Mystery

Animal Instincts

Patricia RosemoorWebUSA Today Bestselling Author Patricia Rosemoor has written 95 published novels that have generated more than seven million sales for eight publishers. Her fascination with “dangerous love” has led her to bring a different mix of thrills and chills and romance to each book. ANIMAL INSTINCTS and CRIMSON DUET (2 related holiday novels at a discounted price) are now available at digital retailers.

Welcome Patricia!

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What fun, a blog that specializes in books with horses, romance and mystery. I’ve done a few of those myself, including BORN TO BE WILD for Entangled last year. And my new Entangled Ignite, ANIMAL INSTINCTS, definitely has animals, but, alas, no horses.

            The vet was blocking my line of sight. I looked down beyond her. A wounded animal lay on the ground. Not a dog, but what looked like a scrawny coyote, its side open and soaked with blood. What was a wild animal doing here? Where had it come from?AnimalInstincts500 FINAL

I went around the camera equipment and was able to sense its heartbeat. Wanting to know if it was aware, I tuned in to it and got the weirdest sensation…help me…please…almost as if I could hear what it was thinking rather than seeing images as I normally did.  Animals never communicated with me like that.

            …hurt…can’t move…hide…

            A little spooked, I rubbed my arms and thought, We’re going to help you…won’t let you die. Then I looked to the vet.

            “Um, in case you didn’t realize it, the coyote’s alive and needs your help.”

            “It’s still alive?” The vet zeroed in on the animal. “Don’t get too close.” And glanced up at me. “Oh, it’s you.”

            “Skye Cross,” I said, but she didn’t volunteer her name.

            She knew my face like I knew hers. I had a habit of showing up when animals were in trouble, so many of the ACC vets and officers recognized me on sight.

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Skye Cross is a pet supply store owner and animal rescuer. At the beginning of ANIMAL INSTINCTS, she thinks she’s seeing that rescued dogs from a fight are safe. But they’re not dogs, they’re predators. Later she learns they’re something else altogether, and hero Luc Lazare is one of them!

bigstock-Black-Leopard--Years--4788401I loved writing this book. Actually, it practically wrote itself.

Of all the heroines I’ve written, I identify most closely with Skye. I’ve had a lifelong love with animals. Didn’t always have them because I was “allergic” and my parents wanted me to stay away from them. So I had an outside cat. When I was older, my parents did get me a dog. But once I was on my own, I started adopting cats and rescuing them from the streets of Chicago. My husband and I rescued a few dogs, too, one of whom made his home with us.

My love of animals brought me to the Lincoln Park Zoo so often that I decided to volunteer there, which I did for eleven years. And while I was still at the zoo, I decided to volunteer at the brand new PAWS Chicago adoption center. I helped socialize cats who were usually wary of humans, and helped convince visitors to adopt now. Many cats and dogs had been taken off the street by Animal Control, and on a daily basis, PAWS went to AC and took the adoptables.

PAWS also sponsored some Humane Society of Illinois meetings about passing laws against dogfighting. Wanting to spread awareness of this terrible practice, I thought to write a story in which murders were linked to dogfighting, but I became convinced that it would be a hard sell, so I switched it to shifter fights, with seeming wild animals as the combatants.

The holidays from Thanksgiving to the New Year is a time of giving, and I’m hoping that this year, those of you who can will support an animal shelter or sanctuary or zoo, whether it is by volunteering, buying gifts that help the organization or by donation. Here are a couple of places that I support:

PAWS Chicago, with it’s adoption center, spay and neuter clinic, and at the forefront of animal advocacy.

Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the last free zoos in the country.

And for all you horse lovers, the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, where I did on-site research (South Dakota) for TOUCH ME IN THE DARK, my third book in The McKenna Legacy series.

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ANIMAL INSTINCTS buy links:
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ko2lqu9
BN: http://tinyurl.com/kftlhhd
Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/m2uvz2r
iTunes: http://tinyurl.com/m99o29p

You can find Patricia at
Website: http://patriciarosemoor.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatriciaRosemoorAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PRosemoor

Categories: Books, Dogs and cats, fantasy, Love, Mystery, Paranormal, romance, Romantic suspense, shape shifters, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Top Ten Reasons I’m Thankful To Be A Writer

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Elysa Hendricks is the author of 14 full-length books, ranging from sweet contemporary to sexy sci-fi, as well as numerous short stories.  Her “real life” motto is: Boring is good. Excitement is vastly overrated, so she saves the adventure and excitement for the characters in her books.

