Write and Read What You Know – But Wish You Didn’t by Colleen L. Donnelly

Write and Read What You Know – But Wish You Didn’t

by guest author Colleen L Donnelly

 

I’ve claimed for years that if you run up against a dilemma and need an answer—read the Bible and watch Seinfeld. Whatever is bothering you will have been covered in one or the other. And after you’ve discovered and acted upon the answer you sought…yes or no to a particular proposal, do or don’t to exacting revenge, will or won’t keep a rendezvous, go or stay when going is warranted…and grit continues to grind in your soul, then it’s time to flesh the residue out on paper. Write it down…or find someone else who did.

For those who feel the inclination to write, scratch out every heartrending, unreasonable, furious elation which surfaces…and burn it. Or stuff the list under your mattress for your kids to gape at long after you’ve forgotten it was there. You might reconsider burning it. Or publish it, because some ancestor likely will when they go through your things someday. But publish it in the form of a novel, and let fictitious characters that your children and neighbors won’t recognize resolve what was unresolvable in your soul.

That worked for me, and for the like-suffering non-writers who devoured my books. My and their tangled webs began to clear after a series of novels which dealt with an adulterer amidst other rather prudish characters. Exhausted, and with souls bared, there at the bottom of the barrel lay the betrayed and a betrayer, their judgment hammered out by the characters in my books.

Using these stories to undo the undoable, my readers and I demanded a chance for the woman in my book who was accused of having an affair to be heard before her husband banned her from the home. We gasped when a music professor was murdered, presumably by his wife, because of suspected infidelity. We applauded for the young and emotionally abused housewife whose life changed with a single compliment from another man. And we tried to drag the young authoress away from her engagement to a solid man, when her heart belonged to another. Lastly we didn’t know whether to love or hate the embittered wife who always knew, but couldn’t prove, she wasn’t the love of her husband’s life.    

When you can’t open your mouth and say, “Ahhhhh,” and a doctor peer down your throat and exclaim, “Oh, there’s that nasty snag in your soul…hold on while I extract it,” then you need to go write or read a book. Characters are far more successful at unclogging what’s mired than we are, and they can do it in the privacy of your home where no one will ever gasp or know it was you.

 Tell us about your most recent book, Out of Splinters and Ashes.

My most recent publication, “Out of Splinters and Ashes” is a finalist for the Rone Award in historical fiction for its time period. This book centers around a supposed love affair between an American soldier/runner and a young German authoress just before WWII began. The book itself opens years later with the American soldier’s granddaughter and the German authoress’s grandson encountering and clashing with each other in their individual searches for the enemy their grandparent had been accused of loving. Both families have reputations to save, accusations to resolve, and dysfunctions to mend.

Cate is a runner. She prefers to help her fiancé run his New York senate race, but she finds herself running instead to fix what’s broken between her grandparents before he finds out—her grandmother has moved out of the family home, and her grandfather is accused of a pre-WWII relationship with a woman in Germany.

Dietrich is a German journalist with a spotless reputation. He prefers facts, but he finds himself lost in a world of fiction instead to prove his novelist grandmother couldn’t possibly have been the lover of a US runner in Berlin’s 1936 Olympics—especially when that runner’s granddaughter is Cate, a stubborn obstacle he should but can’t ignore.

Cate runs hard to cover up what Dietrich uncovers, until he shows her how it could have been—and how it could be again—that one can indeed love an enemy.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

Colleen’s writing companion

Colleen’s writing companion

Wannabe writers are told they will write five books before they finally create one good enough for traditional publishing. True to that saying, book numbers one through four of mine were rejected by traditional publishers, though number four was good enough I self-published it. Book number five, a Nanowrimo novel, was accepted immediately by The Wild Rose Press, resulting in a traditional contract. I have been publishing historical fiction with them ever since.

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Find Colleen:

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And finally, an excerpt from Out of Splinters and Ashes…

Grandma was impossible to stop. She charged around me, into the room, flipping on a light as she did. “You can go now,” she barked at the soldier still holding the door. “This won’t take long.”

He nodded at Grandpa, then shut us in, us and the mirror.

I saw Amabile’s story all over again as Grandpa spotted the mirror, the deep-down flicker I’d noticed before, but brighter now. Grandma and I disappeared as time took him backwards, his face transforming from old and haggard to young and alive—then to terrified, and lastly to nothing, except guilt. Grandma didn’t raise the mirror as I expected her to, and shake it in his face. She let it hang in front of her, between them, the charred frame and lone lily all he could see.

I stared at the trembling finger that stretched and touched the blackened wood, scars this man probably deserved exposed at the cuff of his sleeve.

“I believe this is yours.” Grandma’s voice was low. I’d never seen them this close together before, never seen them face each other. But I’d seen the mirror between them forever without knowing it was there.

Revenge Among the Stars - new release!

Welcome, Vicky!

Today I’m highlighting Vicky’s new release, Revenge Among the Stars.

Tell us a little about “Revenge Among the Stars” being published by The Wild Rose Press.

Revenge is a futuristic romance, which in this case means it takes place in another galaxy, on another planet. But there are no aliens involved. Just bad guys, a hunky good guy, a determined heroine, and a couple of AIs (Artificial Intelligences) who like to steal the show on occasion. It was originally published thirteen years ago by another publisher who shall remain nameless as an erotic romance. I wasn’t comfortable with the heat level then, so when I got my rights back, I completely rewrote it. The bad guys are still there, along with the hunky good guy, the determined heroine and the AIs, but the sex level has been definitely toned down to PG-13.

Find it on  Amazon .

Find it on Amazon.

Blurb:

Aleksia Matthews is left for dead, after space pirates attack her ship and kill her brother. She swears to avenge his death but knows she can't do the job alone. After taking out an ad for a bounty hunter, she weeds out the bad from the good, and one man stands out. He could be the perfect partner—and that scares Ali more than the pirates do.

Special agent Jason Cole is tracking the pirates who killed his family, but he's always one step behind. There have never been any survivors—until now. He needs Ali to identify the attackers, but she proves to be stubborn. She plans to go with him on the hunt, and he's determined to keep her safe.

While Cole and Ali seek revenge, someone at headquarters would like to see them fail. Together they battle explosions, their emotions, and danger from one of their own.

What inspired the story?

I’ve always been a bit of a science fiction geek. I love Star Trek, Star Wars, star… anything. I love thinking that there are other beings out there; that we’re not alone in this vast universe. And yet… those people have the same problems and issues we have. Maybe they’re a little more advanced, but the basic things that go with life would still be true. And come on, who doesn’t love an AI with attitude? Also, there’s a cat—Me-too—that was inspired by Robert Heinlein’s cat Pixel.

In writing Revenge Among the Stars, what was the most fun?

The AIs. Coming up with Posi, Zeus, and Sami and making them come alive was so much fun. You have to realize, I wrote this before “Siri” and “Aleksa” were part of our daily lives. But even with their presence in our homes, they still don’t have a lot of personality. My AIs do. Also, Me-too, was named by the hero’s niece. She always wanted whatever her brother had and was always saying “Me too!” Thus, the cat’s name. And a nod to my now-grown kids who used to do the same thing. Endlessly! LOL.

Are you working on other books in this series?

Yes, but with different characters. All the books will be in the same universe and may have people who cross over, but each book will be stand alone and focus on a different set of characters. After creating an entire universe, it would be a shame not to use more of it.

How did you go about building the world in which your characters live?

I had to do a lot of science research into building worlds that could sustain human life, but also creating a landscape that would work for the story. For that, I used a trip I took across country from Pennsylvania to Washington with stops along the way—the Badlands of the Dakotas as well as the area of the Little Big Horn and Monument Tower and the desert area of Washington state (I’m serious—the central area of Washington is a desert!). My pictures and mental images of those areas as well as many more on our 6,000 mile drive (to meet new grandchild) formed a lot of the landscape for my story.

Why did you revise/revisit this book?

As I said earlier, to tone it down. It was very well received when it originally came out by multiple reviewers, but I just wasn’t comfortable with the heat level. Several people told me I needed to get it out there again, and The Wild Rose Press agreed. 

What authors have inspired you?

A lot. Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, Linnea Sinclair, David Eddings, Kathleen Woodiwiss—I could go on forever. I read a wide variety of books that are not limited to just romances. I pretty much read everything except horror—and maybe “literary” books like Faulkner (read him, didn’t care for him). Not my thing. But science fiction, romance, fantasy, mystery, etc. You name it, I read it. You can even go farther back and add in Nancy Drew books, Shakespeare, the Greek tragedies… and more. 

Which genre is your favorite?

In line with the answer above, I can’t pin down an exact favorite. But if I had to say something, I’d say probably cozy mysteries and romantic comedies (any era) in the style of Sandra Hill or a good futuristic like Susan Grant and Linnea Sinclair. I like a little tongue-in-cheek humor when I read. Something that makes me smile. But they all have to have a HEA.

How do you decide on a character’s name?

That’s a hard one for me. It has to have meaning of some sort. I have lists of names (and their meanings) that I often fit to the character. One thing is certain, I cannot write the story until I know their names. And once I settle on a name, it doesn’t change.

What time of day do you feel most creative?

Very early in the morning. I’m definitely a morning person—I’m usually up around five or five-thirty (with no alarm clock) and use that time before my husband is up to write and work. The dark hours before dawn are the best time of day for me. But don’t ask me to do anything after 9:30 p.m. Not going to happen. 😊 

Did you ever have a character surprise you?

Yes. All the time. I think they’re going to do one thing and…there they go, off on some tangent I never had in mind. And it usually works out better.

Who is your favorite character and why?

It depends on the story I’m writing. In “Revenge Among the Stars”, SAMI, the AI, was actually my favorite character because he’s so…human. He’s a computer with attitude. In the book I’m working on now (a fantasy), Crumb is my favorite. In another book, it will be someone else. Each book has someone I love. Someone who will stick in my mind.

Now for an excerpt!

She risked a glance at Jason and the other man. They were both out cold. “That’s it, then. We go by water.”

“Ali, it’s too dangerous,” Sami protested as a laser flare lit up the area in front of the rocks. “The sled’s been damaged.”

“I don’t have much of a choice, Sami. They haven’t seen me yet, but they will soon, and I don’t

think this baby can take too many of those crystal hits, can it?”

A very reluctant “no” issued from the speaker.

“Keep a fix on me, Sami. I’m going to be busy, and I’m going to need your help. Activate night vision.”

“Ali, you can’t be serious. The odds of you surviving in such turbulence are beyond my capabilities to compute.”

