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

For This Knight Only by Barbara Bettis

****ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF FOR THIS KNIGHT ONLY. HOW? Comment below. One random person will be drawn.****

Barbara Bettis is with us today sharing about her latest medieval romance release. We know I have a soft spot for medieval books!

Welcome, Barbara!

Thanks for hosting me on your blog today, Jean.  Glad you have a moment to catch your breath after you’ve released three books so closely together. I’m hoping to ramp up the speed of my future ones. :)

Tell me about For This Knight Only.

This book, Roark and Alyss’s story, was a long time coming. It’s actually the first novel I wrote, but like many first books, it spent a good long while figuratively under the bed. In reality, it was tucked in a folder on my desktop—a sadly over-long historical that I used to joke contained everything but the kitchen sink. I learned a lot from that first version, and I came away with loads of advice on how Not to write a book.  (Thank goodness for a sense of humor.)

That sounds like some of my first books (on a writable CD somewhere…). So this was your first written but not published. What came after you shoved this one in a folder?

My next three novels involved Alyss’s acquaintances and family in some way—brother, sister, friends. But I never completely got away from that first one because I loved the plot and I had absolutely come to love the characters. They just didn’t want to stay in the background.

This one refused to stay hidden.

Finally, I liberated the manuscript from its folder and started editing…and revising, which included lots of rewriting. And I cut some 15,000 words and at least two sub-plots from the original.

The result is one of my very favorite books. I still adore Roark and Alyss, even the villain, Paxton. I had such fun with all of them, I may have written ‘The End,” but they’ll always be close to my heart.

Thanks for featuring them here.

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He’ll do anything for land, even marry her; she’ll do anything for her people, except marry him. If only either had a choice. It’s a marriage only love can save.

Sir Roark will do anything to gain land, even beguile an unwilling lady into marriage. He knows she’s much better off with a man to take control of her besieged castle, to say nothing of her desirable person. But it isn’t long before he discovers that, although her eyes sparkle like sunlight on sea waves, her stubbornness alone could have defeated Saladin.

Lady Alyss is determined to hold her family’s castle, protect her people, and preserve her freedom— until her brother’s dying wish binds her to a stranger. Still, she’ll allow no rugged, over-confident, appealing knight to usurp her authority, even if she must wed him. Especially since he thinks a lady’s duties begin and end with directing servants. Alyss has a few surprises for her new all-too-tempting lord.

But when a common enemy threatens everything, Roark and Alyss face a startling revelation. Without love, neither land nor freedom matters.

Find online: Amazon   B&N   iTunes

A deeper look into For This Knight Only

What would it take to persuade her to marry him? A sudden pain burst between his legs, and he gasped, eyes blurry. The little hell-cat kneed him. Even though chain mail deflected some of the impact, he used every bit of his willpower to remain standing.

Apparently persuasion took more than a kiss.

He drew a steadying breath. “You don’t understand, my lady. You will be my wife before

the sun sets. It was your brother’s dying wish. It was my pledge to a comrade.”

By God, he’d begun to believe it himself.

Alyss met him toe to toe. “This morning I had never seen you, and by tonight, you                             

think I will marry you?” 

Her head tilted back and she glared into his eyes. “Were you, perhaps, wounded in the head during a fight? Have you lost your senses as well as your hearing? How do you propose to force me to the altar? With your army?”

With an exaggerated look around, she nodded at Alain. “Ah, yes. There it is. Impressive to be sure.”

Turning from Roark, she said, “Sir Baldwin, see that these two knights are outside

the gates by sundown. Call every man in the garrison to help, if need be. I want them gone.”

Head high as if confident her word would be enforced immediately, she strode to the

stairway.

Frowning, Sir Baldwin started forward. Roark lifted a hand to halt him. He glanced at

Alain, then back to Alyss. “One moment, my lady. Hear me out.”

She continued to walk, but everyone in the hall had no trouble hearing her. “Unless you

intend to apologize, you can say nothing that will interest me.”

Roark had known this would not be easy, but he had expected the female to at least listen to reason.

An obedient, well-behaved lady is how Sir Godfrey described her. An excellent housekeeper, but

helpless to defend herself if her menfolk were all dead. Obedient, well-behaved. Helpless.

That Lady Alyss wasn’t this Lady Alyss.

More about Barbara…

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Award-winning author Barbara Bettis has always loved history and English. As a college freshman, she considered becoming an archeologist until she realized there likely would be bugs and snakes involved. And math. Through careers as a newspaper reporter and editor, then a college journalism and English professor, she’s retained her fascination with history. Give her a research book and a pot of tea, and she’s happy for hours. But what really makes her smile is working on a new story. Now retired, she lives in Missouri where she spins tales of heroines to die for—and heroes to live for.

Visit Barb Here: Bookbub Facebook Twitter Blog/Website

An Excuse for Murder by Vanessa Westermann

Welcome, Vanessa! Tell us about what you write.

I write crime novels that feature a strong female protagonist, witty banter, a corpse, and romance.

Tell us about An Excuse For Murder.

Gary Fenris believes it should be easy to kill. The motive is revenge – the woman he loved died on his watch. As a former bodyguard, he has all the skills and knowledge that he needs to commit the perfect crime. But Gary soon realizes that it’s a mistake to assume that vengeance can bring peace.

When bookstore owner Kate Rowan finds the body, her sleuthing takes them down a trail of blackmail, obsession and death. Despite the risk – or maybe because of it - Gary finds himself drawn to Kate. When danger strikes, he has to face the fact that he used love as an excuse for murder.

When did your writing journey begin? What drew you to writing?

I’ve always loved reading and writing, especially crime fiction. There’s something magical about escaping into another world between the pages of a book. When I was eleven, I told my mom as we were browsing a bookstore together that one day, my book would be on the shelves. Sometimes wishes do come true!

What was your inspiration for An Excuse For Murder?

I wanted to write a murder mystery that included the sort of wit and banter that I loved about classic British crime novels, such as those written by Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. I wanted to write a traditional village mystery, with its puzzles and quirky characters, but include the suspense of a thriller.  In order to accomplish this, the story is told from two points of view: from the perspective of Gary, a haunted former bodyguard who commits murder and then has to live with the crime, and from the point of view of Kate, a bookstore owner turned amateur sleuth who discovers the body.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

An Excuse For Murder is my debut novel, but the third manuscript I wrote. It took six years from the time I finished writing the last sentence to signing a publishing contract with the Wild Rose Press. Getting published took a lot of hard work, perseverance and a lot of editing.

I was eighteen when I submitted my first manuscript to agents and publishers. It would have been easy to take rejection to heart. However, there was one literary agent who took the time to write a personal email, sharing advice with me. She recommended that I read as many books in the genre as possible and to consider which plot elements are fresh, less predictable and leave the reader wanting more.

I hope she won’t mind that I’m quoting her here, but these words resonated with me: “It's rarely the first novel a writer crafts that sells. 90% of writers will never write book #2. 95% will never write a book #3. You'll get better with each book, so be the writer who keeps on writing no matter what.“

Without receiving that encouragement, I might not have continued. I can’t thank her enough for taking the time to send a personal reply to a young writer.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

I would have to share the same piece of advice I received: Be the writer who keeps writing, no matter what.

Any new projects on the horizon?

I’m currently working on a stand-alone crime novel that features another strong female protagonist as sleuth, a chocolate shop and a dark secret in the past.

But I’m also drafting some ideas for a sequel to Kate and Gary’s story, as I’m sure it won’t be long before Kate stumbles across another mystery…

Favorite Places: by the lake, London, and her desk…

Speed-dating round:

Coffee or tea or wine?

Tea - but I can never resist a good café au lait.

What does your desk look like? See Above. :-)

Ok, I have to admit that I did clean my desk up for the photograph. It’s normally a lot messier and covered in stacks of paper. As you can probably tell, I love collecting pens and pencils… I have a slightly the worse for wear Penguin Reference Pocket Thesaurus within reach. I know there’s a thesaurus on the computer too, but this little book has never failed me yet. I recently purchased a copy of Forensics For Dummies from a bargain books sale – it might come in handy when I’m plotting my next fictitious crime. I also have a hand-written letter from Carolyn Hart beside my computer, in which she congratulated me on the publication of An Excuse For Murder.

Where is your favorite place you've visited?

London, England. I love the ready access to tea, Fortnum & Mason (which also involves tea), and the Victoria & Albert museum.

Beach, lake, or mountains?

Lake. I live near a lake and love the sounds of the loons in the summer.

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

“Laser Lemon”, because yellow is my favorite color and, well, quite frankly that is a fantastic name for a crayon color.

What comes first, character or plot (or other)?

Character.

Favorite childhood book?

The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman, but I also loved I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith.

Favorite book of all time?

If I have to pick just one book, I would probably say, Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers.

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Vanessa Westermann is the author of An Excuse For Murder. Vanessa is a former Arthur Ellis Awards judge, and has given a talk on the evolution of women’s crime writing, at the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and Crime Writers of Canada. Visit Vanessa online at www.vanessa-westermann.info, and find her on Twitter: @VanessasPicks.

Find Vanessa online:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Bookbub | Amazon Author Page

How about we wrap up with an excerpt from An Excuse for Murder?

The ghost of her laughter teased across his skin, raising the hairs on his arms.

There she was, vibrant as though she was in the room with him. "Don't tell me you don't like it." She gave her new dress a twirl, barefoot and beautiful, all ready for a night out but for the heels she would wait to put on to the last. Her toe-nails were painted red. The arch of her foot flexed strong and graceful with the movement. Her blonde hair shone in the light of memory. She stopped short, the soft blue fabric swinging against her legs, and grinned at him.

It went straight through him. He raised the bottle of Scotch to his lips, holding on to the vision. It wavered beneath the intensity of his gaze.