In keeping with the season, today she is talking about the Top Ten Reasons She’s Thankful to be a Writer.

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With Thanksgiving approaching I thought I’d talk about some of the reasons why I’m thankful I’m a writer rather than a veterinarian or an artist. (Those were my other choices, but I I’m terrible at math and science, and the only thing I can paint with is words.)

10.  I’m thankful for my family and friends, because they give me a ton of bat-shit crazy material to work with. Of course, I always change the names and descriptions to protect the guilty.

9.  My health. Not having the stress of office politics or commuting in traffic keeps my blood pressure close to normal. And since I don’t go out much I’m not exposed to nasty germs. Of course, I do need to stop eating chocolate while I’m writing, and get up and move a bit before I meld to my chair.

8.  I love being able to spend hours online researching stuff without feeling like I’m wasting time. Even the time I “waste” playing Solitaire (the one game I play on my computer) isn’t really wasted. While I’m matching cards I’m also plotting the comeuppance of the villain or figuring out how to get my hero and heroine alone together.

7.  Wealth – cashing large royalty checks from the sales of my books. Well, I can dream, can’t I? A career as a writer might not be the path to monetary riches, but I’m more than compensated for my hard work in personal achievement and satisfaction.

6.  Having a vivid imagination, I can spend time in other places, times, and realities. I can climb mountains, fly planes and space ships, skydive, drive racecars and motorcycles, kill zombies or aliens, chase serial killers or terrorists, and have sex with a bad boy or two without taking any real physical risks or cheating on my loving husband.

5.  Being a writer allows me to work from home or anywhere I want. Under an umbrella on a tropical beach while a cute cabana boy brings me frozen Margaritas is my ultimate goal.

4.  When people annoy me I can write them into a story then torture and kill them without ending up in jail.

3.  I find it wonderful that being a writer I’m never bored or lonely. No matter what’s happening in my “real” life, I can escape into my fictional worlds. I can talk to my numerous imaginary friends and not end up in a padded room. They’re always telling me stories and nagging me to write them down. I often wonder what people who don’t write think about while they’re waiting in the doctor’s office or at the mechanic’s.

2.  I’m eternally indebted to my long-suffering husband who supports my writing and me. Otherwise I’d have to go out and get a job that pays money.

1.  And most of all I’m appreciative of the many readers who’ve told me how my stories have touched their lives.

These are just a few of the things I’m grateful for as a writer. What are you thankful for?

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Thomas Cash (TC) Riley is mad, bad and – dead. Killed in a one car-wreck, the twenty-nine-year old playboy is given one last chance to redeem himself for living a selfish, unfulfilled life and to determine his soul’s final destination.

To help his young daughter recover from the loss of her mother, Daniel Bishop, a widower who dislikes the country and is allergic to anything with fur, has moved back to his wife’s rural hometown to be close to her large family.

Katherine Sinclair, the local veterinarian and the single mother of an adventurous ten-year old son, is wary of the handsome newcomer. Once before she’d given her heart to a wealthy, charming man and she’d ended up pregnant and alone.

With the help of a lonely little girl and a brash young boy, can TC find a way to bring these two damaged people together? Can he remember his past and save his soul in the allotted time?

And can he do it all as a cat?

Excerpt:

“Mom, you’re squeezing too hard.”

JT complained, but Kat could feel him trembling and his heart raced in time with hers. She gripped his arms and thrust him out from her.

“That was the most foolish, dangerous stunt. You could have been badly hurt. If it wasn’t for this man. . .” Her voice trailed off as she looked up at the man now standing next to them. Her gaze traveled up his khaki-clad legs, skipped quickly past his slim hips over his broad chest to his face. The crowd of people – ancient, fussy Amelia Muellner with her troop of yapping Chihuahuas, George Baker and his hunting dog, young Timmy Widowski and his mother with his sick rabbit, and Missy Taylor and her cat – clustered around them, chattering and gesturing in excitement, faded away.