“Sami, either help me or shut up.” She lifted the sled out of the rocks and took a perpendicular line to the river. A minute after she left the safety of the rocks, a flare lit them up, and she blinked against the sudden glare—momentarily blinded. The sled bounced as she scraped against a low rise, staying on course by instinct alone. As she reached the river, another flare burst,

lighting her for the pirates to see.

“I’ve been spotted, Sami.” Ali killed the night vision and turned on her running lights as a beam

whizzed by her port side. She gulped at the sight of the raging torrent but headed into the dubious safety of the water. Hopefully, the roiling water would dissipate some of the power of the beams.

“Baby, I sure hope you’re watertight.” Ali crossed her fingers as she dropped the sled into the water.

Find Revenge Among the Stars on Amazon and other online venues.

What was your funniest moment as an author?

Weird as it may sound, a vacation I took with my family to the ocean. I was in the middle of creating the world for another book and just couldn’t figure out the landscape, so, my kids and I sat on the beach and built a world out of sand, kind of like the guy in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. We built mountains and rivers, towns, everything. People looked at us kind of funny, but it all worked out. The kids and I had a ball and I got my world built. I took pictures of it all before the tide washed it away to bring home.

What do you find more challenging about writing than you expected?

Vicky’s writing (and crafting/sewing) room. That is a purged/cleaned bookshelf she assured me! Authors love books.

Vicky’s writing (and crafting/sewing) room. That is a purged/cleaned bookshelf she assured me! Authors love books.

Two things: the actual writing and the promotions. I have a ton of stories in my head, but actually sitting down and putting them on paper is often a challenge. There are some days when the words just won’t come. When you stare at the blank screen and wonder what the heck you’re going to write that’s new and different and exciting. If you’re not careful, you can become jaded after a while. And then there’s promoting your books and yourself. For a strong introvert who doesn’t travel, this can be the hardest thing in the world to do. But it’s necessary.

Are you a pantser or a plotter:

A little of both. I don’t plot the entire story out, but I know where I’m starting and where it’s going and a little of what happens in the middle. It’s a very loose sort of plotting.

How do you start work on a book?

I get an idea and come up with a main character. Then I interview that character using a journalistic approach: Who are you? What happened? Where did it happen? Why did it happen? How did it happen? When did it happen? And so on. Once I have those questions answered, I can write the story.

When you’re having a problem with a book, what do you do to solve it?

I have an amazing group of writing friends. We call ourselves the Boot Squad because we kick each other’s butts if we’re not getting the work done. Of the five of us, two are my best friends and I can turn to either one of them for brainstorming. They are my worst critics and my best supporters. I’d never be able do what I do without them.

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Vicky Burkholder has been married forever to the one person who accepts that she lives in a fantasy world most of the time. She's even been seen at the beach building worlds for her stories. In addition to creating fun characters, fantasy worlds, and suspenseful situations, she also enjoys and is very good at things like writing policy and procedures manuals and setting up continuity and organizational spreadsheets, both of which she has actually earned money doing. She has a master's degree in library science so likes things organized. Okay, so her family thinks having the spice rack alphabetized it a bit much, but she has no trouble finding what she needs when she needs it. And just because her extensive library is cataloged and organized, that doesn't mean she's obsessive. Honest. When not writing, Vicky can be found in the kitchen whipping up gluten-free, lactose-free, other allergy-free meals. Or watching the world go by from her front porch swing.

~ Website ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Goodreads Page ~

~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Bookbub ~

Nobody Else But You by Claire Marti

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress. 

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga.

Claire's exciting new Pacific Vista Ranch series set on a horse-breeding ranch in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe, California, launches in September 2019.

Welcome, Claire!

 When did your writing journey begin?

I can’t remember a time I wasn’t writing stories! I created my first “book” when I was five years old entitled The Cruel Swan. I also illustrated, stapled, and copied this story to pass out to my family and friends.

What was your inspiration for latest book, Nobody Else But You, the first in a new Pacific Vista Ranch series set on a horse-breeding ranch in Rancho Santa Fe, CA?

One of my private yoga client’s daughter is a horse breeding manager at a quarter horse breeding ranch in San Diego County. I was intrigued by the fact she’s only one of a handful of women in the country doing this job. I wanted to write about a strong heroine excelling in a unique, male-dominated industry.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process. 

My first series, Finding Forever in Laguna, was published with a small press. I decided to branch out and self-published Nobody Else But You and two more books in this series will release in October and January, respectively. I’m loving the freedom and the control with the indie experience.

Any new projects on the horizon?

Book 2, The Very Thought of You, which features Sam’s older sister Amanda and a hot fireman, comes out October 2019. Book 3, For The Love of You, releases January 2020 and features Sam’s twin sister Dylan in a fake engagement with a playboy French soccer player. I’m also working on a 1920’s historical set in Paris.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

Don’t give up! Keep writing no matter what.

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She’s avoided Hollywood for years…

When an arrogant Hollywood stuntman struts into Samantha McNeill’s breeding barn, sparks fly. She doesn’t care how mouthwateringly gorgeous he is, not when he assumes Pacific Vista Ranch’s resident horse breeding manager must be a man. Not to mention his job threatens to pull her family back into the paparazzi filled world they escaped from over a decade ago.

Now it’s at her door––wearing faded jeans and a wicked grin.

Holt Ericsson can tell the beautiful redhead hates him on sight and the feeling is becoming mutual. But he will call in a favor and convince Sam’s legendary director father that Pacific Vista Ranch is the only suitable place left in California to film an epic Western. Holt’s invested all his savings in the movie and his entire career is riding on it. No way will he allow one irritating, sexy woman to stand in his way.

Sam intends to fight him at every turn…if only her heart didn’t race when they’re together. Holt does his best to steer clear of her…except all he wants to do is hold her close. The sizzling attraction between them is either going to burn up the sheets or burn down the ranch

Find this new release online: AMAZON, B&N, KOBO, IBOOKS

SPEED ROUND!

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Let’s wrap up with an excerpt from Nobody Else But You.

Holt froze.

Would he ever find any privacy? What he wouldn’t give to be alone in either his generic apartment or a soulless hotel room in Anywhereville.

He’d been reclining on the chaise lounge closest to the pool cabana, ready to strum his fingers against the familiar guitar strings. Minding his own damn business. The splash jolted him out of his almost relaxed state.

Please don’t let it be her.

After the awkward scene at dinner, he’d retreated to the guesthouse and the nearby deserted pool beckoned to him. Playing some music in the mild Southern California evening appealed to him, especially after he’d been stuck inside 24/7 during his most recent job in a remote corner of Canada.

The lights from the main house illuminated her slim, lithe form slicing through the water. Slender toned arms silently stroked and uniform kicks propelled her from one end of the pool and back. Of course she swam as well as she rode, barely leaving ripples in the glasslike water’s surface.

Adrenaline started pumping through his veins. But damn––all he wanted was a little peace and quiet. His music calmed him and served as part of his pre-film preparation for all of the upcoming intricate stunt work. Definitely not the time for a confrontation with a gorgeous half-naked woman who was also dealing with a lot of upheaval. He didn’t have the energy to fight.

He didn’t want to fight with her, but it just seemed to happen.

Should he just bail and find another secluded spot on the property? The ranch was certainly big enough.

Maybe he could slink off without alerting her to his presence. It certainly would be a hell of a lot easier.

He nodded his head decisively, grabbed his guitar, and sprang to his feet. There had to be another spot on the other two hundred plus acres of ranch where Samantha McNeill was not nearby in a bathing suit. If luck were with him, she never needed to know he’d been at the pool. He remained in the shadows, crept toward the stone path, and prayed she kept swimming. Not that he was skulking away or anything.

Yeah, right. 

Find and follow Claire:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Goodreads  ~  Bookbub  ~  Amazon

Find and follow Claire: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads ~ Bookbub ~ Amazon

Claire’s award winning debut novel, Second Chance in Laguna, was a Finalist for Best Contemporary Romance in the prestigious Stiletto Contest, won best unpublished contemporary romance in the Heart of the Molly and third place in the Maggie. Book two in the Finding Forever in Laguna series, At Last in Laguna, and Book three, Sunset in Laguna, are available everywhere. Sunset in Laguna was a Golden Quill finalist.

When Claire's not writing, she's teaching yoga. You can find her teaching at studios in sunny San Diego or enjoy fifty online classes on the international website www.yogadownload.com. A breast cancer survivor, Claire is a sought-after speaker on the power of yoga and meditation. She's been published in numerous magazines with articles on wellness and is the author of a memoir, Come Ride with Me Along the Big C, on her experience beating breast cancer. 
 
Claire is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, and the San Diego Romance Writers.

Cherokee Summer by Susan Antony

Welcome, Susan. What do you write?

I write YA Romance novels.

What drew you to writing?

The first novel I wrote was called “More Trouble for Me.” I was about ten years old and it contained thirty handwritten pages. In junior high I moved on to screenplays for movies of which I would one day I intended to star. My parents worried about me because I spent so much time alone in my room. I never told them I was writing. I’m sure they’d have been relieved, but I wanted to keep it a secret. Later on, life got in the way and I buried both my writing and acting dreams. I’d nearly forgotten about them entirely when decades later, while purging junk and cutter, I came across my first novel and was inspired to realize my childhood dream.

What was your inspiration for Cherokee Summer?

I was visiting the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina and remembered a crush I had on a Native American classmate when I was a ‘tween. I contemplated what might have happened had we been older. I opened my laptop, put my imagination to work, and Cherokee Summer was born.

Tell us about Cherokee Summer.

When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John's friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

I entered the Gateway to the Best Contest sponsored by the Missouri Romance Writers of American and won first place in the YA division. Kinan Werdski, an editor for The Wild Rose Press, was the judge and requested a full manuscript. So here, I am.  

((what a great story! Skip the query trenches!))

Any new projects on the horizon?

I am currently dismantling a YA Paranormal Romance and rewriting it with an altered plot.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

Learn to take criticism and never give up.

What was the hardest/most unusual/interesting part of the story to write/research?

While I only use a minuscule amount of it in my novel, I’d have to say learning phrases in the Cherokee language.

Inspirational images: Left: the author’s son and dog in the stream and near a bridge mentioned in the story; Right: attending a Pow Wow.

Now for an excerpt:

I invite her into the circle of my arms. She leans against me and rests her head on my shoulder. Above us, the moon is nearly full, casting bluish light across the river. The sky is a starry mess. “Look.” I point to the sky. “There’s Ursa Major.”

“What?” she asks.
“The bear constellation.”
“Where is it? Show me.”
I raise her hand and trace the starry image like I’m

doing a dot-to-dot picture. “There’s the head.” I swoop her hand left. “And there’s the tail.” I finish by pointing out the bear’s front and rear legs.

“The way you do it makes it look like a skinny, headless dog,” she says.