Then there was nothing on the floor but scuff marks and the shimmer of dust. His trainers, mud-caked from that morning's eight kilometer run, took up the space where her heels should have been. He had almost forgotten the way she used to toe her shoes off, always sliding the left one off first for some inexplicable reason.

The wall was cold and hard against his back, the Scotch smooth and warm.

There was no other choice. He'd made his decision two years ago. It was time.

Tomorrow, he would commit murder.

Law & Disorder by Liv Arnold

Welcome to the Visiting Authors blog today, Liv!

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

Absolutely! Sometimes scenarios, other people’s mannerisms or certain sentences make it into my stories. It’s all part of making the characters believable.

When did your writing journey begin?

I used to write stories at school for fun, but I never thought anything would come of it. So, I did a degree that had nothing to do with writing and started a full-time job in the finance industry. My mum encouraged me to do a creative writing course at RMIT. It’s a short course that runs for 8-10 weeks for three hours a week after work. I loved every moment of the class and ended up doing three short courses. The teachers were so inspiring, and it was great to speak to like-minded people. I work-shopped my stories in class and continued with them after the course finished.

Let’s learn a bit about Law and Disorder:

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Lawyer Juliet Jackson has come head to head with Sergeant Jesse Burns on numerous occasions in court. He is provoking. Pigheaded. Punch-worthy. They don't get along. Not one little bit. The unfortunate fact he's also her next-door neighbor brings her loathing off the charts. But when Juliet's caught locked outside her home in nothing but a skimpy towel, she must swallow her pride and turn to Jesse for help. She doesn't expect the explosive chemistry between them and can't help but wonder if Jesse's as demanding in the bedroom as he is in the courtroom.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

I’m with The Wild Rose Press. They’re amazing and lovely people to work with. Diana Carlisle, who was my editor and cover artist is so talented. I love being involved on my vision for the cover and giving ideas.

Any new projects on the horizon?

I have a novel contracted with The Wild Rose Press called Etched in Stone. It’s a contemporary romance with a financial crime story-line. It should be out roughly late this year.

Here’s a little something about it:

Raw and romantic…Sensual and suspenseful.

Vanessa Lang is thrilled when she lands her dream job at investment company, Stone Corp. But when her kleptomaniac mother is on her last strike and faces a criminal record, Vanessa accepts a deal to find evidence of insider trading on her new employer.

On her first day, in walks the handsome Sebastian Stone, CEO and the man of her dreams. Determined to save her mom, however, she spies and gathers information about his business. But there's one small problem—she starts to fall in love with him.

How far would you go to protect the ones you love?

 Have any words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches?

Don’t give up and keep working on your craft. Sometimes it’s all about your manuscript landing on the right publisher’s desk at the right time. Savvy Authors does great online workshops.

Find Law and Disorder online:  Amazon US  ~  Amazon Australia  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Canada  ~  Barnes and Noble  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
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About Liv…

Oxford comma, yes or no? Yes

Ice cream (favorite flavor)? Rainbow

Coffee or tea or wine? Herbal tea

What does your desk look like? A mess

Describe a perfect writing day. When I’m not tired

What are some of your go-to methods for writing? A stopwatch

What do you like to do when not writing? Sleep

Beach, lake, or mountains? Beach

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Night owl

Favorite childhood book? Enid Blyton books

Favorite book of all time? Harry Potter

 I would love to hear from you! Contact me on:

www.livarnold.com

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Bookbub

Mike Houtz releases debut novel, Dark Spiral Down

Welcome, Mike!

Tell us about what you write.

I write full-length action and medical thrillers.

When did your writing journey begin?

I believe I was born a storyteller. The process of writing has always been a way for me to express my imagination. I’ve written with the intent to entertain as far back as junior high school. I put those thoughts aside for a career in medicine, but that desire never left me. When I decided to stay at home for my kids, I revisited my earlier life goals and writing reached out to me once again. When I see someone’s face light up after reading my work, I feel this deep satisfaction from entertaining them. I’ve had that inner feeling as far back as I can remember.

What was your inspiration for DARK SPIRAL DOWN?

I’ve been involved in children’s concerns—professionally and personally—for most of my adult life. My series shines a light on a little-known issue with the kidnapping of American children by one parent and taken to a foreign country against the will of the other parent. In 1983, a small consortium of countries adopted the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child abduction. Only about half of countries worldwide recognize the status quo child custody arrangement existing before an unlawful removal of a child from their home country. I wanted a hero that brought justice to this real-world problem. When the court system fails a child’s return, Cole delivers his brand of justice.

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

I do. I have two boys at the breech of their teenage years. I’m hoping that they see their father pursuing his passion with gusto and determination. Just like writing, I want to show them what it’s like to pursue a dream and not just tell them they should live their lives in that fashion. We adults might not think our kids are paying any attention, but I’m convinced they see it all.

Tell us about DARK SPIRAL DOWN.

Cole Haufner is a rising superstar in the professional mixed martial arts world. At the peak of his success, Cole suffers a horrible personal tragedy. His grief grows further when his brother, Butch, a Delta Force team leader, goes missing during a mission. Desperate to find Butch, Cole’s search for his brother takes him back to his childhood home in southeastern China and the Shaolin Temple where he was raised by his uncle, Master Li.

When Cole meets his brother’s Delta teammate, code name Hammer, Cole’s fame and personal agenda collide with the Delta unit’s recovery mission of a stolen twenty-year-old invention that could transform the human race; one that could also see its downfall, if the pursuing North Korean agents can find it first. Cole’s personal spiral downward approaches madness as a family secret is revealed to him, one that could force him to choose between his brother and one of the most important, and potentially deadliest, discoveries in modern human history.

PRAISE FOR DARK SPIRAL DOWN:

“If you’re in the market for a fast paced, action filled, page-turning thriller, Mike Houtz delivers a must-read novel. I highly recommend this emotional rollercoaster of a book for every die-hard thriller reader…Get it ASAP!”

 - Lima Charlie Review

Dark Spiral Down is a phenomenal debut novel by Mike Houtz! This book has everything readers of the genre love: a great plot, memorable characters, and a powerful voice. It’s a must-read!” 

  - Ammar Habib, Bestselling & Award-Winning Author, Editor-in-Chief of Thriller Magazine 

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.   

I’d just finished what was truly a rough draft of my novel when I came across a writing contest offering feedback from the judges. I needed some professional eyes looking things over, and I really wanted to know what I needed to work on both in the story as well as my own writing knowledge. I honestly forgot about my submission and months later, I received a call one evening announcing I’d won the Zebulon Award for the suspense/thriller category. I’m fairly certain my lower jaw bounced off the floor. A few months after that, I pitched my newly awarded manuscript to The Wild Rose Press, a smaller traditional publisher out of New York, at the Colorado Gold conference. After a request for a full, I was quickly put in touch with a senior editor who pushed the book through their committee at light speed. The communication along the way was outstanding, and I had that gut feeling I was in good hands. Because of how they’d treated me along the way, I had zero qualms of accepting the contract they offered. Working with my wonderful editor, Leanne Morgena, I’ve learned a ton this past year, and my writing has improved immensely. A great start to my career.

Any new projects on the horizon?

I have two in the hopper. I also just submitted a short story for an anthology set to release in 2020. Short stories are hard work! I’m working on book #2 in the Cole Haufner series. I’m also back at my original WIP, a medical thriller. When Tess Gerritsen says she can’t wait to see it, you better believe I’m going to finish that ASAP.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

It’s a marathon. The winners are those that stay the course and don’t let outside influences drive their own narrative. Write your own ending.

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

The most difficult part was the North Korean characters. As you can imagine, there’s not a lot of available research because of their closed society. It was also fascinating to imagine their mindsets and motivations. Their way of thinking is so different than our own, and I had some mental fun crawling into their heads.

Find Mike:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Bookbub

Now for an excerpt…

Anger born of helplessness rose in his chest. In contrast to Master Li's placating tone, Cole straightened to his full height and stared into the man's face. "Let me guess, more 14K cowards?"
Another man stepped forward and cocked his pistol's hammer. "I show you coward." 
As at the Crowne Plaza earlier, Cole refused to back off, even in the face of impending conflict. "The coward is the man who needs a gun." 
The other with the shotgun pointing at Cole's chest stood only some seven or eight feet away. "You will come with us now!"
"Please. Violence is forbidden here," Master Li spoke again. "The Temple is sacred. We cannot have this type of behavior."
"Maybe you don't hear so good," the leader sneered. "He comes with us whether you approve or not."
"He is a famous American! If you take him, the government will arrest anyone involved. They will have no choice but hold immediate trials and executions." Master Li cupped his hands together and held them against his chest.
"Famous American," the man chuckled. "If you are so famous, what are you doing here then, huh?"
Cole stared straight into the man's eyes. He took several steps toward the shotgun-wielding thug. "How about I show you?" 

Speed-dating round:

What does your desk look like? Ten squirrels fighting over one nut

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? Lead singer for KISS

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? So far, London. So far…

You have a time travel machine: past or future? Where/when? 2 weeks into the future and grab the Lotto numbers.

Above, Mike atop Mount Gray, a 14+er in Colorado, and his dog, Saber.

If you could meet one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? DaVinci

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? Milky brown color called Backstory Barf. No one wants to see that.

What are you known for? Original member of Zydeco band Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Night owl

Favorite book of all time? Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising

Where can you find Mike?   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Goodreads  ~  Bookbub

Where can you find Mike?

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Bookbub

 

 

Mystic Maples by Tena Stetler makes its Deerbourne Inn series premiere!

Welcome, Tena!