With the man’s body in silhouette against the sun, she couldn’t see his features, but like a stately oak tree in the middle of field of brambles, he radiated an aura of calm, of solid strength, someone to cling to when the weather turned mean and ugly.

Something twisted painfully inside Kat. Though her grandfather had always been there for her, in the last few years his health had failed and his mind had drifted to the past. She’d had to become the strong one, physically and emotionally. Then he’d died. Now there was no one in her life she could lean on, depend on, count on to be there for her when things got rough.

Anger at her weakness, her need for what she knew she’d never have sharpened her tone. “Thank you.” She saw the man recoil, but before she could start again, JT, fear forgotten jumped in without reservation.

“Man that was awesome, better than a carnival ride. Thanks. You saved my a -”

“JT,” Kat growled a warning.

“Butt,” JT amended quickly with a grin.

She stood, smiled and held out her hand to the man. “I’m Dr. Clark, Katherine Clark, Kat to my friends.”

A thrill ran up her arm as his strong, warm fingers closed around hers. With a nervous laugh she snatched them away. “Thank you again.”

“Daniel Bishop, and this is my daughter, Alana.” He laid his hand on the girl’s shoulder.

Kat recognized the name. He was Hannah Sager’s husband – widower. Try as Kat did, she couldn’t avoid hearing small town gossip. Hannah’s death had hit the close-knit Sager clan hard. Tall, thin, blonde, beautiful, brilliant and driven, Hannah had been the town’s bright, flaming star.

Kat had grown up with Hannah. As children they’d been inseparable, but after high school they’d grown apart. Still, the bond between them had never been broken, so when Hannah asked for advice on what to do about her future, Kat had encouraged her to follow her dream and take the job at a Chicago zoo. It wasn’t true, but the Sagers, especially Hannah’s mother felt Kat had only done so because she didn’t want any competition for her veterinary practice. After considering the Sagers almost a second family, their current enmity hurt. Though the Sagers didn’t have the social standing of the Sinclairs they were wealthy and powerful in the community, so Kat tread lightly around them.

Nor, according to gossip, were they accepting of Daniel. They blamed him not only for keeping Hannah away from them, but also as irrational as it might be, for her death.

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You can buy Must Love Cats at:

Amazon:  is.gd/mlcamazon04

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/366089

See the Video Trailer:  is.gd/mlctrailer01

Contact Elysa:

Web Site:  http://www.elysahendricks.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elysa-Hendricks-Author/137316289643103

Categories: fantasy, Love, Mystery, Uncategorized, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

A DREAM COME TRUE

GloriaToday I’d like to welcome Gloria Alden author of the Catherine Jewell mystery novels The Blue Rose and Daylilies for Emily’s Garden. Gloria is a former third grade teacher who is spending her retirement writing short stories and novels. Her published short stories include “Cheating on Your Wife Can Get You Killed,” winner of the 2011 Love is Murder contest; “Mincemeat is for Murder” which appeared in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, “The Professor’s Books” in the FISH TALES Anthology; and “The Lure of the Rainbow” in FISH NETS, the newest Guppy Anthology. Her latest novel Ladies of the Garden Club will be coming out soon.

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A DREAM COME TRUE

When I was a young girl, I galloped everywhere hitting my thigh to go faster on my imaginary horse. I galloped through fields and woods leaping logs, galloped across the road to my cousin’s house or to my grandparents farm and sometimes further down the road to another cousin’s house. Sometimes I rode Wildfire, and sometimes it was Thunderhead or Flicka or another horse in my stable of horses. I dreamed of someday having a ranch in the west with hundreds of horses.

I think my love of horses came from the story my dad told of a pony he rode one summer in the mining town in Pennsylvania where he grew up. My grandfather was foreman of the mining stable. The superintendent of the mine bought a beautiful black pony for his son, and it was kept in the mining stable. The pony tossed the boy the first time he tried to ride it so the superintendent asked my father, about the same age as his son, to ride and gentle it. All summer my father rode that pony, but the superintendent’s son never got over his fear of it so the pony was eventually sold.