I laugh. “Where’s your imagination?” 130

Cherokee Summer

“Let me try.” She lifts my hand and traces a detailed shape of a bear, describing the air-drawing from ear to toe. “Is that better?”

“Perfect,” I say. “Like you.”
She laces her fingers through mine.
I rub tiny circles on her palm with my thumb as I

speak. “When I was a kid, I used to fear the bear would swoop down from the sky and eat me alive.”

“That’s horrible.” She presses her lips together, and her ribs shake in suppressed mirth.

“I wouldn’t laugh if I were you,” I say. “Elisi says that bear is pretty bad.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you from Starbear.” She makes a muscle, flexing and releasing her cute bicep.

“You will, huh?” I tickle her side.

She squeals, wiggles around, and digs her fingers into my ribs. We engage in a full out tickle-war. In the middle of our battle, the wind shifts and the earth rotates, and soon we’re on the ground with her straddling me, both of us panting.

 Our eyes lock, and I brush a strand of hair behind her ear. She leans over inch at a time until her nose touches mine. She kisses me, only a peck, then runs the tip of her tongue around lightly around my lips. Unable to resist any longer, I pull her to me and crush my mouth into hers.

 

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Next up at the Inn: Samantha Gentry's Rekindling an Old Flame

Thank you, Jean, for allowing me to share my latest release on your blog.

Hello, everyone. I'm Samantha Gentry. Rekindling An Old Flame is my contribution to The Wild Rose Press' Deerbourne Inn series. My book is an adult romance, a story of lost love and reunion—two people who haven't seen each other for fourteen years. Can the mistakes of the past be repaired or is it too late?

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The Deerbourne Inn is a charming bed and breakfast in Willow Springs, Vermont—a small town of approximately three thousand population. Rekindling An Old Flame is set during the first weekend in October, at the time of the annual Fall Foliage Celebration which is an arts and crafts festival in honor of the trees changing to the brilliant reds, oranges, and golds of autumn.

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He wants to reclaim the past. Does she dare let him back into her heart?

When interior decorator Skylar Rogers' car breaks down in the small town of Willow Springs, she's unprepared for a reunion with the man who once stole her heart and ripped it to shreds. That doesn't stop the erotic desires he ignites. She'll only be in town a few days, though. What could it hurt to take a little tumble down memory lane?

World famous bestselling author Cameron Amory is shocked to discover his college lover in his hometown. He never stopped loving her and has always regretted leaving her behind. Now, he'll do whatever it takes to win back her trust and her love. Has too much time gone by, or can he rekindle an old flame?

Time for an excerpt…

The female voice reached Cameron Amory's ears. He quickly shifted his gaze from the book in his hand to the woman engaged in conversation with the shop owner. A tiny ripple of excitement rapidly grew until it totally engulfed his senses. Could it possibly be?

It had been a long time since he last heard her voice, one he had never forgotten, a woman very special to him, someone he had dated for over a year when they were in college—several years ago. Someone who had consistently entered his thoughts over the ensuing years. The woman had her back to him. He listened to her conversation as he moved to a spot where he could see her face.

Crandall Barrett grabbed a pen and began filling out an order form. "Shipping will be no problem at all."

Skylar offered a grateful smile. "That's terrific. The two pieces I'm considering are that Hoosier cabinet—" She gestured toward the items in the corner. "—and the oak bonnet dresser with attached mirror. Is the mirror original or has it been resilvered?"

"It's original, in perfect condition."

As soon as Cameron came around the end of the aisle in the book section of the store, his gaze landed on her face. Skylar McGuire. His breath caught in his throat at the mere sight of her. Thousands of memories bombarded his consciousness, quickly resurrecting all the passion they once shared. The joy from years gone by suffused him with renewed desire.

It had been several years since he last saw her, fourteen years ago to be exact. He was two years ahead of her in college and had just graduated. He had planned to spend a year traveling around the country while working on his first novel, a decision he had shared with Skylar a few weeks before graduation.

Even though she hadn't said anything and had wished him good luck and a safe trip when he left, he had never forgotten the look of disappointment and hurt on her face. A look that had returned to haunt him many times. And every time he questioned whether he had made that decision because of his burning desire to be a writer or if it was his cowardly response to the idea of making a permanent commitment to her.

He closed his eyes as visions from their college days played across the screen of his mind. Seeing her now…she was even more beautiful than the image he had carried in his mind all these years. He had often thought about her, wondered where she was, what her life was like. What course had her life taken? Was she happy? What incredible quirk of fate had brought her to Willow Springs—and possibly back into his life? He returned his attention to her conversation with Crandall Barrett.

"I can put the two items on hold for a couple of days. If you decide to add them to your order, I can ship everything next week." Crandall poised his pen above the order form. "Your name?"

"Skylar Rogers." She handed him one of her business cards. "Here's the shipping information. I can always be reached at this phone number. It's my cell phone."

Cameron's momentary exhilaration crashed around him. Rogers? Not McGuire? She's married? Why is she here? Is she with her husband?

He shoved aside his instant regret over what might have been and headed toward her. "Sky? Skylar McGuire? Is that really you?"

Skylar turned at the sound of her name and found herself staring into the familiar turquoise blue eyes of Cameron Amory, the love of her life from her college days. Stunned silence filled the distance between them. For a moment, she felt as if all the oxygen had been sucked from the room. She finally managed to force out one whispered word. "Cam?"

Rekindling An Old Flame  is available in ebook at:  Amazon ,  Barnes and Noble , and other online vendors

Rekindling An Old Flame is available in ebook at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online vendors

About The Author:

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Samantha Gentry's Typical Day

As soon as I wake up, Harrison (my houseboy) draws my scented bath.  By the time I've finished bathing and am dressed he has prepared a champagne brunch which he serves on the terrace next to the swimming pool.  I spend the next two hours reading the morning newspaper and working on my tan.

Promptly at the stroke of noon I adjourn to my home office and begin writing.  I spend a grueling four hours slaving away over my computer keyboard creating brilliant prose filled with exciting characters, entertaining plots and highly sensual encounters.  I emerge from seclusion at four o'clock having written the next chapter of my current work-in-progress.

Harrison's talented touch soothes my tight shoulder muscles with an expert massage.  He pours me a glass of wine before going to prepare a gourmet dinner.  And the rest of the evening is better left to your imagination.

Oops…I just lost my hold on reality for a moment.  Sorry.

I'm a morning person and am usually at my computer by six o'clock with a cup of hot coffee which I keep at a safe distance from my keyboard (been through the spilled coffee on the keyboard before, don't need to do it again).  The first thing I do is go through my email.  Then I get to work-either writing or revising on my current work in progress, or doing the edits on my next release.  I usually run errands in the early afternoon.

I think I like the first version of what my typical day consists of better than the reality.  :)

Find Samantha online: Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook Profile ~ Facebook Author Page

 

If Wishes were Heroes: Jayne York's new release

Contemporary Women’s Fiction author Jayne York is visiting me today! Let’s jump in with some gorgeous cover art and a back cover blurb!

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Emily Converse never expected to return to Tamarack, Colorado. But she's determined to rescue her drug-addicted brother and start a new life. Standing in her way, she finds her stepfather, a powerful US senator, looming over her future like the ever-present monster he'd been during their childhood. Meeting wounded retired Navy SEAL, Michael McCandlis, is a steamy surprise in her homecoming, though he's adrift in civilian life. Together can they find a way to transform from victims to survivors?

Find on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Books and other online venues.

A quick word to aspiring authors:

Don’t take just anyone’s advice. When I started this journey, I knew nothing about the process or the time it would take to actually produce a traditionally published book. So, I listened to both good and bad advice, I didn’t know the difference. Some told me I was great, and others advised shoving the book under the bed and moving on. Then there were those who accused me of stereotyping my characters and even ethnic prejudice. (The last gave me real pause, I’ll tell you.) Yes some of my characters have stereotypical traits. Don’t we all? Those traits help to make them recognizable. Yes, there are cultural and ethnic differences addressed in my writing, but dang it all, I have met the people who inhabit those specific characters in my book, and I believe in the accuracy with which they are depicted. None of the cast in any story should be one-dimensional.

So the crux of what I’m saying to new authors is—tell the story to the best of your ability and trust those who have real palpable, verifiable experience. Believe in yourself and the beauty of the written word. And keep writing.

Pitch and query no matter how scary it might be. It’s a daunting effort but hike up your panties and keep at it. Find a home group of ACTIVE authors. Go to all the conferences you can and immerse yourself in the writing life. You have something to say and the world will be better for it. I honestly believe that.

Speed Round!

Coffee or Tea? I’m a devoted coffee girl. And I’ll take it any way I can get it with the possible exception of macchiato. Blech

Your desk? My desk is a wreck. But I’m really good at ignoring it. I’ll write anywhere; at my workbench, in the car, in the basement, by a lake, on a mountain or in my head. Of course it helps if there’s a WIP progress. And isn’t there always?

Character or Plot? Character and plot seem to show up at the same time. In “If Wishes Were Horses” the bare bones of the plot showed up with both my MCs. The intricacies of the subplots took some figuring, but only four years’ worth. With my WIP the plot arrived and then I spotted my hero on TV. I knew what my heroine looked like, but I found her on the big screen. It really helps me to have a visual of the physical character. I can look at them and ask – would he/she really do what I’m looking for?

Favorite Crayon color? My color would be Turquoise Sky. There’s nothing quite like the sky in the High Country of Colorado, and I have no idea why it’s turquoise, but it is. It also happens to be my birthstone

Now for an excerpt:

Once upon a time, she'd run away from Tamarack like her heels were on fire, and now here she was volunteering to step back into the furnace. What was the definition of insanity? Doing the same things over and over, expecting a different outcome. Like if she managed to change, be stronger, be smarter, things would turn out better—different. It wouldn't be that simple. She downshifted the Jeep to slow for the last of the S-shaped turns on the narrow ribbon of asphalt. The road led her past the pretentious granite columns that marked her stepfather's compound. She wasn't consciously holding her breath, but a trickle of fear dribbled down her spine just the same. Her molars ground together in determination. The past wouldn't decide her present, not ever again. In spite of herself, images of her last day on his estate flashed through her mind like the herky-jerky frames of a child's flip deck animation. Fear sharpened every visual, clarified every word, enhanced every touch. She'd run down the steps, racing for her car. He'd charged after her, smelling of alcohol and fury when he tried to stop her headlong rush toward an unknown future. They'd screamed out their mutual hatred, all the bitter dregs of their time together. She smirked when she remembered getting in the lucky shove that had landed him in a heap on the ground. It had been her first glimpse that Senator Ray Domenico was not the invincible, all-powerful monster she'd known him to be.