From Tena: “Mystic Maples is my contribution to the multi-author series The Deerbourne Inn. If you haven’t read any of the series, I highly recommend them. Each story is written by a different author and share scenes within Willow Springs, Vermont centering on The Deerbourne Inn and its cast of quirky characters.”

(Jean here…I second the above! What a great series so far!)

What inspired this (specific) story? 

After reading all the original information set out for the multi-author series The Deerbourne Inn, Mercy and Sil began chattering in my mind. They claimed the setting was perfect for their story. Once I did the character worksheets I always do before starting a story, I discovered they were right.   I love writing small town stories and putting a paranormal twist on them.  

Any interesting discovery or tidbit of info while researching/writing this book?

I had to research the process of making Sugar Maple sap into Maple syrup, so I would know the equipment used, the buildings used and the time of year. My hero took over Mystic Maples the family maple business in Willow Springs, Vermont. Did you know sugaring season for maple syrup is from early February through late March?

Fun Facts:

  • It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup.

  • Pure maple syrup contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids – making it good for your health and a great alternative to refined sugar (in moderation of course). 

  • REAL maple syrup is 100% fat free and contains no preservatives.

  • Buy extra! You can keep maple syrup in the freezer for a very very long time (like forever)! It will never freeze solid. Always keep your open bottle of syrup in the refrigerator. 

  • There is actually a law in Vermont making it illegal to label a product on a restaurant menu or food package as “maple” if it is not pure maple syrup. Vermonters take this stuff seriously!

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

I was a radio DJ for two years on a Classic Rock Station KKFM. It was a fun job, the perks of attending the rock concerts and meeting the bands rocked, but the pay sucked! It was an experience I enjoyed.

Mystic Maples…  Earth/Fire witch Mercy Rose's insatiable curiosity always gets her in trouble. After a break-in at her Colorado flower shop, and a court battle that comes to a screeching halt in her favor, she arrives at Deerbourne Inn for a much-needed getaway. Looking for peace and quiet, she finds just the opposite in a startling handsome but mysterious man and his dog.  Silvanus Forrest's gypsy/fae heritage is a double-edged sword. The land he inherited from his parents is rumored to be enchanted. But when Mercy discovers the truth, his well-ordered life unravels, and they're catapulted into the past to right a wrong. Along the way their lives intertwine, and they discover the true meaning of family and love. Will they change the past in time to save their future?

Mystic Maples…

Earth/Fire witch Mercy Rose's insatiable curiosity always gets her in trouble. After a break-in at her Colorado flower shop, and a court battle that comes to a screeching halt in her favor, she arrives at Deerbourne Inn for a much-needed getaway. Looking for peace and quiet, she finds just the opposite in a startling handsome but mysterious man and his dog.

Silvanus Forrest's gypsy/fae heritage is a double-edged sword. The land he inherited from his parents is rumored to be enchanted. But when Mercy discovers the truth, his well-ordered life unravels, and they're catapulted into the past to right a wrong. Along the way their lives intertwine, and they discover the true meaning of family and love. Will they change the past in time to save their future?

Find Mystic Maples: Amazon, AmazonUK, AmazonAU, AmazonCA Barnes&Noble and itunes

Speed-dating round:

Oxford comma, yes or no?  Yes, but not willingly.

Ice cream (favorite flavor)? Chocolate

Tena’s work cave

Tena’s work cave

Coffee or tea or wine? French Vanilla Tea

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? Well paid DJ.

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? I’d love to visit Scotland and Ireland.But  I love Monterey Bay, California.

Beach, lake, or mountains? Mountains

If you could meet one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? Steve Jobs

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Night Owl

What comes first, character or plot (or other)? Character

Now for an excerpt…

Once again her insatiable curiosity overwhelmed her good sense.

He reached out. It all happened like slow motion, he grabbed her arm pulling her out of her thoughts. Reflex action on her part caused a jolt of magic spark to snap from her palm. A direct hit to his solar plexus. Uh-oh—there goes the offer of his cottage. “I’m so sorry,” she blurted.

Doubling over, he gasped for air. She had to admire him. He stayed on his feet.

Adrenalin surged through her veins, the fight or flight response alive and well. A final glance at him to make sure he was recovering, then she snapped her fingers and disappeared.

Back in her room at Deerbourne Inn, she paced around, stopped and stomped her foot. “Damn it!” Then she returned to pacing. Grabbing her phone, she scrolled to her sister’s number, turned it off silent, then froze. Her sense of self-preservation and good sense kicked in.

She could just see her sister, arms crossed over her chest, lips pursed, and shaking her head. Then in that condescending tone Hope would say, “Again.” She tossed the phone on the bed. Fell backward onto the handmade quilt and stared at the ceiling.

A whoosh of cool air washed over her. She shifted her gaze toward the window. It was closed. A woman’s filmy outline floated across the floor, taking a familiar shape. As the apparition settled onto the bed a slight indentation on the covers appeared. She sat up.

The ghost touched her hand. “My, my, what has you so upset?”

The specter’s touch was cool, sending shivers down her spine. She opened her mouth, but no sound came out. At her second attempt to speak only a squeak was audible.

“Come, come now, girl, spit it out.” The ghost’s smile was reassuring.

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About Tena…

Tena Stetler is a best-selling author of award winning paranormal romance novels. She has an over-active imagination, which led to writing her first vampire romance as a tween to the chagrin of her mother and delight of her friends.

With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, she sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures, with a Navy SEAL or two mixed in telling their tales. Her books tell stories of magical kick-ass women and strong mystical males that dare to love them. Travel, adventure and a bit of mystery flourish in her books along with a few companion animals to round out the tales.

The wait is over! L. Ryan Storms's new release!

A Thousand Years to Wait …  Prophecies are meant to unfold on their own—they can’t be forced into fruition. Or can they? When a war-torn kingdom is on the cusp of falling to a usurping general, a young healer who doesn't believe in magic is called upon to help a prophecy transpire. She must embrace the magic...or lose everything.

A Thousand Years to Wait

Prophecies are meant to unfold on their own—they can’t be forced into fruition. Or can they? When a war-torn kingdom is on the cusp of falling to a usurping general, a young healer who doesn't believe in magic is called upon to help a prophecy transpire. She must embrace the magic...or lose everything.

 Welcome, L. Ryan Storms! Your bio is pretty diverse. How did you end up writing?

I guess it took me longer than most to realize storytelling was my true calling. While I’ve always loved it, it never seemed like a viable path for me. As someone who has so many interests, it always made sense to follow a more “solid” career path, like science. As a result, I worked in pharmaceutical microbiology for years. I loved it! (I am a huge science nerd.) But I found I still needed to fill that creative void and writing was the perfect outlet.

In fact, I have to give some credit to the pharmaceutical industry for steering me towards writing. At one point, I left the laboratory and started as a technical writer in the R&D department. It was the first time I really learned how to piece together large documents on a regular basis and realize that I could jump around to fill in pieces as I gathered them. It didn’t quite feed the creative in me (Boy, is technical writing dry!), but it gave me a basic understanding of how I could delve into my own writing and not just start, but also finish novels. (Which is kind of important if you’re going to be an author.) As the years went on, I started to feel more at home with my writing and finally decided to take the plunge into indie-authorhood this year.

What’s your favorite kind of character to write?

That’s a tough one. One of the best parts about being an author is bringing to life so many different kinds of characters. I love the diversity of it. All in all, I’d have to say intelligent characters with just a little bit of attitude rank high on my list. I really enjoy the challenge of writing a character who has the brains to figure out how to take on the problems around them. That said, one of the most difficult things to write is a character who is a whole lot smarter than you are. I wrote a story about a time-traveling prodigy once and I had the most difficult time writing it because I just couldn’t process how someone that smart would think.

Quinn was probably one of my favorite characters in A Thousand Years to Wait because of the way his mind works. Because the story is told from Reina’s point-of-view, we don’t really get to see how Quinn thinks up front, which makes for a lot of speculation. It was lots of fun. If things go right, you might see more of Quinn’s thoughts in the future.

A Thousand Years to Wait is labeled as being Book 1 of The Tarrowburn Prophecies. Does this mean there’s more to come?

Maaaaaaybe. It was always my intention to make A Thousand Years to Wait the first of a trilogy. In fact, early versions of the book alluded to more prophecies and additional troubles. I am a huge fan of trilogies, but I love a first book that can stand alone. That’s what I aimed for with A Thousand Years to Wait.

I hope to write the second book this year. I’m in the middle of another project, though, and need to wrap that one up first. I’m not the kind of writer who can work on multiple books at once. I get too muddled and lose my way. Authors who can hop back and forth between projects with no problem are my heroes.

Speaking of A Thousand Years to Wait…let’s learn a bit more about it:

At eighteen, Moreina di Bianco is a young healer who believes in medicine, not magic, even while possessing a second sight she can’t fully explain. So when the Faranzine Talisman chooses Reina to reawaken an ancient magic and end a war, she must reconcile her beliefs, unlock the talisman’s secrets, and harness the magic within.

Reluctant to accept help, Reina agrees to allow two determined escorts to accompany her on her journey for truth, but each comes with a mysterious past of his own. Her estranged childhood friend, Quinn D’Arturio, left their village years ago and only recently returned, harboring dark secrets behind a solemn exterior. And despite his status as a perfect stranger, a dashing captain by the name of Niles Ingram is quick to fight by Reina’s side at whatever the cost. That someone she’s only just met would give his life for hers is a sobering realization of the ever-present danger Reina has jumped into.

There’s just one problem with Reina’s two companions. They, too, are featured in the talisman’s prophecy—as potential suitors. But what woman wants a suitor, let alone two, when she’s tasked with defeating a usurping general, ending a war, finding the true king, and rightfully seating him on the throne?

