will show them as Hale returns from war for good.
9. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
My most decorated and bestselling book so far, The Last Letter, is the first in the historical fiction series called The Letter series. Books two and three in that series should be launching at the end of 2014 and early 2015.
10. What would you say was the toughest part about going self-pub?
The toughest part is just being alone. You have to rely on yourself in the end and hope that you’re making the right choices for your work when it comes to hiring editors and designers and making marketing plans.
11. Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
Yes, in treating publishing as a business, I knew that was part of the deal. I wanted to structure my process to mimic traditional publishing as much as I could when it came to quality.
12. How did you decide who to hire, if you worked with pros?
I network, form friendships, and help other writers. Indie writers are some of the most generous and insightful people I’ve ever met. I pay it forward as well, but I can’t say how grateful I am to have met so many people willing to share who is a quality editor or designer. It helps narrow down who to work with.
13. Where is your work being distributed, Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks/Omnilit, some other distributor? How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
My books are distributed everywhere I can! One of my biggest, most supportive distributers is Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont. The owner is incredibly forward thinking and open to self-publishers. But, the bulk of my sales are coming from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
14. If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
I guess I wouldn’t change anything. On a different day, perhaps I would change the way the world changed and then hope that my deal came through seven years ago… but I’m not sure I’m in a worse position than most authors… I am so empowered and happy to be publishing on my own. There are times I wish I wasn’t doing all the publishing tasks, but really, I like having control. There might come a time when I want a more traditional deal, but it would take a lot for me to accept a deal right now. I would like to find an agent to sell my foreign rights. One hundred thousand books is a lot to sell on my own and I think there are some readers overseas who might be interested…
1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
Health and happiness for all. Yes, I know that’s infantile.
2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
East of Eden
3. Name your favorite fruit.
4. Coffee or tea?
I love both, but coffee would win this one.
5. Favorite season?
6. How about fav time of 24 hours?
Early morning 5-7 AM when I am writing before anyone is awake.
7. Favorite food for breakfast?
8. Latest book you’ve bought and read?
Of Mice and Men—reading with my son.
9. Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
10. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
11. Have a fav quote or personal motto?
Just Do It! With apologies to Nike—I do wear Nikes more than any other running shoe. In 25 years of choosing shoes, I’ve only bought another brand twice. But I believe in any area of life, the only thing stopping a person from success is starting—worrying about failure before even trying.
12. Cats or dogs?
13. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
About the Author & Links:
Amazon Top-100 Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
Her latest book is the romance, Return to Love.