During my galloping period, I read every horse book in my small rural library numerous times, and at Christmas I usually got a horse book, too. I dreamed of horses and drew pictures of horses, but I was thirty-eight years old before I finally got my first horse. My husband heard of a horse for sale and took me to see it. Of course, I fell in love with that strawberry roan paint. I thought he was beautiful. A few days later he was delivered. We had no barn, no saddle or bridle or even a lead rope. We did have hay, grain and a water bucket.

We put him in a shed and a few days later my husband and young teenage sons started building a barn – a large barn with five stalls. A week after my horse arrived, I now had a saddle and bridle.  I was ready for my first ride on my very own horse. Now, mind you, my riding had been very limited over the years. Mostly it was while we were on vacation and found a riding stable where you paid for an hour ride with a group on trails following a guide. Seldom did we move out of a walk, but maybe we’d trot a little and once in a great while gallop for a few minutes. Neither my husband nor I had ever saddled a horse, but we’d watched while these trail horses were saddled so we knew how to do it. Or so we thought.

As soon as the horse was saddled, I mounted and headed down a trail into the woods beside our home. He was a high stepper and both of us were eager to be out and on the trail. I was euphoric. His ears were perked forward interested and curious as we went along. And then I turned him around to head back. Maybe I should have thought twice about buying a horse named Rebel because as soon as we were heading back, he took the bit in his mouth, and I couldn’t slow him down. He was heading home, and just where that home was in his mind, I didn’t know. It was then I felt the saddle slip. I learned from that experience, you always tighten the girth, wait a bit for the horse to relax and then tighten it more. Anyway the saddle slipped and ended up under Rebel. Fortunately, I was able to kick my feet free from the stirrups and landed on the ground still holding onto his reins so he didn’t end up in some other county. He jumped about trying to get rid of that thing, but fortunately, I was able to unbuckle the saddle and not get kicked or stepped on.

So at the end of my first ride on my very own horse, I walked home with a saddle on my back now leading a docile horse. It wasn’t exactly the way I had envisioned that first ride. Eventually, Rebel was sold. He was a rebel. Over the years there were other horses and ponies. Once we had five at one time, one we boarded for a friend. My four kids joined 4H, and I became proficient at saddling and caring for horses. I learned to pull a horse trailer to take them to shows and for riding lessons and even took riding lessons, too.ponies2

Then there came a day when I had to move. I had to sell my last two horses because I didn’t have the money to put new fencing around the pasture of the small farm I bought. The house needed too many repairs and the barn needed a new roof. But my love of horses never went away. However, I down sized the dream. Now I have two totally useless small ponies – sisters – that I rationalize keeping as being compost makers for my gardens, but it’s really because I love them.

What dream did you have when you were young? Did it ever come true?

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blueRose_flatIn The Blue Rose Catherine Jewell enjoys the small quiet town she’s recently moved to where she’s a botanist at Elmwood Gardens and also has a small garden center, Roses in Thyme. At least she does until she discovers a body with a garden fork in his back at Elmwood Gardens. John MacDougal, the police chief of Portage Falls, has never had to deal with a murder in his ten years as police chief. As he questions the suspects, many who are Catherine’s co-workers and friends, she works to divert his suspicions elsewhere since she’s sure none of them could be the murderer. When another body is discovered, they start working together, and in spite of their inexperience and several close calls with death, they solve the murders and restore calm to the little town of Portage Falls.

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In Daylilies for Emily’s Garden Catherine Jewell is excited about restoring the gardens at the estate ofdaylilies_frontPreview1 the reclusive Emily Llewellyn. Everything for this project is arranged through Charles McKee, her secretary and companion. Catherine’s curiosity of this eccentric recluse is piqued when her only contact with Emily is through brief glimpses of her through a window before she quickly disappears. Catherine’s excitement dims a little when she discovers a dead body. Meanwhile other unsettling events are going on in Portage Falls. A bypass coming closer to town threatens wet lands and the residents are divided on the next phase of the construction.  When environmental activist Bruce Twohill comes to save the wetlands some consider him a savior while others like Police Chief John MacDougal are suspicious of this stranger. Another dead body is discovered and the buzz around town thinks it’s connected with the first body.  Returning characters from The Blue Rose plus new and interesting or quirky characters add color to the small town of Portage Falls in this second book in The Catherine Jewell Mystery Series.