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Where can we get our hands on A Thousand Years to Wait?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Book Depository

My goal is to have the second book of The Tarrowburn Prophecies released sometime in late 2020.

Why did you go the self-published route?

I think there comes a point in your life where you have to be comfortable in your own skin and with your own skills. Publishing is extremely competitive and a lot of writers call it quits long before getting to publication. After all, it’s really difficult to keep going when you’re faced with 90% or higher rate of rejection. (Seriously, 90% is being generous.) You can’t rely on others to reassure you of the worth of your work. You have to know, deep down, that what you’re writing is worth putting out there.

That said, beta-readers and critique partners are gold, and I would never, ever, ever publish without having multiple eyes and edits on my work. Self-publishing has a bad reputation because “anyone can do it.” This is true. It’s also why there’s a lot of sub-par writing when it comes to self-publishing.

On the flip side, there are a ton of self-published authors whose work is better than many traditionally published authors. I read Andy Weir’s The Martian not too long ago and it had me laughing out loud so often that my husband actually began to side-eye me from across the room. The Martian was self-published. Still Alice by Lisa Genova is another self-published success story that made it not only onto the NYT bestseller list, but also onto the big screen. There’s a lot to be said for self-publishing and it’s as legitimate a publishing path as any other.

There was a time when I pursued traditional publishing methods and queried a whole lot of agents. (I’ll leave the number to your imagination.) It was actually the responses of several agents that ultimately made me comfortable with the prospect of self-publishing. When agents compliment your world-building, your writing, and the story, and tell you to touch base with them for future projects? It’s eye-opening in a way that a friend’s “This is great!” isn’t. (Not that my friends aren’t positively amazing and cherished for their encouragement. They are. But when an agent compliments your writing? It’s a. Big. Deal.) That encouragement gave me the courage to take the leap.

How did you get into writing Young Adult Fantasy? And why Young Adult over Adult?

I love the young adult age category. I have always loved it. I wish it had existed when I was in middle school and high school, but back then there was a giant void between middle grade and adult fiction. I’ve really enjoyed seeing book stores labeling entire shelves as young adult over the last few years because, whether it’s contemporary young adult or young adult fantasy, it’s really important for teenagers to see themselves represented in stories as more than just a sullen side character with raging hormones.

Teens face a lot of unique problems that really only happen at that time in our lives. The “newness” of adulthood, the first love that you go through in your teen years, and the learning how to interact with others on a deeper, more personal level than “What’s your favorite food?” or “What’s your favorite animal?” is what makes writing young adult really interesting for me. (Don’t get me wrong. It’s still important that you know I love pizza, chocolate, and horses but who doesn’t?) Teens are in a really unique place in life where they can act like kids or act like adults, where they can process information in a way adults might not, see solutions adults might miss, and embrace change in a way adults might vehemently refuse to do.

Young adults deserve to see themselves as heroes, as strong characters who are capable of changing the world because that’s just who they are. The sooner they learn and accept that, the sooner they can get on with being amazing individuals and making an impact in the world.

Where can we get our hands on A Thousand Years to Wait?

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ Book Depository


SPEED ROUND TIME!

Oxford comma, yes or no?  Always (Seriously, say it in a Snape voice. *Always.*)

Coffee or tea or wine? Peach tea. Or water. Lots and lots of water.

What does your desk look like? What desk? My lap is my desk. Sometimes the dining room table if I’m feeling fancy.

What is your writing vice or must-haves? My laptop. Sounds silly, but I can’t write by hand. My handwriting is atrocious and my brain works far faster than my hands can keep up. Typing is the only way I can write.

Describe a perfect writing day. Wait. There’s a perfect writing day?

What are some of your go-to methods for writing? It’s like Nike always said. Just do it. I like to outline, but I don’t always *follow* the outline. One way or another, I sit my butt in the chair and write the words.

In an alternate reality, what would be your dream job (besides author)? Outdoor photographer

PSSST! She is an amazing photographer!! Check out some of her work here: http://www.thisartisticearth.com/ or here: https://www.facebook.com/artisticearthphotography/ and a few below:

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? Bryce Canyon is high on my list. It’s magical in a way I can’t even begin to explain.

Beach, lake, or mountains? This is tough. Mountains and lakes are synonymous for me and they’re relaxing in a cozy, wear-your-sweater-and-drink-hot-tea kind of way. Beaches are relaxing in a let-your-muscles-unclench-and-sip-a-tropical-drink kind of way. So…both? All?

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Night owl, possibly midday lark at times. Definitely, definitely not a morning rooster.

What comes first, character or plot (or other)? Character and setting.

L. Ryan Storms is a writer, photographer, traveler, and dreamer. She's a member of the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of SCBWI who enjoys working PR & Marketing for her local library. She has written articles featured on the front page of local newspapers, but mostly she writes novels near and dear to her heart. She holds a B.S. in Marine Science from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and a Master's in Business Administration from Marist College, but writing young adult fantasy has always been her true passion.

Storms lives in Pennsylvania with her cancer-survivor husband, two children, and a "rescue zoo" featuring two dogs, two cats, and an ex-racehorse. When she's not writing, reading, or keeping her kids in line, she enjoys hiking, photography, and planning the next big adventure.

Find out what L. Ryan Storms is working on & visit her blog at www.lryanstorms.com. You can also find her frequently tweeting about writing (and parenting) on Twitter (@LRyan_Storms).

Witches' Cliff (Deerbourne Inn) by Peggy Chambers

Peggy Chambers is visiting today to share about her latest release, Witches’ Cliff, the next book in the Deerbourne Inn series by The Wild Rose Press.

Welcome, Peggy!

What do you write?

I write adult suspense novels, YA fantasy and Pulp Fiction.  Someday I’ll decide what my genre is, but for now, I love to write different things.

What drew you to writing?

Like most writers, I’ve loved literature my whole life.  When I was getting to the end of my career, I wondered what I would like to do with my spare time when I retired.  I tried photography but it was not my calling.  I started writing and joined a local writing club and then a state-wide club.  After that I never looked back.  I love to make up stories.

 What was your inspiration for Witches’ Cliff?

When The Wild Rose Press came up with the Deerbourne Inn series we were to write our stories around a holiday.  I chose Halloween because I thought most writers would choose Christmas.  With Halloween, I could add a little fantasy to my writing.  I found Halloween mixed well with the setting.

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

I love to travel, and I want to write about the places I visit.  I love the water and it normally shows up in my manuscripts.

 

Tell us about Witches’ Cliff:

Find  Witches’ Cliff now on Amazon  and with other online retailers.

Find Witches’ Cliff now on Amazon and with other online retailers.

Penny Winters flees to her birthplace in Vermont to consider the marriage proposal she left behind in Salem. Complicating her already difficult decision, she is smitten when she encounters handyman Liam on the porch of the quaint Deerbourne Inn. A modern-day wiccan, Penny intends to contact her distant great-grandmother, who died on the cliffs when Willow Springs held witch trials. Penny needs advice, and the best time to connect to her ancestors is on Halloween. But she is not the only witch in Willow Springs, and they both have their eye on the same man. And who is the old woman who keeps appearing, telling her to go home? Penny comes to the cliff to seek Grandma's advice. But Halloween is an important holiday for a witch, and she is not alone on the cliffs that night. Penny will have to battle not only for Liam's attention, but for her life.

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 Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

I’ve tried the traditional route of agent/publisher but failed.  I am a hybrid author with two self-published YA titles and three adult suspense novels published by The Wild Rose Press plus the one novella, Witches’ Cliff.  I am published by one independent press, Airship 27, who publishes my pulp fiction.  I currently have one novel with them and another on their desk awaiting publication.

 Any new projects on the horizon?

I have written two Sandhill Island novels for The Wild Rose Press and there is another on the way.  I also wrote my first Keystone Lake novel published by The Wild Rose Press and I am currently working on the second.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

Don’t quit (everyone says that) and give yourself plenty of me-time to write.  The world tells you what to do all the time.  Don’t let it tell you not to write.  It opens up the soul.

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

I looked up the Salem Witch Trials and it was frightening just how far people will go because of fear. 


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Peggy Chambers calls Enid, Oklahoma home.  She has been writing for several years and is an award winning, published author, always working on another.  There aren’t enough hours in the day. Blooming Justice is her sixth book. She has two children, five grandchildren and lives with her husband and dog.  She adores travel and the great outdoors, even if it is just taking the dog for a walk and once ate wart hog pizza for lunch when she followed her husband across deepest, darkest Africa. She even climbed the pyramids at Chichen Itza.

She attended Phillips University, the University of Central Oklahoma and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.   She is a member of the Enid Writers’ Club and Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc.  There is always another story weaving itself around in her brain trying to come out.

You can find her on her website  where she writes a weekly blog, like her on Facebook, connect with her on Twitter, or on Instagram at champeggy.

 SPEED ROUND:

Oxford comma, yes or no? yes

Ice cream (favorite flavor)? chocolate

Coffee or tea or wine? All of them

What does your desk look like? A mess

What is your writing vice or must-haves (e.g. for me it's post-its, red pen, and coffee)? A few hours of quiet, I write directly into the laptop and seldom print out my work.

What are some of your go-to methods for writing? Getting involved with a critique group is a must.

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? I love the ocean

What do you like to do when not writing? Garden and travel

Beach, lake, or mountains? beach

If you could meet one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? Stephen King

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? Caribbean Blue – I love the water

What comes first, character or plot (or other)? Character

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

Favorite childhood book? Nancy Drew mysteries

Favorite book of all time? To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee or Islands in the Stream, Ernest Hemmingway

You’re on a desert island, besides essentials, what do you bring? Classic novels

Not for Me by Kat de Falla, her latest Chick Lit

Kat de Falla is with me today talking about her latest Chick Lit book, Not for Me.