Website  ~  Blog  ~  Twitter  ~ Facebook: JayneYorkAuthor

Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook: JayneYorkAuthor

I've been an avid reader and sometime writer all of my life. I've never been able to resist the draw of a good story, and that has been true in my professional life as well. I was raised as the third of three children in the Colorado high country. Early on I discovered the joy of creating handcrafted jewelry, which led to a forty-five-year career as a professional jeweler. Every customer, every piece has its own story. I've collected them like pearls in a strand, and I often use them as a jumping-off point for the tales I tell. If you're looking for me, you'll find me on the shores of a northern lake, hammering away on my latest story of love and life in the modern world. ~*~ Find Jayne online at: http://www.JayneYork.com

A visit with N. Jade Gray

Welcome, N. Jade Gray!

What do you write?

My first two books, All for the Love of a Cowboy and Raider of Her Heart, are historical time travel romance novels. I got hooked on reading time travel romance some time ago. So, when I began to write seriously that was where my stories and ideas gravitated towards. I currently don’t have another time travel story in my noggin’. But, maybe one of these days another one will appear.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

My first two novels are published traditionally through The Wild Rose Press, a small publishing house in New York. I chose the small press route because I still hold a full-time day job and the self-publishing route concerned me with the time and research it would take to accomplish. I had the same editor, Nicole D’Arienzo, for both of my stories. I’m thankful for Nicole’s patience and knowledge. I have been happy with my experience with Wild Rose Press.

Any new projects on the horizon?

My current project I’m trying my hardest to work on is a Christmas romantic comedy. The plan is for it to be novel length as well.

What inspired Raider of her Heart?

August 21, 2013 was the 150th anniversary of William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas. I read an article about the event. My mind began to spin ideas in my head around writing a story based on the Burning of Lawrence. The idea for Raider of Her Heart was born.

Did a trip there inspire you?

Oh yes! My husband and I took a trip one weekend up to the Lawrence area to get a feel for the area. We went to the Watkins museum to study the events and also drove the route Quantrill and his men had taken.

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Cavalry scout Judson Stone needs to warn Lawrence, Kansas, of the impending threat of Quantrill and his raiders. Shot and left for dead, he awakes in a strange new time and place. Guilt riddles him over his failed mission as the days pass and he struggles to find a way back to his own time –and overcome growing feelings for a woman who doesn't trust him.

Sadie Winters has her hands full juggling a full-time job, a start-up business, and the chore of keeping tabs on her mischievous grandfather. She doesn't need the further complication of caring for the stranger Gramps brought home. Little by little, the mystery surrounding Judson is revealed, and she throws herself into helping him find his way back to his own time. But how can she send him back, knowing she's fallen in love?

Raider of Heart online: Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retailers.

Excerpt:

Stopping in front of the closest stall, she smiled at Judson. “This is Skittles.” She cupped a hand to her mouth and whispered, “Don’t tell the others, but she’s my favorite.”

His gaze took in the stall and then met hers. A frown marred his brow. “It’s empty.”

Had the knock on the head impaired his vision? He must be teasing. She chuckled. “No, it’s not.”

His gaze followed her pointing finger. “Holy Hell.”

The curse made her and Skittles jump. He stumbled away from the stall. What little color he had obtained in the last twenty-four hours drained from his face.

“Judson?”

Gasping for air, he leaned on the barn wall for support. “What happened to the tiny filly?”

She frowned as she glanced from him to the horse. “I don’t understand what you are asking.”

He struggled with swallowing before he asked, “Where’s the rest of her?”

“The rest of…?” A belly laugh grew and bubbled out from her lips. “Judson, haven’t you ever seen a miniature horse before?”

He shook his head. “Are they all like this?”

She chuckled. “Like what?”

“Short. Squatty. Not all there?”

Was he serious? The laughter died an untimely death in her throat as she noticed his features. He had to be. No way could she misinterpret the panic mirrored in his eyes. Her precious babies were creeping him out.

SPEED ROUND with N. Jade Gray!

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Also by N. Jade Gray:

Amazon  &  Barnes and Noble , and other online retailers

Amazon & Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers

Mitchell Reeves is in trouble. Someone is sabotaging his ranch, cattle are missing, his sister is testing her wings, and his quarrel with a neighboring rancher has heated to boiling. Adding a beautiful woman who claims to be from the future couldn't come at a worse time.

Computer programmer Rachel Morgan understands machines, but fails with the opposite sex. When a dog plays chicken with her car, her bad week becomes worse when she wakes to find herself in the past—in a very hunky, very delusional cowboy’s bed.
Time spent in Mitchell’s company causes an unexpected glitch in Rachel’s determination to get home. Love. Found in the most startling place and time. Could she go home, if she had the chance, without knowing his true feelings?

When unwanted attention from another man turns to kidnapping, Rachel is torn between wishing she were home… and risking it all for the love of a cowboy.

Pictures: L: N. Jade Gray, R: hike up Pagosa, Colorado

More from N. Jade Gray…

I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma with one sister and three brothers. I met my husband while attending college. After college I held various accounting positions and have worked as a legal assistant.  

I enjoy reading and have been writing stories since high school. Now that my family is grown, I'm working on writing and getting published. 

I am a former member of the Wichita Area Romance Authors and Romance Writers of America.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads ~ Bookbub

Karilyn Bentley's new release: The Shadowheart Curse (soon to be a movie!)

Welcome, Karilyn! I am delighted to host you today.

What do you write?

I write paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and fantasy romance. Most of my stories are novels, but some are novellas.

When did your writing journey begin?

Ever since I was little I've loved to make up stories, especially stories that mimicked Nancy Drew (can you tell what I liked to read as a kid? J). So it was only natural that I finally wrote a book in my thirties. That book is currently hiding under the bed, never to see the light of day. But I kept writing and about ten years ago entered the Got Wolf contest from The Wild Rose Press. My story placed, which meant my novella was put into an anthology. Super cool! I've been writing ever since!

Tell us about The Shadowheart Curse.

I'd love to! The Shadowheart Curse is part of the Deadly Ten series of movies. Ten books being made into ten movies! You can livestream the making of the movies. Pretty exciting! The Shadowheart Curse is one of those books and the only one that's a gothic romance (most of the others are horror). If you go to the DeadlyTen website, you can signup to watch the movies being made. Which is a great idea!

Read on for the blurb:

Escaping New York after a client’s untimely death, medium Adrianna Sinclair flees to her family property in Italy. All she wants is to avoid ghosts, but an attractive one tempts her in ways she never knew possible.  Luca Fausto has been trapped on the Romani property for over a century for a crime he didn’t commit.  Adrianna may be the answer to breaking the curse that keeps him bound.  Standing in their way is a demonic spirit's plan for revenge.  Will they prevail or will Luca be cursed to the shadows forever? 

What was the hardest part of the story to write/research?

My publisher was approached by the movie director about having me write his idea as a book that would then be turned into a movie. He had to approve my synopsis and I had to write certain scenes he had in mind. The story takes place at a remodeled Italian mill and he sent me pictures of where he would be filming. This was a totally different experience for this pantser, but I really enjoyed having a synopsis. It sped up the writing process. I also had to do a lot of online researching since I've never been to Italy and knew nothing about abandoned mills (BTW, look up abandoned Italian mills for interesting pictures and history!). It's been a fun experience to write this book!

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Now an EXCERPT:

Lights drew her attention to the opposite wing of the mill, where a man stood staring at her window. At her. Breath caught in her lungs as she froze.

But only for a brief moment until she realized it wasn’t a man, at least not a living one. Her breath escaped on a whoosh of relief. Intuition whispered the man was the spirit who’d watched her last night.

The one from her dream.

Shadows clung to his body, ghostly fingers releasing as he stepped into the dim slash of moonlight. Lights flickered from behind him, like the dying gasps of sputtering candles. Dressed in a white shirt with an old-fashioned high collar, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms, and dark trousers, he reminded her of a working man in a World War I photograph. As if he had removed his coat and tie and rolled up his sleeves to get to work.

Except the men in those photos didn’t sport the wide-eyed, happy look of this man. Ghost. Whatever. Yeah, he wasn’t the only one surprised. She’d sworn never to see a ghost again, yet there stood a ghost, captured by her gaze. The man was hot, in an old-fashioned way. At least he didn’t sport a handle-bar moustache.

He gestured to her, his hand beckoning in a “come here” motion.

She squeezed the bridge of her nose. Was she actually thinking of heading his way? Judging by the way her feet pointed toward the door, she’d already decided. Dammit. She might not want to see a ghost or speak to a spirit, but past experience told her if she ignored them, they ramped up the annoying factor.

How bad could it be to talk to an attractive spirit?

Karilyn Bentley's love of reading stories and preference for sitting in front of a computer at home instead of in a cube, drove her to pen her own works, blending fantasy and romance mixed with a touch of funny.

Her paranormal romance novella, Werewolves in London, placed in the Got Wolf contest and started her writing career as an author of sexy heroes and lush fantasy worlds.

Karilyn lives in Colorado with her own hunky hero, two crazy dogs, aka The Kraken and Sir Barks-A-Lot, and a handful of colorful saltwater fish.

 Where to find Karilyn:

Website ~ Newsletter ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest ~ BookBub

Laura Strickland's One Enchanted Scottish Knight

Welcome, Laura!

Hi, Jean, thanks for inviting me here today. When it comes to fiction, I write a little bit of everything. Though I started out with The Wild Rose Press writing full-length Scottish Historical Romance, I’ve since branched out into other Historical arenas such as Sherwood Forest and Viking stories, Fairy-tales, Historical Novellas, and some Contemporary Rom Com. I also created the world of Buffalo Steampunk Adventures, which now consists of seven Steampunk Romances, and is still growing. Those stories actually fit the category of Victorian Historical Romance. Before signing on with The Wild Rose Press, I wrote Mythic Celtic Historical tales.

What was your inspiration for One Enchanted Scottish Knight?

I kept seeing an image of a lass with long, dark hair, tied to a post at a crossroads. Who could save her, and why would he?

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From a young age, Tansy Bellrose Gant has been getting into trouble and wanting what she should not have. Just because she can make certain things happen by wishing doesn't mean she's a witch. But when she rashly curses a neighbor, her fellow villagers tie her to a stake at the crossroads and threaten to send her to the Royal Commission for trial.

Malcolm Montgomery is a man carrying an unbearable burden of guilt and obligation. The last thing he needs is an encounter with a troublesome wee lassie who just might be a witch. But once rescued, she won't go away. In fact, she insists on involving herself in his quest to ransom his brother, and she charms her way into his bed, as well.

Has Tansy merely enchanted him, or has she claimed his heart? When she faces the ultimate danger, how will love be enough to save her?