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Both books are available on Amazon and Smashwords

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You can contact Gloria at:
Website: www.gloriaalden.com
http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com

Categories: Horses, Mystery, nature, outdoors, ponies, riding, Romantic suspense, Trail riding, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Cats In my Stories

Welcome Andrew McRae today as he talks about how cats slip into his stories.

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Andrew  is a misplaced Midwesterner who rolled downhill to the San Francisco Bay a quarter-century ago. He is the author of Murder Misdirected (2012) from Mainly Murder Press and “The Case of the Murderous Mermaid and Other Stories” (2013) a collection of whimsical murder mysteries. He has had numerous short stories published in the past few years; notably “Felony at Farquhar Farms” in the collection “The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping” (2012) and “Frankenstein and The Spanish Nun” in the collection “Moon Shot” (2013), both published by Untreed Reads.

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Cats have a way of slipping into my stories, the way cats do. I usually don’t plan on a cat appearing in a story when I first set out to write it, but cats are good at sneaking into places not intended for them, as anyone who has ever lived with a cat knows.

There is a bookstore cat in my novel, Murder Misdirected. His name is Junior and he is handsome, as all male cats are. He sees it as his duty to greet customers and welcome them to his store. Junior also enjoys sunning himself in the bookstore windows and lying on the upper bookshelves of the store where he can keep a close eye on things.

Junior is based totally and completely on the real Junior, a cat who helped me with the writing of that novel. He did this by insisting on keeping my lap from being empty and cleverly batting the keyboard and mouse to see what improvements to my writing might result. Naturally, I in turn attribute any and all typos to Junior, not that that bothers him.

I have to admit that I received more comments about Junior from early readers of the manuscript than most of the other secondary characters. This was especially true during a particularly harrowing chapter in which all the main characters, including Junior, are in deadly danger. “No, not the cat!” was a typical comment.

In my recently completed sequel to that novel, so new as not to have a title settled on, Junior is back, furry as ever and even more pleased with himself.

In my collection of whimsical short mysteries, “The Case of the Murderous Mermaid and Other Stories” another cat makes an appearance. Her name is Precious. She has one eye, sharp claws, and she is based on a cat who lived with the pleasantly wacky mother of a friend of mine, and is the basis of a character, herself, in the story.

However, it is another cat who shows up most often in my stories, one that is not based on any cat with whom I have ever been acquainted in what passes for my real life.

She is a black and white cat of indeterminate age and origin. She is pretty, as all female cats are, but she has no set name. In a series of children’s stories about a toy poodle named Spot, she is simply called “Kitty Cat” and she has a way of disappearing, as all cats do, as she walks away with her tail straight up in the air. She also has a habit annoying Spot by slowly winking one eye at him. Woof!

In a series of stories in the slip-stream genre I have written, The Black and White Cat is sometimes seen strolling in the story’s background, while other times she is perhaps, but only perhaps, a mysterious entity who serves as the catalyst for the story’s action.

In a middle grade novel that I am finishing this month, The Black and White Cat is the cause of two children going back in time (and returning safely, of course.) That cat certainly gets around!

In one of her most tenuous appearances, she shows up in a science fiction mystery story titled, “Frankenstein and The Spanish Nun”. This story will be in the soon to be released “Moon Shot” anthology of short stories from Untreed Reads. There is a young woman in my story with the first name of Katrina, or ‘Kat’ for short. She makes her entrance in the story wearing a black and white headscarf. Cats can be so sneaky at times!

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MD-BookCoverMurder Misdirected is the story of a pickpocket who one day picks the wrong pocket and finds himself on the run from the police, the FBI, and a killer.

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MurderousMermaidPosterThe Case of the Murderous Mermaid and Other Stories is a collection of three whimsical stories of mystery and murder.

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The Case of the Murderous Mermaid and Other Stories
Murder Misdirected
Available now in paperback and ebook from Mainly Murder Press,
Amazon and Untreed Reads.

Categories: Bookstores, Cats, Dogs and cats, Mystery, Short story, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

FOREWARNING Excerpt

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Another 5 star review for FOREWARNING

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Magical.
“A great mystery to the very end. Lots of great realistic characters made this book fun and the main character’s talents believable.”