Available:  Amazon  ~  Barnes and Noble  Also Available on Audible in the Romance Package on  Audible   Manda Wolfgram is a struggling literary agent who is looking for the perfect manuscript to land in her lap and the perfect man to land in her bed. When the sixth-floor hottie finally asks her out, she gets more than she bargained for. How can a girl wrap her brain around a Shakespearean actor who writes erotica?   Harry Sackes leads a double life: making a career as an author by day and dipping into the dark underworld of criminals at night. The moment he sees Manda in his twin brother's arms, his whole life becomes his personal Shakespearean trag-comedy of mistaken identity and unrequited love in this fast-paced chick lit romance.

Available: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble Also Available on Audible in the Romance Package on Audible

Manda Wolfgram is a struggling literary agent who is looking for the perfect manuscript to land in her lap and the perfect man to land in her bed. When the sixth-floor hottie finally asks her out, she gets more than she bargained for. How can a girl wrap her brain around a Shakespearean actor who writes erotica?

Harry Sackes leads a double life: making a career as an author by day and dipping into the dark underworld of criminals at night. The moment he sees Manda in his twin brother's arms, his whole life becomes his personal Shakespearean trag-comedy of mistaken identity and unrequited love in this fast-paced chick lit romance.

How we crazy authors interject our real life in our books.

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We all do it. Don’t let us lie to you. Authors insert our own lives into our books. From little conversations we had that day that slip into that night’s chapters, to a person we meet on the street who has a name that fits with a character we’re working on. Things we love. Food we hate. Life experiences. People who irritate us. Trips we’ve savored. It works its way through words into our novels. And for me…it’s my dog. I’ve had one of my animals in all my books. My RIP dog Stogey made an appearance in The Seer’s Lover as a wild dog of Costa Rica. My cat, Max is the star of my middle grade book, Flying Mutant Zombie Rats. (And he even talks!) And in Not for Me, my cute-as-anything Bullador, or as we affectionately refer to him, Da Beef makes an appearance. Here’s a picture of the big lug and next, read an excerpt (down below) with my lovable goofball written into the story…enjoy!

She fell for the 6th floor hottie, but he’s a hot mess!

A bit about Manda…

And now for a teaser with Harry:

Excerpt:

Women should meet men at balls, not bars.

The doors opened, jolting me from my British Renaissance daydream enough to step inside the claustrophobia-inducing metal box. The doors started to close when a series of rapid clicks and heavy footsteps pounded toward the elevator. A deep voice yelled, “Hi ya, George! Hey, can you hold the elevator?”

I knew that voice. Oh no!

With a jerk forward, I managed to hit the little button with two outward pointing arrows. A hand appeared in between the doors to stop them from shutting. The doors reopened. My throat seized shut, and time froze.

The sixth-floor hottie!

Every time we passed, I couldn’t form a coherent sentence. My brain cells deserted me when his male perfection entered my personal space. The last time we passed in the lobby, it was summer and Beefer sniffed his golden’s butt to my utter mortification. I think I mumbled “I’m sorry” and fled in horror.

Today I will form words!

Emboldened, I stood taller and began to formulate a witty question. My cheeks burned while I resisted the urge to gawk. He was bundled up in a winter coat and heavy boots, holding a bag of groceries and wearing an ushanka winter hat that covered most of his face. But it was him. I knew for sure because of the dog.

Instructing myself to take deep breaths, I vowed I’d say something funny and interesting. I was a literary agent for crying out loud! I lived in a world of words. But then I caught a whiff of him: masculine and heavy, like black pepper and tangerines with a splash of the fresh cool, Lake Michigan wind. After that, all words eluded me. Blank. I had nothing.

“Thanks for holding the door.” He spoke. To me. And in the most polite manner, his hint of a smile melting my insides like hot chocolate after a winter snowball fight.

The elevator slid shut. I stole a sideways glance, and his gray-green eyes locked on mine for a fraction of a second too long.

I jerked my head toward the front of the elevator again, swallowing copious amounts of saliva. Great, I’m about to drool over this guy for real!

He reached across and hit the buttons for the sixth and eighth floors. He raised one eyebrow. “Eight, right?”

I nodded like an idiot from my stupor, wishing I could channel chameleon superpowers and melt into the wall.

Hold up! He knows what floor I live on?

Trying to focus on something else, I watched his waggy-tailed golden retriever, who had pranced into the confined space and planted its furry backside right next to its owner.

He pulled a flask from his jacket and unscrewed the cap. After taking a swig, he held the bottle out to me.

I couldn’t do anything but give him a confused expression. The elevator stopped at four, but the hall was empty. I risked a look inside his paper bag. A stalk of celery was sticking out next to a nudie magazine. My precious sixth-floor hottie was hot all right…a hot mess.

“So no?” He calmly covered his flask and put it away. “Oh, Desdemona, if only she knew ‘I have very poor and unhappy brains for drinking.’” He mumbled the whole thing while patting his dog on the head.

Who the heck was this guy? Quietly quoting Shakespeare but drinking from a flask in an elevator with a girlie magazine in his grocery bag? I mean, where was the guy I saw this summer out for a run? The guy whose T-shirt was sticking to him in all the right places? The guy with the defined shoulders and rippled abs that made me want to ski up and down their slopes?

“What’s your name, big guy?”

Beefer puffed out his chest to be macho and sat up nice and tall while the sixth-floor hottie scratched his chin.

“His name is Beefer,” I answered, realizing how uncool his name was compared to Othello’s Venetian debutante. “Desdemona?” I said it out loud because I still couldn’t believe it.

“Nobody gets the reference. No worries.”

The elevator opened on the sixth floor, and he stepped out.

“Shakespeare’s Othello,” I said without a moment’s hesitation. “I’m…I’m a literary agent.”

He turned quickly and stuck his hand in the other pocket of his coat. His eyes brightened, and one corner of his mouth lifted in a half smile as the door began to close. He stuck his arm inside, risking bodily injury, and the door shut on his outstretched hand.

He dropped something.

The door opened all the way back up as a safety precaution, and I bent down to pick up the piece of paper. Now it was my turn to force the elevator into an indecisive pattern. I stuck my head out into the hallway and followed the direction of Desdemona’s wagging tail. “Hey, you dropped this.”

“It’s for you. If you really like Shakespeare, come see me,” he stopped walking and looked over his shoulder.

I looked down to find a ticket for Romeo and Juliet at Navy Pier for today!

 

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Also by Kat de Falla:

Dark Fantasy: THE 7 ARCHANGELS SERIES The Seer's Lover Darkwalker

Middle Grade: MOTO MADDIE BMX PORTAL SERIES Flying Mutant Zombie Rats, Slime Spewing Vampire Velociraptors

Paranormal Suspense: HAUNTS FOR SALE SERIES writing as Kat Green, First Contact, Second Sight

Forever in a Moment, the latest Deerbourne Inn book, by Charlotte O'Shay

Thanks for the invitation to appear on your gorgeous blog to talk about my new release Forever in a Moment, my addition to the Wild Rose Press Deerbourne Inn series.

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A Stormy Encounter…

Samantha DeMartino’s Christmas wedding is two weeks away when her fiancé calls the whole thing off. Word on the street: his cold feet are being warmed by an old flame.

With her well-ordered world in complete disarray, Sam’s friends convince her to go on her honeymoon—alone. A week away from the city and her demanding corporate career at a charming Vermont inn, could be just what she needs to figure out next steps.

Between his twenty-four seven work schedule on his family’s farm and teaching tourists to ski, Jed Armstrong’s too busy to think about how lonely he is...until Sam sings her way into his life during a Christmas blizzard. Now he has to figure out a way to convince her to stay.

Can a vivacious city girl find forever with a reclusive farmer?

Will her secret keep her from trying?

Why did you write this particular book?

Some ideas cook up fast and some simmer in the back of one’s mind till the time is right.

Forever in a Moment was born with no epidural, I barely made it to the hospital in time! As soon as the publisher’s call went out for submissions, I pictured my heroine, Samantha and since I love to put my characters in a crisis at a pivot point in their lives, it was vital I send this urban professional used to being so focused and driven up to rural Vermont to a strange place with people she didn’t know. Sam is forced out of her comfort zone.

[I love this comparison to pregnancy and birth…I use the same analogy with book writing and publication! And once that baby’s in the world we still don’t know how everything will turn out!]

One of the first things Sam discovers is though she was left practically at the altar, she isn’t heartbroken. She’s embarrassed to know she put her emotional life on auto-pilot and she resolves to change. She’s an energetic, driven woman so even though the stuffing’s been knocked out of her, she’s determined to recover her buoyant spirit.

In Willow Springs she slows down, regroups and gives herself a chance to think about the direction of her life. How rare is it after college that we get that time to reflect? Most of us, like Sam, have to have introspection forced upon us.

I loved watching Sam meet Jed, a soft-spoken farmer who is all wrong for her but yeah you guessed it, oh so right. There are some rom-com moments and some angsty emotional ones too. Sam is reminded people are the same everywhere. We’re all human, fallible beings. And life is short.

Do you ever put any part of yourself in your characters?

There’s a tiny bit of me in all my characters and a little more of me in Sam— at least the bare outlines. Urban woman, lawyer (former). I made her braver than me though and she’s seldom at a loss for words. I’ve been to Vermont a bunch of times to ski and I will never forget my first time seeing all the snow and trees and just quiet as far as my eye could see. Quite a memorable experience for a city kid.

Find Forever in a Moment: Amazon, Kobo, Google Play

Let’s get to know Charlotte more! Speed Round!

Coffee or Tea or Wine:

Coffee! I can get up as early as the next person but I need lots of coffee if I have any hope of forming a sentence. Tea only when sick with honey, turmeric, ginger, cayenne & lemon.