One Enchanted Scottish Knight: Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon CA ~ Kobo ~ Google ~ B&N

Do you find inspiration in your own life for your writing? 

I tend to find inspiration for my writing everywhere. We’re fortunate enough to live in the country, with woods and a stream close at hand. When I’m outside—usually with my dog, Lacy—I notice the magic all around us. It might be in the glint of a sharp crescent moon, a ragged weed blooming with beauty at the side of the road, or a soaring hawk. Stories are born.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

Inspiration for writing. Laura in Scotland.

Inspiration for writing. Laura in Scotland.

I struggled for years to get my work in front of publishers. I had enough rejection notices to wallpaper a good-sized room. When I discovered The Wild Rose Press, I studied their submission guidelines and decided to write a book to fit them. I wrote my Scottish Historical, Devil Black, with that in mind, submitted it and had it published in 2012. The truly ironic thing is, I work for a library system and at that time spent afternoons logging other people’s books into our database. It was bittersweet, seeing all those titles go by, before mine was accepted. But I kept telling myself, if others could succeed, so could I. I honestly believe a positive attitude (challenging, I know) is half the battle. 

Any new projects on the horizon?

I always have projects on the simmer. I just submitted the seventh Buffalo Steampunk Adventure to my editor, and I am editing my third fairy-tale. I‘ve also started working on a Fae Time Travel trilogy. I’ve never tried Time Travel before, so that should be fun.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

Believe in your work. If you don’t, no one else will.

How about Excerpt from the book?

This man wore darkness. She saw it in his hair—a fall of straight black locks loose upon his shoulders—and in the eyes that met hers briefly before he focused on her bloody hand.

She’d sensed that darkness in him when he rode down on the crossroads, a thing of spirit as much as appearance. Some great blackness rode within him. For all that, she sensed no cruelty. And och, aye, he carried beauty also.

Had she ever seen such a countenance? Narrow and elegantly-sculpted as that of a raptor, his face tapered from sharp cheekbones to a strong jaw now well-covered by black beard. Above those eyes—black as the gaze of a raven—slanted two eyebrows like wings, fleet and mobile. Even as she watched they drew together over his bulwark of a nose and black lashes swept down.

“Forgive me. I must have cut you when I slashed those ties. Let me see—how bad is it?”

He smoothed away the blood with strong, graceful fingers—touched her blood, her being—and Tansy quivered again. For an instant she felt so dizzy she feared she might tumble from the great horse’s back but the knight’s arm anchored her.

She found her voice. “A small price to pay, Sir Knight. Would you no’ say?”

That returned his eyes to hers. They gazed at one another so intimately, so deeply, Tansy felt a connection take hold between them.

Was that just the last remnant of the spell she’d woven, vibrating? She could not tell.

 

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Speed Round!

Oxford comma, yes or no? Yes!

Ice cream? Pistachio.

What is your writing vice or must-haves? A spiral notebook, and a BLUE ink pen.

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? Glen Etive, Scotland. Many of my books are set there.

You have a time travel machine: past of future? Where/when? The past, Iron Age Scotland.

If you could meet one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? Sir Terry Pratchett.

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Crack of dawn morning rooster.

What comes first, character or plot (or other)? A picture of a scene, in my mind.

You find a $100 bill in your purse/bag, what would you spend it on? Chocolate.

How many hours a day (or week) do you write? Not enough!

Find Laura online: Website ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

7 is a lucky number: Happy Birthday to The Chief's Proposal

7 is Sandra Dailey’s lucky number and The Chief’s Proposal is 7 years old. On sale for 99-cents through the entire month of August!!!

Ginny Dearing has finally realized her goal of teaching, but finding a position is proving impossible. After exhausting all possibilities, an Internet ad is her only hope. In a small town hundreds of miles away there is a job with one huge string attached...a husband. 

Burned by love once, Brett Silverfeather finds his bachelor life more than satisfying. He's facing re-election for sheriff, but this time the voters are looking for a family man. Brett finds himself pursuing a marriage he doesn't want.

Ginny and Brett are opposite in every way, but opposites do attract. Can Brett protect his heart as well as he does his town? Can Ginny hide a secret past that could possibly destroy her future?

How about an Excerpt?

“Why do we need a fire?” Ginny asked.

“We need all the elements.” Brett motioned toward the lake, the sky, the ground, and back to the fire as he said, “Water, air, earth and fire.”

“Is this a Native American thing?”

Brett lowered his head and shook it. It was becoming a gesture she recognized as him gathering patience. He did it a lot around her. “Yeah, in your language this would be called a truth telling.”

“What would your people call it?”

“A truth telling. Now will you pay attention?” Brett stretched out on the blanket with his head resting on his saddle. “Come down here and make yourself comfortable.”

Ginny copied his pose, and then asked, “What’s next?”

“I’m going to ask you a question and you have to answer it, honestly and completely. After that, I’ll answer a question you have. What is said will stay here when we leave.”

“What’s your question?” Brett turned his head to look at her. She’d never seen him look so serious.

“Why is it such a bad thing to be married to me? I know I’m no prize, but you look as if you’ve just received a death sentence.”

Ginny thought for a long moment. “I don’t know if it will be bad. I don’t really know you. I just hadn’t imagined myself being married to anyone, ever.”

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About the Author

From childhood I've moved from place to place, from Indiana to Florida, stopping in several places in between. I also moved from job to job; as a waitress, soldier, retail manager, dental assistant, etc.… The one thing I never had to leave behind was my imagination. Storytelling has always been my favorite way to pass time. I've often been told I should write a book. Finally, I did. It was so much fun: I felt I must write more, so I have. I've been a student of Long Ridge Writers Group and once won a short story contest with Harlequin. I currently live in North Florida with my husband, whom I torture with crazy story lines and half written manuscripts.

Project Dream by CJ Zahner: Inspired by life events...

Welcome CJ!

Inspired by life events.

Why this title to a blog post? Read on…

People say I have a wild imagination. I thought so, too—until I had a premonition of 9/11. (Hear about my 9/11 forewarning at Book Circle Online interview.) That premonition, a vacation, and other life experiences influenced my novel, Project Dream, as much as my sometimes-off-the-wall imagination.

Project Dream delves into prophetic dreaming, but its story is more coming-of-age than paranormal. It follows the lives of three teenagers thrust into unusual circumstances. And as crazy as this world is today, I believe its subject is not far-fetched.

We all know someone who has exceptional perception or unfounded intuition. This book is simply a “what-if” tale. What if the government identified young teens who had a sixth sense, tapped into the unused portion of their brains, and taught them to be more perceptive?

I once interviewed a renown psychic, Anne Gehman, for a freelance article. She said clairvoyance was like playing the piano. Some people sat down and played proficiently, some no matter how much they practiced would only be able to play Mary had a Little Lamb, and others who practiced hard became proficient over time.

With her words in the back of my mind, I wondered. What if young teens were taken away from their homes, enrolled in a dedicated school, and trained intensely? How proficient might they become? Crazy? Or just a twist in an older, real, twentieth-century adult project, the Stargate Program.

I turned the idea over in my head. Where would the government hide a covert program like that?

That’s when a vacation trip came into play. I had traveled from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Death Valley, California, and watched a barrage of endless, barren, roads slip by. Along the way, we passed the desolate terrain that bordered Area 51—and Project Dream’s site was claimed.  

Project Dream is the prequel to my novel, Dream Wide Awake, which tells the story of adults who learned remote viewing as teenagers, so they could protect the country after 9/11. I originally began writing the sequel to Dream Wide Awake but readers began asking what happened before Dream Wide Awake. When the characters were kids in the desert. Hence, my YA novel, Project Dream.

Do you believe it could happen? I never say never. And…some of my beta readers who have read this novel are asking: is this fiction?

Or another one of my crazy premonitions?

What happened to the kids in the desert?

In 2002, the CIA forced several teenagers out of detention centers and into a National Security Test Program called Project Dream. Teens selected had two characteristics: physical superiority and a sixth sense. 
When the awkward, unpopular, and destitute Izzy Jimenez is caught stealing clothes, authorities enroll her in the program for two reasons: Izzy swims like a fish—and she sees angels.
There she studies and works hard to perfect her clairvoyance hoping authorities will allow her to go home. But when she and the other students master remote viewing and produce results that stun White House officials, additional children—good kids from normal American families—are recruited. Izzy’s hope of going home dwindles.
Not until the striking, charismatic Rachel Callahan arrives and befriends Izzy does her life become bearable.
Project Dream is a coming-of-age story of teenagers thrown into the most unusual circumstances. Each struggle to survive their time in the desert with the goal of getting out and going home, but—can any of them really go home? 

Now for a SPEED ROUND with CJ:

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CJ Zahner

Top: Reading in an LA library.

Bottom: On the road to Death Valley.

 FIND CJ:

Website/blog:

CJ Zahner

Social Media links:

InstagramTwitter ~ LinkedInBook Circle Online interview ~ GoodreadsBookBub ~  Book Gorilla

Heart Storms by N. Christine Samuelson

Welcome to Visiting Authors, today N. Christine Samuelson! Tell us about what you write.

I write novels, poetry, and some short stories I’m starting to write again.--

Before Heart Storms, I’ve published two previous novels, Eternal Seas and Echoes of Love—both deal with eternal bonds of love that transcend time. Past lives and mystical elements are woven into contemporary characters and stories of love and relationship—the perils, fears, obstacles and courage to overcome, the power of the bonds of love in many forms.

Do you find inspiration in your own life for your writing?

Most of my inspiration is from life experiences and the people I’ve known from all walks of life. They, and the myriad places I’ve lived and traveled to are the springboard for my imagination—so many stories to tell.

Her latest release…Heart Storms

Heart Storms…

When three people’s lives collide in a perfect storm of heartbreak and ruin, betrayal and love, will they be destroyed or transformed by their fate? One woman and two men are drawn to coastal South Carolina to an oceanfront Victorian B & B inn. Jade Armstrong is newly divorced and left with nothing by her treacherous ex-husband. Gabriel Montoro is reeling from a cheating wife. Rick Stirling owns the inn and has suffered a devastating personal loss. Through work and friendship, their inner conflicts extend to each other while vying for the need for survival, healing, attraction and love.

None of them seek love or relationship, but as they move into and through the emotional storm of their lives, destiny brings them together in an extraordinary way. A charming oceanfront inn complete with mystical elements lifts the characters’ spirits and helps them on their journeys. Their passionate triangle must be broken for them to move on with their lives, but who ends up with whom, or do they, and when?