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Forewarning Cover

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Grieving and guilt-stricken after her husband’s suicide, Kasey Martin has closed her energetic healing practice and retreated to her Oregon horse ranch. One night, she rescues a badly injured man, and against her better judgment, uses her neglected skills to save his life. This starts her on an unexpected journey of healing and danger.

Complicating her life is Jim Bradley, an old friend who has long been in love with her and wants her to return to her work. When criminals looking for her patient invade the serenity of her world, she must use her skills to save all three of their lives.

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Excerpt:

With each step down the deserted hall to the waiting room, the band around Kasey’s chest drew tighter. The frantic desire to scurry back to her ranch, to run from what she had done, almost made her turn around. She suppressed the urge. She needed to find out if the man would be okay, to find out if she had helped—or hurt—him.

She stopped in the ladies room to wash the blood off her hands and clean up a bit. Her mother’s brown eyes and heart-shaped face stared back at her from the mirror as she dried her hands. But the auburn hair she smoothed and gathered into a low ponytail again was her father’s legacy, as was her empathic sensitivity. He possessed an uncanny ability to understand animals and deal with their problems and had been known as a “horse whisperer” long before the term became popular.

His ability to feel emotions extended to people as well as animals, for which Kasey was grateful. Her breath caught as she thought of his gentle love and support. He’d helped her understand and deal with her sensitivity, showing her it was a gift rather than a curse. How often during this past year she’d wished she could turn to him for help, as she had as a child. That wasn’t possible. He had his own pain to deal with, and she couldn’t burden him with hers.

Leaving the restroom, she continued down to the waiting area. Tonight was the first time she’d been to the hospital since Brian’s death, and the small, chair-filled lounge stirred up painful memories. Memories of the man who had been her life. To her relief, the room was empty, and she chose a seat in a corner where she wouldn’t be easily seen.

Exhaustion dropped her into the chair with unexpected force. She tried to focus on the television in the corner; instead the night’s events kept playing over and over in her mind. The blood on the man’s too-pale face. The raw, charred skin of his palm. Her hands focusing healing energy. Her hands focusing healing energy.

Her legs began a restless dance, so she jumped up to walk off some of the tension. What she really needed was to go for a run. Since that wasn’t possible, she returned to her chair and started a deep breathing exercise—in for four counts, hold two, out for seven counts and hold for two. Eventually the rhythmic pattern took effect. Her eyelids closed, and her head flopped to the side in a restless doze.

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Jim Bradley paused at the door of the waiting room and gazed at the sleeping woman. Damn, she’s lovely. Not that Kasey would agree right now, of course, given her mud-stained jeans, green rubber boots and ratty sweatshirt. To him, she looked wonderful. He let the desire he always suppressed when around her thrum freely through his body. For this moment, he didn’t have to be on guard. For this moment, he could just enjoy looking at her and contemplate a time when he could let her know his heart. Soon, he hoped. Soon.

Kasey shifted in her chair and Jim quickly brought his feelings under control, directing his thoughts to the surgery he had just completed. Now was not the time to reveal his yearning. She had enough to deal with tonight. He pulled his shoulders back and headed into the room.

“You’re going to a get a heck of a stiff neck if you stay kinked like that much longer.”

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Available on Amazon

 
Categories: alternative medicine, dressage, energetic healing, healing, Horses, Mystery, nature, outdoors, Paranormal, riding, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Those Doodle Dogs

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Judy 2 (2)Today I’d like to welcome Judy Alter, best selling author of the Kelly O’Connell and Blue Plate Cafe mysteries. You can read  a short excerpt from her most recent release, DANGER COMES HOME, below.
First, in keeping with the animal theme of this blog, Judy is going to talk about her “doodle dogs.” I’m sure you’re just as curious as I am as to what those are.

Welcome Judy.

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I have had and loved dogs all my life—a few Cairn terriers (which we showed) but mostly big dogs—collies, labs, a Labradoodle_Brown (2)couple of Irish wolfhounds, bearded collies, and most recently, an Aussie. When I first saw a labradoodle, I fell in love with the gentle giant—he reminded me of my Irish wolfhounds. I decided then and there I had to have one, cost be darned. They were bred to be hypoallergenic service dogs and have the dispositions to make great companions.