And yes wine. Always.

Manuscript Playlist?

In addition to the karaoke Glory Days by Springsteen and Carole King’s You make me Feel like a Natural Woman in this story one song that I couldn’t get out of my head was Home by Phillip Phillips https://youtu.be/97yHtjVyzi4

Beach, Lake, or Mountains?

 Beach, beach, beach any time of year.

What are you known for?

What an interesting question. I would say that I am known for my roasted chicken, my green salad, my icebox cake and for giving great hugs



            Thanks again for the opportunity to appear on you blog, Jean.

- Charlotte

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Bookbub ~ Website ~ Pinterest ~ Facebook

Time for an excerpt!

“Samantha.”

If his voice were angry or commanding I’d have kept going. But his voice is low and there’s an anguished, guttural quality to the way he says my name. And I won’t have it. I can’t have him thinking anything negative about me after I go.

When I turn, he takes a step toward me and I raise a hand. “Stop…I can’t think when you get too close.” My face heats as those damning words spill out and he chuckles, a genuine laugh and it’s the only one between us today.

“Glad I still amuse you.” I fold my arms across my chest.

“I feel the same way, Sam.”

“Jed, don’t make this tougher,” I say but he keeps speaking in that same harsh voice.

“When I’m near you everything fades away except the need to be closer. Close enough to watch your eyes cloud up when I’m about to kiss you, close enough to hear your breathing get ragged when my hands are on you.”

“Jed, we agreed…”

He shakes his head. “No, I gave in. Because you asked me to. If I had my way, I’d see you all day, every day and… sleep with you every night. I…”

“Stop,” I say. “This, us, whatever this is—can’t happen. I go back to New York in a couple of days.” “Sam, I…”

“No.” I slash my hand through the air. “I don’t know what’s happening to me.” I’m on edge, close to tears at the way I can’t control my response to him. And all my precious logic is eluding me.

He plows a hand through his hair then captures my gaze with his and I can’t look away.

“What’s happening is us. We’re happening. This is our beginning. You and me together. I’d started to think it would never happen. But it did. When I saw you that first night…I knew. And you did too.”

“No.” My denial is swift. “No. I didn’t. It’s not that simple. We hardly know each other…” I lift my chin in spite of the flush I know covers my cheeks. But it’s true, isn’t it? We don’t know each other. I surprise myself when a tear trickles down my cheek and I swipe it fast.

For the Love of Hawthorne by Diana Rubino

About FOR THE LOVE OF HAWTHORNE

In 19th century Salem, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s clairvoyant bride rescued her beloved husband from a perceived curse that spanned generations.

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's courtship of Sophia Peabody lasted over three years because he insisted on keeping it secret. He had his reasons, none of which Sophia agreed with. But she knew they were destined for each other and he was worth the wait. When they married in 1842 "we became Adam and Eve alone in our Garden of Even" she wrote in her journal. But not all was paradise in their Eden--Nathaniel bore a burden that plagued his family since 1692. His ancestor Judge Hathorne condemned nineteen innocent victims to death during the Salem witch trials. His heinous deeds brought shame and guilt upon the family through the centuries. In her last moments on earth, Sarah Good cursed the judge and his descendants from the hanging tree. Nathaniel's belief in this curse haunted and tormented him until Sophia made it her quest to save him. A story of love, compassion, and forgiveness, For the Love of Hawthorne portrays the lives of two kindred souls whose legacy endures through the ages.

Salem, Massachusetts witnessed horrific and shameful events in 1692 that haunted the town for three centuries. Accused as witches, nineteen innocent people were hanged and one was pressed to death. Judge John Hathorne and Reverend Nicholas Noyes handed down the sentences. One victim, Sarah Good, cursed Noyes from the hanging tree: “If you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink!” She then set her eyes on Judge Hathorne. “I curse you and your acknowledged heirs for all time on this wicked earth!” Hathorne was not only Sarah Good’s merciless judge; he also fathered her son Peter and refused to acknowledge him.

In 1717, Nicholas Noyes choked on his own blood and died. Every generation after the judge continued to lose Hathorne land and money, prompting the rumor of a family curse. By the time his great great grandson Nathaniel was born, they faced poverty.

Ashamed of his ancestor, Nathaniel added the ‘w’ to his last name. His novels and stories explore his beliefs and fears of sin and evil, and he based many of his characters on overbearing Puritan rulers such as Judge Hathorne.

Sophia Peabody’s home next to Charter Street Burying Ground, resting place of Judge Hathorne, Salem, MA

Sophia Peabody’s home next to Charter Street Burying Ground, resting place of Judge Hathorne, Salem, MA

When Nathaniel first met Sophia Peabody, they experienced instantaneous mutual attraction. Sparks flew. He rose upon my eyes and soul a king among men by divine right, she wrote in her journal.

But to Sophia’s frustration, Nathaniel insisted they keep their romance secret for three years. He had his reasons, none of which made sense to Sophia. But knowing that he believed Sarah Good’s curse inflicted so much tragedy on his family over the centuries, she made it her mission to save him. Sarah was an ancestor of Sophia’s, making her and Nathaniel distant cousins—but she kept that to herself for the time being.

Sophia suffered severe headaches as a result of childhood mercury treatments. She underwent routine mesmerizing sessions, a popular cure for many ailments. Spirits sometimes came to her when mesmerized, and as a spiritualist and medium, she was able to contact and communicate with spirits. She knew if she could reach Sarah and persuade her to forgive Judge Hathorne, Nathaniel would be free of his lifelong burden.

The Old Manse, the Hawthornes' first home as newlyweds.

The Old Manse, the Hawthornes' first home as newlyweds.

Sarah Good’s son Peter had kept a journal the family passed down to the Peabodys. Sophia sensed his presence every time she turned the brittle pages and read his words. John Hathorne’s legitimate son John also kept a journal, now in the Hawthorne family’s possession. Living on opposite sides of Salem in 1692, Peter and John wrote in vivid detail about how the Salem trials tormented them throughout their lives.

Nathaniel finally agreed to announce their engagement, and married Sophia on July 9, 1842. They moved into their first home, The Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts. Wanting nothing else but to spend the summer enjoying each other, we became Adam and Eve, alone in our Garden of Eden, Sophia wrote in her journal.

The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MA, built in 1668.

The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, MA, built in 1668.

As success eluded Nathaniel, they lived on the verge of poverty. After being dismissed from his day job at the Salem Custom House, he wrote The Scarlet Letter, which finally gained him the recognition he deserved. But the curse he believed Sarah cast on his family still haunted him. In the book he asks for the curse to be lifted.

Sophia urged Nathaniel to write a novel about the house, knowing it would be cathartic for him. While they lived in Lenox, Nathaniel finished writing The House of the Seven Gables. The Gothic novel explored all his fears and trepidations about the curse. He told Sophia, “Writing it, and especially reading it aloud to you lifted a tremendous burden off my shoulders. I felt it physically leave me. I carried this inside me since my youth and couldn’t bring it out to face it. And I have you, and only you, to thank.”

But he did not believe the curse could be lifted.

Sophia invited renowned spiritualist John Spear to The Gables. She explained that she needed to complete one final step to convince Nathaniel the curse was lifted.

 

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Why I wrote

For the Love of Hawthorne:

I live near Salem and have been to all the Hawthorne landmarks there, and in Concord. The House of the Seven Gables has been my favorite house in the world since I'm a kid. I've always felt a strong spiritual connection to Salem, and always wanted to write one of my books set there, including the witch trials.

I read several of his books and stories, to get a better background on him. Nathaniel wrote from the heart, about his true beliefs, and his loathing of how the witch victims were treated. He did consider it disgraceful, and it certainly was. He added the 'w' to his last name to distance himself from the judge. That tormented him and his family all his life. It must have been cathartic to him to have his writing as his outlet.

For the Love of Hawthorne, now available on AMAZON.

My Website ~ My Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

About Diana:

My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Paris, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, Washington D.C. and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. My husband Chris and I own CostPro, an engineering firm based in Boston. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano, devour books of any genre, and spend as much time as possible living the dream on my beloved Cape Cod.

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John Spear urged Nathaniel to forgive Judge Hathorne. “You don’t have to say it out loud,” John said. “Just forgive him in your heart.”

Nathaniel whispered his forgiveness.

John, Nathaniel and Sophia went to Judge Hathorne’s gravesite to give the journals proper burial.

Grave of Judge Hathorne, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem, MA

The Wayside, the only home the Hawthornes ever owned, in Concord, MA. Nathaniel added that room at the top for his writing studio.

The Wayside, the only home the Hawthornes ever owned, in Concord, MA. Nathaniel added that room at the top for his writing studio.

Visit Salem

www.salem.org

I was fortunate to get a private tour of the House of the Seven Gables when I was writing the book; two of the guides, Ryan Conary and David Moffat, showed me around, and it was fabulous.

Click here to see their book about the house.

 

What a fascinating story (both the historical one of Nathaniel and his ancestors, and of Sophia and his romance)! How about we end with an excerpt?

FIND the book on AMAZON.

(Sophia and Nathaniel’s visit to his cousin Susan Ingersoll at The House of the Seven Gables)

I went over to a curio cabinet and swept my eyes over the items on the shelves—a china doll wearing a calico dress, a stack of gold cups and saucers, a red and blue glass checkerboard propped up to display its surface…and a wooden hammer on the top shelf. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a gavel that judges use in trials. Out of curiosity I picked it up and a shock ran through me as if electrified. Dear God, was it that gavel?

I dropped it to the rug. It landed with a thump. I bent to retrieve it. Somehow I knew it wouldn’t shock me this time—that was only an initial warning. “Something about it made me want to touch it, to pick it up and hold it.”