Find Heart Storms: Amazon ~ Barnes/Noble-Nook ~ Apple Books ~ Kobo

Now a little more about N. Christine with a SPEED ROUND:

Where can you find N. Christine online? ~  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Amazon Author  ~  BookBub  ~  Goodreads  ~  Instagram  ~  Newsletter Sign Up  ~

Where can you find N. Christine online? ~ Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Amazon Author ~ BookBub ~ Goodreads ~ Instagram ~ Newsletter Sign Up ~

Any words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches?

Photo of the beach where I walk that inspired the oceanfront setting for the inn in Heart Storms.

Photo of the beach where I walk that inspired the oceanfront setting for the inn in Heart Storms.

Writing and publishing are hard roads to pursue. But If you love to write, if it’s your passion, never give up. Envision coming to the end of your life and looking back—would you be okay with giving it up? If you’d regret it, then carry on.

Now for an excerpt!

Jade wandered through her days looking for clues to why and how the end came. Well-meaning friends tried to encourage her, but their words were lies because love did not conquer all, and time had not healed her. In her world, the road to hell wasn’t paved with gold but with a golden boy who took her straight there—to a hell of a life. And when all those doors slammed shut, God didn’t open a window, ‘the devil’ did.

Devlin. Jade used to love his name. It was unusual, strong and spoke of his Irish heritage. She assumed the man, Devlin Donoghue, would be the same—as honorable as a hero in medieval times fighting to the death for his woman, family, and freedom. But Devlin was the antithesis of good things. … His name was unspeakable now, like poison on her tongue. So instead of seeing ‘Devlin’ written on the paper, …she saw only ‘Devil.’ Now there’s a name perfectly suited to him. Since that day, Jade referred to him only when necessary, and only as ‘the devil’—the intentional cause of pain and destruction, the epitome of evil.

***

Gabriel had nowhere to run or hide from the relentless demons howling through his life. They made demands of his days he couldn’t fulfill. No matter how good he was or acted, his life seemed predestined for trouble and heartbreak. In trying to change his situation, worse circumstances arose. He ran from a culture he loved and respected but had also caused pain and torment. The deepest truth, though, simmered underneath the obvious facts—Gabriel knew he’d never have a life of goodness, of love and family. Those things were fairytales in books and movies. He’d never witnessed those good things in real life and, since Consuela, for sure they didn’t happen to people like him.

***

The destruction of Jade’s life by a devious, conniving husband didn’t happen to people like her. She’d always been a loving, hard-working, devoted daughter and wife who deserved better than what she got.

At twenty-seven, instead of living the dream they planned, Jade lived alone in a studio apartment, in a nightmare where questions screamed through her dreams. Where are you… How could you do this? Why did you do it? Every day, rage tumbled down her life like a waterfall. Come back… fix this… make it right! Her world stood still while a vortex of depression sucked out her life force, replaced by a new emotion—hate. With all the good she was and did, she received the opposite in return. But for all the agony and loss the devil wrought, he didn’t get an ounce of it back. As far as Jade saw, only good things went back to him. How is that fair in the laws of the universe, the eyes of God, or in the karmic balance of right and wrong? Jade decided if those things wouldn’t balance the scales of justice, she would. She’d pay back ‘the devil.’ Retribution and vengeance—previously unknown concepts in her world—now thundered through her every waking moment as she vowed revenge.

The Stone Awakened by Judith Sterling

Judith Sterling is visiting with me today.

She is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes.  Whether penning medieval romance (The Novels of Ravenwood) or young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), her favorite themes include true love, destiny, time travel, healing, redemption, and finding the hidden magic which exists all around us.  She loves to share that magic with readers and whisk them far away from their troubles, particularly to locations in the British Isles.

Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.

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Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another. Now the mystery of her parents' disappearance seems unsolvable. Are they dead or only missing? No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue. Hope and fear war inside her, but she's determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings. Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.

Ashling could use a little help herself. She's struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too. Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer. One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.

As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within.

Find The Stone Awakened online: Amazon, BN, iBooks and Kobo

Welcome, Judith. Tell us what you write.

I broke into publishing with two nonfiction books about paranormal topics, written under Judith Marshall.  Now I write novels, two different series at the moment:  Guardians of Erin (YA paranormal fantasy) and The Novels of Ravenwood (medieval romance).

When did your writing journey begin?

My mom taught me to read and write before kindergarten, so I wrote my first story (albeit short) at age 3.  Chapter stories followed in elementary school, and I’ve been writing ever since.

Do you find inspiration in your own life for your writing? 

Absolutely!  I’ve lived in several places overseas, traveled a lot, and had some amazing experiences, which inevitably find their way into my writing.  But there’s a lot of imagination involved, too!

What’s on the horizon?

I just signed the contract for Night of the Owl, the fourth book in my medieval romance series.  I’m currently writing The Sword Unsheathed, the third book in my young adult series.  The medieval romance series will have 5 books total; the YA series, 4.  Once I’ve finished both series, I’ll write a gothic mystery series, the first book of which I’ve already outlined.

Find Judith online:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads  ~  BookBub  ~  Amazon Author Page

Let’s dig deeper with an excerpt…

A sudden gust whistled along the deserted corridor to my right. I turned as a robed figure disappeared up a winding stairwell.

            “Fear not.”

            Startled, I whirled back around toward the velvety voice. Lorcan! Clad in black like a character out of a 19th-century romance, he peeked out from behind a stone pillar.

            “He’s merely a monk. That is, he was.” His ice blue eyes were intense, even in the soft light.

            I swallowed hard. “Why are you here?”

            “Why are you?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “Don’t you?” Leaving the cloister, he sauntered toward me.

            My pulse quickened. He was every bit as handsome and alluring as Aengus, and my mutinous body knew it. No. Aengus is the one for me. Only Aengus. I grasped for an explanation, an excuse that would lighten the weight of guilt dragging me down. I’m asleep, and this is all just a dream.

            Lorcan stopped an arm’s length away. “You’re here because I was thinking of you. And I’m here because earlier, you stood right in this spot thinking of me.”

            I regarded him through narrowed eyes. “You spied on us?”

            “Don’t you think I could’ve felt it?”

            “That’s not a straight answer. And I don’t know you well enough to guess what you could or couldn’t feel.”

            His pupils encroached on the lighter blue. “Your soul knows me.”

Thanks for joining us today, Judith!




 

Love Proof by Luanna Stewart (the latest in the Deerbourne Inn series)

I’m back with another highlight from The Wild Rose Press Deerbourne Inn Series. This time, it’s Love Proof by Luanna Stewart. I am in the middle of reading this sweet (literally…a bakery owner!) and sexy contemporary novella. Stay tuned for my review!

Let’s jump right in. What’s Love Proof about?

Unemployed photojournalist Raynor Elliot stops at a bakery near the famous Deerbourne Inn. Not only does he get a lead on a job but the bakery’s owner is that awkward kid he knew in high school, only now she has fabulous curves and an irreverent sense of humor. The cozy bakery, with its aroma of sugar, vanilla and spice, has more to offer than tasty cookies.

Fiona MacLeod has been plagued for years by the need to make amends for telling The Big Lie. When the lie’s victim strolls into her bakery with his icy blue stare and killer charm, she feels like she’s standing too close to a hot oven.

Between running her bakery and frosting cupcakes for the Mad River Garden Party, she's pretty sure she's falling in love with this infuriating, sexy man. Can Fiona dredge up the courage to confess, face the consequences, and hope for forgiveness?

Welcome, Luanna!

What inspired this (specific) story?

When I discovered the town of Willow Springs didn’t have a bakery, I knew I’d found the perfect occupation for my heroine. Fiona runs a small bakery, Love Sprinkles, that specializes in cupcakes and bar cookies. I was constantly hungry whilst writing because a lot of sweets are discussed and described in the story. Since I enjoy baking, I decided to include a couple recipes in the book in case readers got hungry, too.

What did you discover while writing this story?

I discovered I enjoy writing in an established story world. Most of the world building was already done, saving me from having to create neighbourhoods, streets, and landmarks. I just needed to incorporate the details into my book. Not being able to control ALL the characters in town, because they belonged to other authors, was a bit of a challenge but it was fun none the less.

Tell us one unique thing about you many might not know.

Since I’m published in only contemporary and historical romance, many people don’t know I also write paranormal romance. I’ve always been fascinated by Wicca and paganism, and I have a few books waiting in the wings. As soon as I have a spare minute…ha!

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Time for an EXCERPT from Love Proof:

“I remember those days.” She pushed the calculator to the side, too tired to worry about planning the week’s baking schedule. “Why’d you study journalism?

“Truth is important to me. I was tired of all the lies in government, at every level. I wanted to change that. Ultimately make the world a better place. Easy peasy, right?” His lips quirked and he shook his head.

“That’s why I decided to be a baker. Brighten someone’s day with a special treat.”

He scooted his chair closer and pointed at the column of numbers on the page. “You want me to do the rest?” His arm, bare to the bicep, lightly tanned, dusted with blond hair, a little lighter than on his head, rested less than an inch from her own spindly pale arm. Not spindly compared to other women, hefting bags of flour and moving trays of baked goods did take some muscle power. But spindly compared to his manly toned muscles flexing under skin that she’d bet her last jar of sprinkles was smooth and warm. She clenched her hand.

No touching allowed.

“We have cupcakes to frost.” She bounded from the chair and rushed into the kitchen.

Holy moly, the guy oozed sex. In a good way. A very good way. She pulled a clean apron off the shelf and cinched it around her waist. An extra layer of armor between her and temptation in the form of Raynor. The seeker of truth. The man whose mission in life was to expose lies. The reporter who thought liars were not decent human beings.

FIND LOVE PROOF:

Amazon US ~ Amazon CA ~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon AU ~ Kobo ~ Nook

About Luanna…

Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. At the tender age of twelve she discovered her grandmother's stash of romance novels, after which all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.

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Luanna spends her days writing sexy romantic suspense, steamy paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance. When she's not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s either in her kitchen baking something delicious, or protecting her garden from the chickens. She lives in Nova Scotia with her incredibly patient husband and two spoiled cats.

Website ~ Bookbub ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon Author Page

 

Inspiration, Desperation, and Perseverance with D.V. Stone

Thank you for inviting me. It’s an honor to be here. My name is D. V. Stone, and I am a multiple-genre writer. Like many of today authors, I juggle also being a wife, mother, grandmother, and full-time medical receptionist. It’s exciting, exhausting and I wouldn’t change anything, except I’m looking forward to retirement.

Always an avid reader, my mother will tell you, from the time I was a toddler, dolls and other toys never interested me. I’m sure many will recall The Little Golden Books. They were my first. Children’s classics soon followed. Heidi and Black Beauty were two of my favorites. Who can remember dreaming about Misty of Chincoteague? Horse books were, and still are, a favorite and often important in my fantasy books.