By the time I was ready to get another dog (I still had an aging Aussie), it wasn’t cost that did me in—it was age. My older brother, a physician, advised sternly that a woman of my age (seventy-plus, thank you very much) had no business with an 80 to 100 lb. dog. He was right. I didn’t even walk Scooby, the Aussie, because he pulled me down twice in his unquenchable need to herd everything from school buses to strollers, from UPS trucks to motorcycles. Reluctantly I agreed.

Then I found a kennel that raised mini Labradoodles—bred from miniature poodles. I studied the Web site, corresponded with the owners, and finally sent a deposit. The big day came when the puppies were ready to meet their forever families—and for us, it was a family affair. One son, two daughters, and three grandchildren went with me. The Labradoodles were six weeks old and had just wakened from a nap; they were loving and sweet but quiet, and not one wormed its way into my heart. The owner casually mentioned she had one bordoodle left (border collie and poodle) and brought in a black bundle of energetic playfulness. She chased balls, she played with toys, she licked each of us in joyful exuberance—and she got her spot in my heart right then. She was eight weeks old, and we brought her home that day.Sophie on her first day with us (2)

Scooby, the Aussie, would have nothing to do with her at first, but gradually they really bonded, and he undertook to train her a bit. I only saw him turn on her once, when she tried to steal his treat, and she scooted away quickly, whimpering. When Scooby died, she grieved, slept in his bed, and briefly abandoned her house manners.

Sophie is two-and-a-half now, still full of exuberance. When one of her favorite people—my daughter, my grandson, the lawn guy, or the groomer—arrives, she is ecstatic with enthusiasm, barking, growling, howling (I’ve never known a dog with so many vocal intonations). She loves to play in the house and chase critters outside. I don’t walk her because at 35 lbs. she would easily pull me down in her zeal to chase another dog or a squirrel. Other than that and jumping on peoSophie 8.30.2013ple to tell them how much she loves them, she is well behaved—sits, stays, housebroken, crate-trained, a joy to have. When I work at my desk, she lies at my feet—until she decides she’s had enough of that and it’s playtime. Then she gives a “ruff” and presents me with a toy to toss.

I always think I love the current dog more than any other (except one classic collie I will never forget), but, truly, I do love this dog.

Every night, we sit on the floor and have a little conversation and a lot of petting, and every morning we wake up to a little talk. It starts the day off right to say good morning to my doodle dog.

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Now here is a bit about Judy’s most recent release, DANGER COMES HOME. Available on Amazon and other Ebook retailers.

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 Danger-MD (2).

In Danger Comes Home, dogs, drugs and death take Kelly O’Connell on a wild ride with a runaway girl and her abused mother, a relapsed former gangsta, and a drug-dealing gang in her own neighborhood. Add in an imperious recluse for variety, and as usual Kelly’s life is anything but calm. Husband Mike Shandy is right: she has a talent for trouble.

 

Excerpt

And so we chattered away about plans for the summer as we rounded the corner onto Magnolia. Pony Tail leaned against the building, idly watching us, and didn’t move. Thus began the longest two-block walk I’ve ever taken. I couldn’t ask Mona if she was as wired as I was, but I felt as though my back had a bull’s eye painted on it. Each time we took a step forward, I told myself we were that much closer to the office, but half of me didn’t believe we’d ever make it. There were people on the street ahead of us, and I didn’t dare turn around to see if Pony Tail—or anyone else—was behind us.

“You’re walking too fast,” Mona said. “Dead giveaway, slow down and tell me what you’re cooking for supper tonight.”

Wow! She’s better than I am at this. She’s probably had more practice.

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You can learn more about Judy and her numerous publications at:  http://www.judyalter.com

And catch her blogs at:  http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com
and:  http://potluckwithjudy.blogspot.com

Categories: Books, Dogs and cats, Judy Alter, Love, Mystery, nature, Puppies, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

FOREWARNING – Free Sept. 19-23

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FOREWARNING – Free on Amazon, Sept. 19-23!!