Nathaniel approached me. He stared at the gavel in my hand, horror darkening his eyes. His lips parted but no words emerged. I knew what he was thinking—the curse. He turned to his cousin, pointing at the gavel, his arm trembling.

Susan hurried over to us, took it from me and placed it back on the shelf. “Yes, it’s Judge Hathorne’s. What happened, Sophie? Are you all right?”

I looked down at my open hands, palms up. They burned as if I’d touched a hot poker. “That gavel—it carries something evil. Has anything happened to you with this, Susie?”

Nathaniel backed away and before Susan could answer me, he grasped her arm. “I begged you to get rid of that accursed thing! You know it shouldn’t be here!”

She looked from him to me, heaving a deep sigh. “I’m not inclined to dispose of it, Natty. It’s a family heirloom, notwithstanding its past.”

He gripped the chair, his face drained of color. “It’s downright evil. You know what he used that thing for.”

She held her hands up in surrender. “Very well, I’ll conceal it.” She took it off the shelf and slid it behind the checkerboard.

“That should not be in this house!” He stood his ground, his eyes fixed on the checkerboard as if it would melt in such close proximity to that horrid object.

“It’s fine there, Natty. It’s concealed from sight now.” She looked at me and gestured for me to sit again. I sat and gulped my sherry.

“Nathaniel’s always overcome with distress at the witch trials.” Susan explained what I already knew.

“And so should you be,” he cut in.

“If I must speak for Judge Hathorne, I heard stories of him from my grandfather.” Susan looked from Nathaniel to me. “The whole hysteria that caught up the judge was started by unscrupulous men to further their own riches. But spectral evidence was still admissible. No sane person could believe that blithery.” 


The Incongruity of Beauty: A "glimpse" into Stephen B. King's 2nd book in the series

The Incongruity of Beauty 

We use the word beauty in many different scenarios and situations, but could we ever use it to describe death? In Glimpse, the Beautiful Deaths, criminal psychologist Patricia Holmes, attached to the Major Crime Squad of the Western Australian Police Department, certainly does.

That’s a beautiful dress, we might say, or what a beautiful day, those flowers are beautiful, that child has a beautiful personality, she has a beauty spot  on her cheek……….You get the idea for how often we can use the adjective. I’ve even heard sports commentators say what a beautiful shot, he’s swimming beautifully and once, in a heavy weight boxing match, what a beautiful knock out punch.

It seems to me to be over-used, and in some cases is completely opposite from what the word actually means. Patricia Holmes asks us to consider beauty in its purest from. She describes a man who has an obsession to own and possess beautiful things so badly it leads to six cases of murder.

The second book in the Glimpse series  releases April 10th .

The second book in the Glimpse series releases April 10th.

During a meeting with homicide detectives where she delivers the profile of the man they are hunting, she nicknames him Gordon. She urges the men to think of him that way: an ordinary man, not a master criminal or Serial Killer. She believes he doesn’t even consider what he has done to be murder and she poses the riddle to the men:

When is a serial killer not a murderer?

The bodies of six young girls, each of them the epitome of beauty when they were alive, have been found in a cave system in the South of the State. Malnourished, dehydrated, and showing no signs of violence, they appear to have wasted away until death overtook them. Then, they were interred in the caves, each with flowers left with them, at an average of once every year or so.

The caves are hard to get to, and located near a breathtakingly beautiful place called The Blue Lake, and Pat thinks it’s the beauty of the place which led him to bring the bodies there. She describes how she believes Gordon had a hideous life since childhood; that he was born a gentle, caring, artistic child who was treated abysmally by one or both parents.

She says they would have said things to him like: “You’re bloody useless, Gordon! Why can’t you ever do anything right, Gordon? You’re not trying hard enough, Gordon!”

She further thinks he wanted to follow his artistic ideals but received nothing but criticism and ridicule from the two people who should have encouraged it.  They stifle him, yet he is too downtrodden to resist or even speak up for himself. Instead he develops his passion for beauty in things like gardening and collecting things which to him signify true beauty. Pat predicts he has a secret room where he can indulge himself and enjoy all the beautiful things he isn’t permitted outside his secret world. He will collect things like African Butterflies, postage stamps, or porcelain dolls, paintings – anything which allows him to forget how ugly his real life is. He lives in a fantasy world, far removed from his real life.

She goes further, by saying Gordon tried to escape when he married, but being so meek and mild he would have attracted a dominant woman, and for him, it would have been a case of out of the frying pan, into the fire. She will be even worse, she predicts, than his parents were, and she forbids the beauty he craves which is denied him.

And so, Sgt. Rick McCoy, with Patricia Holmes and the rest of the task force hunt a man addicted to beauty. They believe when he came across each stunningly beautiful young girl, he had to own and possess them, to capture the very essence of them, to idolize them. But when they were imprisoned, they were no longer free, and they ceased to be what they were before he took them. They slowly lost the one thing that he craved from them: their beauty.

Meanwhile Rick and Pat are each fighting their own cravings. They are married, yet the more they work together, the more they are attracted to each other, and the more they want to take the irrevocable step, from friendly, flirting work colleagues, to lovers. But if they do, what will the effect be on their relationship, and their marriages?

There are many dark clouds on Rick and Pat’s horizon; a storm is coming. Solving the beautiful deaths will be the least of their problems. The storm has a name: PPP; the serial killer locked away by them in a mental hospital. He is plotting his escape, and revenge.

Glimpse, The Beautiful Deaths is released on April 10th, available on Amazon and other online vendors.

Find Stephen online along with his other books

in print, e-book, and audio:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Devil Forget Me, the final book of the Demon Huntress series

Karilyn Bentley is with us today to share about her fifth and final book, Devil Forget Me, in her Demon Huntress series.

Karilyn writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy and her writing journey began young:

I started writing in elementary school, mash-ups between Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie. You know, mysteries featuring an elementary school kid. Or a day in the life of an elementary school kid. But making up stories was forgotten as I grew older and it wasn't until I was married and working in a cube farm that I decided to start writing. While the ideas were (somewhat) good, my actual writing was horrific. So I joined RWA (Romance Writers of America) and DARA (Dallas Area Romance Authors) and started learning the art of writing. And here I am!

Tell us about Devil Forget Me.

I'd love to! My latest book is Devil Forget Me, the 5th and final book of the Demon Huntress series.

Here's the blurb:

What appears to be a simple crime, unmasks a chilling deception...

Gin Crawford, the world's newest demon huntress, kills two minions who are breaking into a financial adviser's office. But what she thinks of as another night in the life of a demon huntress leads to a cover-up of epic proportions. A demon haunts her employer, the Agency, and only she can stop it.

Aidan Smythe, her guardian mage and lover, along with her brother T, and the healer Eloise, join her search in discovering the demon's identity. A search thwarted by a powerful spell.

Breaking the spell requires her to join forces with Zagan, the demon of deceit, the demon who marked her as his. But working together comes with a price. One Gin is not sure she can pay.

 

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

I am published with a small press. I got my start by entering a contest The Wild Rose Press put out a call for about ten years ago. They chose six novellas to go into an anthology and mine was one of them. I've been with them every since.

 Any new projects on the horizon?

I do have a new project! Unfortunately I'm not allowed to talk about it yet. Stay tuned!

 ((ohh secretive! I love it!))

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

It's a quote from Galaxy Quest. Never give up, never surrender.

((and I love that quotation!))

EXCERPT:

    She chuckles as I sip my beer. “Not nothing. I am trying to discover the identity of the demon at theAgency.” She frowns. “It’s not going well. I know I know who the demon is, but every time I think of its identity”—her hands move in a poof motion—“it

vanishes.”

     “Yeah, I have the same problem.”

     A memory pops into my mind. Two memories, actually. The first was of last night’s fight with Rahab. How the demon said he only had one demon left to kill in order to rule Hell. Mammon, the demon of greed. The second memory was from last week when Smythe and I went to the Agency. We ran into Chuck Tweedy, the Big Boss of the Agency, and my justitia couldn’t stop chanting “greedy.” I assumed the bracelet got its

words mixed up, exchanging Tweedy for greedy. But what if there was a connection?

     A dull pain hammers my head. I rub my brow. What was I thinking? We were talking about the Agency demon. Who could it be?

     “You do have the same problem.” Eloise touches my leg, and the headache disappears. “That’s what happened to me.”

     “How did you know?” Eloise was blind, although I swear at times she sees fine. “I could feel your pain.” Her brow furrows. “Like a spell had been thrown at you that caused the headache. I wonder if the same thing happens when I get a headache from thinking on the demon’s identity.”

     “Wait. You mean whenever I think about who the demon is, my thoughts trigger a spell? What does the spell do?”

Where to find Karilyn:   Website  ~  Newsletter  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Goodreads  ~  Pinterest  ~  BookBub

Where to find Karilyn:

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

Speed round with Karilyn:

Ice cream? Butter PecanCoffee or tea or wine? Tea

Where is your favorite place you've visited (or wish to visit)? I loved Sweden and wouldn't mind going back

What do you like to do when not writing? Read, take hikes with my dogs, and learn a different language

Beach, lake, or mountains? Mountains!

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? Mid-morning rooster. Definitely NOT a night owl!

You find a $100 bill in your purse/bag, what would you spend it on? First I'd want to know how it got in there. Then I'd go have fun buying clothes and books.

Favorite childhood book? Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie series. Yes, I  know, that's more than one.

Karilyn Bentley's love of reading stories and preference of 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.

Lion Dancing for Love: the latest in the Deerbourne Inn series

What inspired Lion Dancing for Love?