The first book I ever wrote is a High Fantasy/Romance and its still a work in progress. Other books have beat Aimhirghin to the finish line. Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar and Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake are independently published. A third novel, Rock House Grill, is under contract with The Wild Rose Press. Rock House is contemporary romance and will be published in their sweet line. It still has several months in development.

 Today I’d love to talk about the experience of how I came to write Aimhirghin, Kingdom at a Crossroad. Where my inspiration came from, and the long road it’s been on.

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Inspiration

Through what was a difficult time of unemployment about seven years ago, I found a silver lining. Finally, there was time to write. But what? After floundering around stopping and starting with vague ideas, the thought of taking a break sounded good. Some of my go-to movies are the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Frustrated, I plugged in the movie. Then it happened during The Two Towers. The Aha moment, when you know. The scene was in Helm’s Deep. One of the elves, Haldir, freezes when Aragorn gives him a hug. The look on his face inspired Kieran, Prince of Ath Dara. The wonderful question arose—What if?

Desperation

From conception to bookshelf is usually a long and often frustrating journey for authors. Aimhirghin has been a work in progress for seven years. I confess, though I love the characters and story, the manuscript is overblown and poorly written. I knew nothing about the craft when starting.   Learning how to write books is as important as the concept. Command of grammar and punctuation often eludes. I can’t tell you how many times I think I have it right, and a critique or edit comes back.

Perseverance

Here I am seven years later. Aimhirghin still has a folder on my desktop. The size of the work is intimidating, the writing amateurish, but one day, she will be in my complete folder. Certainly, I’ve moved on to work on other projects since, but deep down she’s my first baby, and in my retirement, it’s going to happen.

SPEED ROUND TIME!

Coffee or tea or wine?

Yes, to all three, but you forgot Hot Chocolate.

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What does your desk look like?

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My wonderful husband built my library several years ago. This is where I spend most of my writing time. But if the weather is nice, I will move out on to the deck. 

What do you like to do when not writing?

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I mentioned retirement. This is how we're going to do it. We chose this 5th Wheel because it has what’s called a bunkhouse in the rear. Not only can we have guests, but it will also be my office on the road. Her name is 2Hoots. We’ve already been to Florida, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. We have several more trips planned this summer.

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This leads to my favorite activity while camping or glamping as some call it. One of my goals is to master open fire cooking. Worst failure was burned pizza. Best so far—I’m famous for my ribs.

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? 

I want to be this color in all its variations. This is a fungus I found while walking in the woods and so many variations of yellow, orange, and brown. 

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And one last thing before I go just because she’s so pretty. Meet Hali. She rescued us in January and has a message.

“Woof.” Translates adopt, foster, donate to your local shelters and rescues.

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One foolish thought. One brutal act. Instead of a peaceful alliance–war.
From the shifter nation of Dar, Felice carries a peace accord. A treaty will bind her sister to Abelard, Prince of Argatha–a human–and forge an alliance between Dar and Argatha. An attack by rogue soldiers sets off a chain of events, binding Felice to Abelard her sister’s betrothed. While her new Shield-Mate chips away at the walls around her heart, Felice struggles to maintain control over her life–something she and her inner Panter have fought hard to attain.
Responsibility for the dying Emissary lies heavy on Abelard’s shoulders. Abelard is a good soldier, but not, he realizes a good man. Felice is the catalyst that brings him purpose. War comes, but not the one expected. An invasion from an old enemy thrusts shifters and humans together–they must unite or each may fall. Amid treachery and chaos, love blooms and Abelard and Felice must come to terms with the past if their love is to survive.

Agent Sam Carter of G.A.S.P., or the Government Anti Spector Program, is called away from vacation to the small Community of Branch Lake.
Someone, or something, is breaking into the summer cabins, and indications are it may not be humans.
Join Agent Carter, Sheriff Holly Stone, and Uncle Martin in the sometimes crazy adventure in the mystery of Branch Lake.

D.V. Stone lives in Northern NJ. She has two books published independently through Amazon. Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar is a fantasy romance. Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake is a mid-grade paranormal. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and New Jersey Romance Writers.

Using her past experience as an Emergency Medical Technician and owner of a small restaurant she combined the two and during National Novel Writing Month developed the Rock House Grill. Rock House will be the first book in the Impact Series and published by Wild Rose Press. 

With her husband Peter, dog Hali, and cat Baby, new adventures are before them traveling in their RV. Taking her passion for writing on the road, she knows ideas and inspiration are everywhere.

Maybe you too have the wanderlust and will meet her on the road. 

Crime Times Two by Julie Howard

Welcome, Julie! Thanks for coming back to my blog.

Take advantage of the sale now on  Amazon .

Take advantage of the sale now on Amazon.

First things first, did you all know that Julie’s second book in her series, Crime Times Two is on sale for 99 cents!? Grab it now while you can: Amazon.

Welcome back, Julie! Tell us about what you write.

My true love is in writing novels. I love the ability to build up a plot and lead the reader along with plot twists. I do fall in love with my characters and want to stay in their world as long as possible too.

That being said, I also write flash fiction, short stories and novellas. I’ve even written a number of “ten-word stories,” where you have to convey an entire story in just ten words (challenging, but fun!).  I also wrote non-fiction as a journalist. So, I’ve worked in virtually all areas of writing. Novels, though, give me the most satisfaction and joy.

When did your writing journey begin?

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember and have always wanted to be a novelist. When I got to college, they didn’t have a degree in being an author – and my parents wanted me to be able to earn a living – so I got a degree in journalism. The upside of that I did become a writer for a living, and I enjoyed meeting a variety of people, from business executives to celebrities. However, I never lost the desire to write fiction, and one of the best moments of my life was getting my first contract!

What was your inspiration for your Wild Crime series?

I lived mostly in urban areas so moving to Idaho was quite a change. My home is in Boise, which is definitely urban, but a vast portion of the state is uninhabited, forested and wild. I’m always amazed to find little outposts far back, miles down dirt roads, that are cut off during the winters. My imagination started churning soon after we moved here. I wondered who chooses to live in such isolated areas and what would happen if a woman didn’t want to be there. I created a character, gave her a worst-case scenario, and started writing.

Do you find inspiration in your own life for your writing?

I’m sure there’s a piece of me in every one of my characters. But I also draw liberally from everyone I know and come across. I’m afraid I have no boundaries when it comes to finding inspiration for my characters. A friend’s sweater with a hole in the sleeve made it in one book, and a wine merchant’s long hair and happy dance made it in too. These are just pieces of people though and not representational of them at all; I suppose all writers steal from life in one way or another.

Certainly, though, the biggest influence tends to be the environment and culture in which I live. I’ve lived in three states (California, Nevada and now Idaho) and all three are very different. The terrain impacts people’s lifestyles and how they make their living, so my books reflect that. I’m fascinated by how unique people are in various areas of the country.

Julie visiting Italy (check out the handsome soldier behind her), fire lookout tower in the Idaho wilderness, Irish castle with her son Trevor, and a walk with her dog in California.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

I sent my first book, Crime and Paradise, to a number of agents first. I received a fair amount of interest but no one offered a contract. An author friend suggested that small presses might be the way for a new author to go. I sent my manuscript to two small presses and one of them was The Wild Rose Press, who responded positively almost immediately. I love working with them! They’ve been so encouraging and helpful every step of the way.

Any new projects on the horizon?

Julie’s novella in the Deerbourne Inn series, a paranormal romance called Spirited Quest just came out this year, and she’s writing the third book in her Wild Crime series. Each of the Wild Crime series are great stand-alone books as well as an awesome trilogy.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

Don’t focus on getting published until your manuscript is done and edited. Write the best story you can and give it everything you have. The story deserves your best work. I meet a lot of writers who obsess about the publishing side when they don’t even have a first draft completed. I think that is a distraction that can sideline writers from their main work.

What was the hardest part of the story to write/research?

I write murder mysteries so I have to get the law enforcement and medical parts right. I end up googling so many strange things, like what does a morgue look like, or what would happen when a bullet hits someone’s head. Awful stuff! My novels aren’t gruesome – I avoid the gory details – but I’d need to know if a body would be recognizable in a morgue, for instance. If I don’t get it right, my editor will let me know!

 A bit more about Crime Times Two

“When divorce is out of the question, can murder be forgiven?”

Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.

While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn't talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder. 

As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…

She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?

Excerpt from Crime Times Two:

Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.

Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.

Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”

The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.

He shook his head, morose.

“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”

 Where can you find Julie?

Facebook & her website

Speed Round!

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About Julie

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.

Love Calls You Home (Deerbourne Inn) by Donna Simonetta

It’s June and with it comes two more new Deerbourne Inn releases! First up, Love Calls You Home by Donna Simonetta. I just finished reading this delightful novella. It drew me in right away: a woman who left her sleepy, cold New England town (hey, I live in New England and can relate!) for a blooming sunny career and life in Miami...but work calls her back home. Psst…a new love interest does, too!

Welcome, Donna!

What inspired this (specific) story?

When the Wild Rose Press put out the call for stories for their Deerbourne Inn series, the idea for Love Calls You Home came to me right away. When I began to write it, the story just flowed, and it was the fastest writing experience I’ve ever had.

(Jean side note: Me, too! Fastest story I’ve written, and it slammed it to me so quickly like a train! What a ride the Deerbourne series has been [in a good way]!)

What did you discover while researching/writing this book?

Since this is a series being written by lots of different authors, the publisher has a “bible” for the fictional town and some local characters. My original idea involved a woman who was the town librarian and her male childhood best friend, who is now a real estate developer. However, when I saw the series bible, the librarian was a man. I decided to go with my original story premise, but flip the genders, and I think it actually made for a more interesting story.

Tell us one unique thing about you people might not know.

Writing is actually my third career; before this I worked as an Account Executive for many years in the business world, and was a school librarian for even longer. Here’s the part that is more unique…my husband was my client when I was an Account Executive, and I actually got to know him over the phone before we met in person. He lived in Georgia at the time, and I lived in Connecticut. If one of my friends told me they met someone that way, I would think they were crazy! But we’ve been married for almost twenty-two years now, and together for a few before that, so it worked out for us!

Anything else you'd like to add?

This has been my first experience writing a story in a shared world, and it’s been great to get to work with so many fabulous authors on the Deerbourne Inn project!

(Jean again: I ditto that!)

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Stephanie Williams left skid marks on the road out of Willow Springs, Vermont after she finished high school. She didn't return until her company sent her to evaluate the town for a massive development project. Back then she thought the town was way too small and too cold. Now the cold isn't as much of an issue since she's reconnected with her childhood friend, Donald Flanagan. Stephanie doesn't remember his eyes being quite so green, or his body quite so built. He's smart and funny as he ever was, and a forest-fire sized attraction burns between them.

Donald never understood his old friend's driving need to leave Willow Springs. He loves everything about it. When he learns the truth about Stephanie's project, and how it will turn his hometown into a theme-park version of itself, will it extinguish the flame that has sparked between them?

Find the book online:

Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Apple iBooks

What do you usually write?

I mainly write novels, although Love Calls You Home is a novella. It is part of the Wild Rose Press Deerbourne Inn series, and is the first novella I’ve written. It was a fun challenge to fit everything in the shorter length, but I think I’ll stick to mostly novels.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process. 

I tried to find an agent with the first book I wrote. I sent out five queries and thought, “Let the bidding war begin!” Instead, I received my first rejection within half an hour. I didn’t let it discourage me (for too long, at least!) and continued writing and querying. That book, or the one that followed it, have never seen the light of day. With my third novel, Angels Fly, I still didn’t have any agent interest, so I decided to submit it directly to publishers, and was thrilled to have it picked up by the Wild Rose Press. Seriously. Thrilled. One of the best moments of my life!

(Jean: I agree! I also went down a similar path!)

What lies ahead for you?

I’m currently actively working on three projects. Love Calls You Home was on June 12, 2019, the third book in my Rivers Bend trilogy, What Was I Thinking?, is with my editor for the first round of revisions/edits, and I am also writing the first draft of another book. The last is tentatively titled Spirits Desire, and is a contemporary romance set in Richmond, Virginia, with a ghostly aspect to it. I’m really proud and excited about it! Fingers crossed that a publisher will want it, and y’all will get to read it some day!

Speed-dating round!

Ice cream (favorite flavor)? Coffee

Coffee or tea or wine? All three, just not at the same time!

What is your writing vice or must-haves?  I love colored pens, notebooks, and my laptop.

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? My happy place is the Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete Beach.

What do you like to do when not writing?  Reading, watching TV (I’m addicted to ghost-hunting reality shows), and chilling on the beach is my all-time favorite thing to do, when I can.

Beach, lake, or mountains?  Beach all the way!

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Morning rooster. As the day fades, so do I.

What comes first, character or plot (or other)?  I start with detailed character profiles, although I have a general idea about the direction of the plot.

Favorite childhood book?  Nancy Drew!

Now for an Excerpt!

It was much darker on this side of the building, without the bright, neon lights around the entrance, and even though they could hear the muffled music through the wall, it felt as though they were all alone in the world. Donald stopped and turned to face her, which placed her between him and the building. He cupped her face in his hands, and Stephanie marveled that she’d never noticed how big his hands were before. He leaned down a little and studied her face. His eyes seemed to be searching for a clue as to what she wanted. There were complications aplenty––putting their lifelong friendship at risk, and her work here in town, which Donald still didn’t know the extent of, being two major hurdles, but Stephanie knew what she wanted right now. She knew it from the bottom of her toes to the top of her head, with a certainty she’d never experienced before. Her blood pounded in her veins, and she felt a little breathless with excitement about the step they were about to take.

“Hurry up and kiss me, Flanagan, before I spontaneously combust.”

One side of the mouth she longed to be kissing quirked up in a sexy half-grin. “There’s no turning back if we take this step, Williams. Are you sure?”

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Runaway Love Story by Sadira Stone

Welcome, Sadira, to the Visiting Authors corner.

Tell us about the inspiration for this Runaway Love Story.

This is the second in a steamy contemporary romance series set in Eugene, Oregon. Why Eugene? I’ll admit I sort of pulled the location out of a hat, having heard what a great college town it is. Since then, I’ve made several visits to this fascinating small city with its lively arts scene and a funky vibe dating back to the hippie era.

Known as Track Town, U.S.A., Eugene is the perfect setting for a story featuring two runners. Alas, knee injuries mean no more running for me, but I had such fun running vicariously through Doug and Laurel along the lovely green banks of the Willamette River.

Laurel comes to Eugene to help her 90-year-old Great Aunt Maxie (my favorite character) move into assisted living. She takes a temporary job at Book Nirvana, a fictional indie bookshop featured in the first book in the series, Through the Red Door. I came to love the shop and the characters working there (including Lulu the shop cat) so much that I couldn’t bear to leave them behind.

Eugene’s colorful, quirky Whiteaker District inspires lots of artistic characters for this series. Funky cottages and graceful Victorian houses, breweries and food trucks, mature trees and eclectic shops, it’s the perfect place to wander and dream.

(note from Jean: I love this story idea! And especially bringing those secondary characters — whom seem to grab a hold of our hearts! — into the picture again!)

Photo inspiration (from L to R): DeFazio Pedestrian bridge, leading to Alton Baker Park (in Eugene, Oregon), mural from Eugene, Oregon’s Whiteaker neighborhood, ,and a running path alongside the Willamette River

Tell us a bit about your other work and what lies on the horizon.

Book One in the series, Through the Red Door, features Clara, widowed owner of Book Nirvana, as she struggles to save her indie bookshop from rising rents and corporate competition. Her best chance: the shop’s historical erotica collection, curated by her late husband and kept behind a locked red door. A year after Jared’s death in a cycling accident, she faces pressure from concerned friends to move past her self-imposed isolation and dip her toes into the dating pool. Two men enter her life: a suave, seductive professor looking for research materials, and a gentle, athletic teacher who reminds her of Jared. Through dreams and signs, Jared tells Clara it’s time to move forward, but with which man?

I’m currently writing Book Three in the series, which features Margot, Clara’s young shop assistant, and Elmer, a character introduced in Runaway Love Story. Great-Aunt Maxie calls Margot “Tinkerbell on a Harley.” A petite, determined, spiky-haired, tattooed spitfire whose intolerant family try to squash her spirit, this aspiring graphic artist finds herself competing—with a flirtatious, buff, ginger-bearded potter—for an arts grant that could launch her career. When she surrenders to their magnetic attraction, things get complicated.

Now for the BLURB:

Available NOW online:  Amazon ,  Barnes & Noble ,  Apple Books ,  Google Play ,  Kobo

Speed-dating Round

Oxford comma, yes or no? Yes  

Coffee or tea or wine? Yes, please. No wine while writing, though.

What does your desk look like? I have an adjustable sit-stand topper on my big, messy desk, and one of those squishy floor mats beneath it. Heaven for my feet!

Describe a perfect writing day. I roll out of bed at 7:30 (such a luxury after years of pre-dawn wake-ups for my teaching career), pull on yoga pants and a T-shirt, pour coffee, and dive in. With only short breaks to eat and refill my mug, I work straight through until early afternoon. Then I hit the gym, take a walk, or pull some weeds. If my afternoon is free, I take care of writing-adjacent chores.

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? I’m torn between running a bookshop or a dance studio. Perhaps I could combine them?

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? For 17 years I lived in Wuerzburg, Germany, a lovely city on the Main River surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. There’s a Baroque palace in town and a medieval castle on the hill. I miss it every day.

What do you like to do when not writing? play darts, play guitar and ukulele, belly dance, and read lots of romance, mystery, and memoir

Last but not least, an excerpt…

“I’m sorry she called you the S word.”

  “Huh?”

  “Sensible.”

           She laughed. “Yeah. That’s a curse word, as far as I’m concerned.” She leaned her head on his shoulder. 

           “I’ll strike it from my vocabulary. Your S word is sparkle.” He traced her jawline with a feather-light touch. “Look at you, Laurel. You’re blinding.” His twilight-blue gaze made her heart dance—a steamy tango with swirls and dangerous dips. He kissed her, and, for a moment, she forgot all about caution, about cutting things off before they became too serious, about San Francisco. Her focus narrowed to his lips on hers, his nearness heating her whole body, opening her like a blossom, soft and willing. Ripe for the plucking.

           “God, I’ve missed you.” He scooped her legs across his lap. One hand cradling her nape, the other gripping her thigh, he kissed her senseless. His velvet tongue teased her lips apart. He tasted of sugary coffee. The world around them faded—just two bodies, calling and answering, breathing in sync, their pulses beating the same rhythm.

Sadira Stone’s BIO:

Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance and cozy mysteries from her home in Washington State. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, belly dances, plays guitar badly, and gobbles all the books. Visit Sadira at www.sadirastone.com.

Burning Love (99 cents sale!!) by Jana Richards

Welcome back to Visiting Authors, Jana!

Let’s talk about your new release, Burning Love, which has an e-book sale of 99 cents running from June 14 - 28! Where can we get our hands on this sweet novella?

You can find it online: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | B & N | Bookstrand | Google Play | Kobo | iBooks | Walmart

Fabulous! How about a blurb?

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Burning Love…

After causing three cooking fires in her apartment, Iris Jensen finds herself evicted and homeless. She lands on Riley Benson's doorstep, looking to rent a room in the beautiful old home he's restoring. It's only for six weeks until Iris leaves Portland, Oregon for her new job on a cruise ship. Firefighter Riley knows firsthand what a bad tenant she can be. But he needs money to finish the work on the house he loves. And something about Iris pulls at his heart…

Meanwhile, in Heaven, two angels watch over the young lovers. Angelica and Hildegard work in Heaven's Relationship Division, where angels match mortals with their soul mates. The angels believe so strongly in Iris and Riley’s love that they break Heaven's rules to help them. Can the angels convince them their love will last a lifetime?

And a sneak peek into the book…

“Renting the room to you is starting to look like one of the smartest things I’ve done lately,” he said with a smile.

Without thinking she set the boxes on the fridge and took his hand. “I’m serious, Riley. I don’t mind telling you how scared I was. Whiskers and I came very close to sleeping on a bench in the park with the other vagrants. So, thank you.”

Riley gently brushed his fingers across her cheek, sending a rush of desire coursing through her body. “You’re welcome. But I know you would have been okay, even if I hadn’t rented you the room. You’re a strong girl.”

Iris didn’t feel very strong at the moment. In fact, she felt as weak as a kitten, and just as vulnerable. She let go of Riley’s hand and gave a shaky laugh.

“Yeah, that’s me. Strong as a marshmallow.” She picked up the boxes of food and turned away, afraid to look him in the eye and make a fool of herself.

“Hey, what’s this?” Riley asked. Iris turned to see him staring at her calendar.

“That’s just a little visual reminder for me. Only five more weeks until I hit the sunshine and you get rid of me.”

Instead of laughing the way she thought he would, Riley continued to stare at the calendar.

“Right,” he said. “Only five more weeks.”

She wanted to ask him if he was okay, but something in his voice stopped her. Surely, he wouldn’t miss her?

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with an elderly Pug/Terrier named cross Lou. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

Follow Jana online: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Author Page, Amazon UK Author Page, Newsletter Signup, Goodreads, Bookbub