I wanted to write a story that reflected the multi-cultural world we live in, and how, as human beings, we have far more in common than we have differences. I have a number of Chinese friends and I have always been intrigued by their culture, and the process whereby immigrants are absorbed into the mainstream culture and what they retain and what they lose from their culture of origin. My heroine Caitlin’s family is typical of many immigrant families in that her granny, who was born in America to Chinese immigrants, is still very Chinese. However, her mother married an Anglo American, so Caitlin has a foot in both worlds. My hero Corey, however, is a born and bred Vermonter several generations back.

As a city dweller my whole life, I am also always intrigued by the differences between large and small towns and how individuals used to the hustle and bustle of large cities adapt (or don’t) to the intimacy of smaller towns.

Licking her wounds after a bad relationship, San Diego accountant Caitlyn Summers travels to Willow Springs to help her friend gear up for the annual Maple Sugar Ball. She isn't planning on staying long, but one encounter with the delicious Corey Duncan has her re-evaluating her plans. 

Corey swore off love when his wife Annie died from breast cancer. Caitlyn is too young, too citified, and vibrates with a passion and energy that will upend the safe, comfortable rhythm of his life. Corey has to choose between playing it safe and taking a risk on love. Caitlyn needs to find the patience to let Corey lead. If not, the Maple Sugar Ball might end in a sticky mess, instead of a slow dance with the man who has captured her heart. 

Will their fire burn hot enough to erase doubts and past hurts?

Did you learn any interesting discovery or tidbit of info while researching/writing this book?

Lion Dancing costume similar to Caitlyn and Corey’s in the book

Lion Dancing costume similar to Caitlyn and Corey’s in the book

So many! However, the ones tied to the lion dance were most interesting. I’m familiar with the color and pageantry of Chinese New Year celebrations, but it wasn’t until I started researching the topic that I found out that a Lion Dance is performed to usher in good luck and fortune. It is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals – including the opening of new businesses. That’s the link that allowed me to tie a Lion Dance to the Maple Sugar Ball held in Willow Springs.

I also discovered that 1.5% of Vermont’s population is Asian in origin, of which at least some are Chinese, so I felt comfortable introducing Chinese characters despite its French colonial history and association with maple sugar, maple syrup and skiing.

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

I’ve always been a bit of a nerd and a bookworm, so many people are surprised to find out that I paid for my university education with a tennis scholarship.

How about an excerpt?

Caitlin gulped in a cooling draught of fresh morning air. She didn’t want to get off to a bad start with Annette’s friends and neighbors, but she would not, could not, say anything good about that show.

“So not a fan of reality TV, huh?” Corey sounded amused.

She bristled. “No.”

“Up to people what they want to do with their time, isn’t it? Popular entertainment has been around since the Romans fed gladiators to the lions. I’m sure some Romans found other entertainment, plays and suchlike.”

“It’s the biggest con job, on both participants and audiences. The only people who get rich are the producers who dream up the rubbish.” She gave him a sidelong glance. “I suppose I’ve offended you.”

Corey shook his head. “Not me. I’m hard to offend. Besides, I like to watch sports. Also reality TV, but not scripted.” He winked at her.

“So they say,” she muttered, but her tension eased.

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those conspiracy theorists who thinks every match is fixed?” He clutched at his heart. “And I thought we were developing a beautiful friendship.”

“We can’t be friends if I don’t like sports?”

He shrugged, but his lips tilted up, and his eyes twinkled. Built and a sense of humor. Why couldn’t he live in San Diego?

 

LauraBoon2.jpg

Laura Boon stole her first romance from her father’s bookshelves as a teenager, The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and was immediately captivated. After holding a variety of positions in publishing, from bookseller to sales rep and publicist, she eventually found the courage to write her own stories. She was born in Zambia, grew up in South Africa, and went to university in America. She now lives in Australia with her husband and their fur babies Beau and Arro. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys sleuthing for artisan chocolate and beautiful stationery, watching tennis, and walking alongside Sydney’s beautiful harbor. Laura was name 2018 Australian Romance Readers of Australia Debut Romance Author of the year (The Millionaire Mountain Climber).

You can find Laura on her blog or Facebook page and on Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads, Bookbub and Amazon.

 

Catch the other Deerbourne Inn stories on Amazon

and other e-book vendors. 

 

Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer, Book 1, now on AUDIO!

If I can be still living my dream at age sixty-three, so can anyone.

The journey of living my dream continues…

I’ve told anyone who wanted to listen, and some who didn’t, that for all of my life I had a dream of being a published author. Now I know lots of people share that dream; and anyone who has signed a publishing contract knows what it feels like when that is achieved. In my case I reached that wonderful milestone at age 58 when my first book, Forever Night, was contracted to The Totally Entwined Group (Bonnier UK). So, you could say it took 58 years to become an overnight success. I’m 63 now, and who knows how many books are left in me before the grim reaper comes calling – lots I hope, but really, who knows? A good friend of mine said recently at a poker game that men between the ages of 55 and 65 are in the sniper’s telescopic sight, a sobering thought indeed. My tenth book is now in the editing stages with my wonderful publisher The Wild Rose Press (NY) and I have to keep pinching myself to make sure I’m awake. Yes, I know that’s a cliché and authors should never use them, but in this case, it’s true.

Very recently Book 1 of The Deadly Glimpses trilogy, Glimpse, Memoir of a Serial Killer, was released on audio, and while this is my second audio book, it was much more involved in production than my first (Thirty-Three Days) due to the subject matter. The point is, that it is another example of me being lucky to be ‘living the dream’ I’ve had all my life. It’s important to me that I don’t trivialize any of the rungs on the ladder I’ve climbed, or bucket list things I’ve ticked off, so please believe that this book coming to audio is one of those, OMG moments in time for me.

To try to put this into context, from writing the first line of this book [“I was five years old when I first saw someone bleed out”] to the audio release took over a year. In that time I performed rewrites galore, worked with two editors, which meant six editing rounds. So, safe to say I know every word off my heart. We were very fortunate to snap up the wonderful narrator Geoffrey Boyes who did Thirty-Three Days for us; he read the book and volunteered to do the whole trilogy, because he loved it so much. So then I worked with him, listening to his work, and offering edits and suggestions. An example of his dedication to his craft was that he was concerned he had to get the Serial Killer just right and he did three different characterizations and sent them to me for my approval.

Slowly the project came together.

When it was released, I bought a copy from Audible.com. I didn’t have to, I had the files, but I did, and then spent the next few days listening to it on my long drives to and from work. I don’t want to sound in any way conceited, but……….. It gave me goosebumps. Geoffrey’s portrayal of all the characters, but of PPP, the murderer, in particularly, still makes the hairs on the back of my arms raise up. I wrote the story, I knew what was coming next, but can I say in all truthfulness, listening to it was fantastic? Because so much of the book is in memoir form, Geoffrey had to distinguish between what the killer thought (and wrote) and what he said in dialogue, and he nailed it. There were a few occasions I arrived at my destination, but had to keep listening because it was exciting.

Sure, I get that for many people, this story isn’t their cup of tea. A romance lover may not want to read about a serial killer, even though there is a very distinct love story across the three books. I don’t know how many people will read, or listen to the book, but for me, this blog post isn’t about that. I’ve brought up five children, and for all their lives I’ve tried to teach them to dream high, never give up, never stop trying and never listen to the people who would try to stop them reaching their goals. If I can be still living my dream at age sixty-three, so can anyone. My kids are proud of me, and I can take that to my grave with a smile on my face.

Available on  Amazon .

Available on Amazon.

Find Stephen online: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

What are people saying about Glimpse?

5.0 out of 5 stars edge of your seat thriller

REVIEWED BY: LINDA TONIS
MEMBER OF THE PARANORMAL ROMANCE REVIEW TEAM

Detective Sergeant Richard “Rick” McCoy of the Australian Police Department is struggling to deal with the fact that his wife discovered he cheated and threw him out leaving him missing both his wife and five year old daughter Amy. Rick knew that he was to blame for his marriage falling apart but when he is assigned to a murder of a woman found in pieces in a suitcase in the rubbish dump he has no idea how his life will change.

This is not the typical story of who done it but it is a story told in detail by the serial killer himself. The killer’s dad was a butcher whose wife left him and her son when he was just five. As a young boy he would watch as his father butchered meat and found himself fascinated by the sight of blood but just before his twelfth birthday he discovered his mother didn’t leave but was lying dead inside his dad’s freezer and his dad was lying in a pool of blood after killing himself. In spite of the fact that his dad beat him, he loved him but now he was put into an orphanage where his dad’s beatings were nothing compared to what he suffered there.

When his uncle finally took guardianship of him he learned what real abuse was because his uncle was a pervert and a homosexual who used him till he was eighteen. Instead of trying to go back to the orphanage he chose to stay with the monster he knew and not risk finding himself with a worse one.

Rick is trying to find the killer but there are no clues, no fingerprints, nothing to lead them to him. The only good thing that happened for him was he was reunited with his wife and child and this time was determined to change and be the husband his wife deserved. As time went by the case was cold but the killer was far from done and a finger is sent to Rick at the station with a note threatening to remove a body part every two days if Rick didn’t catch him, the note is signed PPP. The note was addressed to Rick personally and in time his connection with the killer would be revealed, but not by me.

Patricia Holmes a forensic psychologist is enlisted to help and she seems to have an uncanny insight into the killer but more are dead and they are no closer to catching him. This story is not for the weak of heart because some of the very explicit violence can be disturbing to say the least. The hunt for the killer is done so well that I could not put the book down. Although this is fiction it is scary in the fact that we know that monsters such as this exist and we have had our fair share in the United States.

I was hooked from the first page and watched as the killer was tormented his entire life and although I found myself feeling sorry for him at times I don’t believe that how you grew up is a cause for what you become when you are an adult. I can’t wait for the next book in the series and hopefully the wait won’t be too long.