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Forewarning Cover

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Grieving and guilt-stricken after her husband’s suicide, Kasey Martin has closed her energetic healing practice and retreated to her Oregon horse ranch. One night, she rescues a badly injured man, and against her better judgment, uses her neglected skills to save his life. This starts her on an unexpected journey of healing and danger.

Complicating her life is Jim Bradley, an old friend who has long been in love with her and wants her to return to her work. When criminals looking for her patient invade the serenity of her world, she must use her skills to save all three of their lives.

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Excerpt:

With each step down the deserted hall to the waiting room, the band around Kasey’s chest drew tighter. The frantic desire to scurry back to her ranch, to run from what she had done, almost made her turn around. She suppressed the urge. She needed to find out if the man would be okay, to find out if she had helped—or hurt—him.

She stopped in the ladies room to wash the blood off her hands and clean up a bit. Her mother’s brown eyes and heart-shaped face stared back at her from the mirror as she dried her hands. But the auburn hair she smoothed and gathered into a low ponytail again was her father’s legacy, as was her empathic sensitivity. He possessed an uncanny ability to understand animals and deal with their problems and had been known as a “horse whisperer” long before the term became popular.

His ability to feel emotions extended to people as well as animals, for which Kasey was grateful. Her breath caught as she thought of his gentle love and support. He’d helped her understand and deal with her sensitivity, showing her it was a gift rather than a curse. How often during this past year she’d wished she could turn to him for help, as she had as a child. That wasn’t possible. He had his own pain to deal with, and she couldn’t burden him with hers.

Leaving the restroom, she continued down to the waiting area. Tonight was the first time she’d been to the hospital since Brian’s death, and the small, chair-filled lounge stirred up painful memories. Memories of the man who had been her life. To her relief, the room was empty, and she chose a seat in a corner where she wouldn’t be easily seen.

Exhaustion dropped her into the chair with unexpected force. She tried to focus on the television in the corner; instead the night’s events kept playing over and over in her mind. The blood on the man’s too-pale face. The raw, charred skin of his palm. Her hands focusing healing energy. Her hands focusing healing energy.

Her legs began a restless dance, so she jumped up to walk off some of the tension. What she really needed was to go for a run. Since that wasn’t possible, she returned to her chair and started a deep breathing exercise—in for four counts, hold two, out for seven counts and hold for two. Eventually the rhythmic pattern took effect. Her eyelids closed, and her head flopped to the side in a restless doze.

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Jim Bradley paused at the door of the waiting room and gazed at the sleeping woman. Damn, she’s lovely. Not that Kasey would agree right now, of course, given her mud-stained jeans, green rubber boots and ratty sweatshirt. To him, she looked wonderful. He let the desire he always suppressed when around her thrum freely through his body. For this moment, he didn’t have to be on guard. For this moment, he could just enjoy looking at her and contemplate a time when he could let her know his heart. Soon, he hoped. Soon.

Kasey shifted in her chair and Jim quickly brought his feelings under control, directing his thoughts to the surgery he had just completed. Now was not the time to reveal his yearning. She had enough to deal with tonight. He pulled his shoulders back and headed into the room.

“You’re going to a get a heck of a stiff neck if you stay kinked like that much longer.”

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Free on Amazon, Sept. 19-23!!

Categories: alternative medicine, dressage, energetic healing, healing, horse personalities, Horses, Mystery, nature, outdoors, Paranormal, riding, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Art of Breathing for Two

Imported Photos 00004 Joining us today is Susan Schreyer, the author of the just released Shooting To Kill, the fifth book in the Thea Campbell mystery series. Set in the real-life town of Snohomish, Washington, her books feature amateur dressage rider and solver-of-crimes, Thea Campbell.

For those of you not familiar with dressage, it is a type of very precise, formal riding that you see in the Olympics and in the Disney movie The Miracle of the White Stallions.

When not working diligently on her next book, Susan trains horses in the art of dressage and teaches people how to ride them. Today she talks about one of the exultant moments every rider hopes to have. Take it away Susan!

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I was watching a video the other day—Edward Gal and Totilas (European and World Champions, with the highest scores ever achieved) in a freestyle ride that earned the pair a score in excess of 90%—and was struck by something rather profound which, of course, like any truth is not new, but re-experienced.

That truth is: good riding, really good riding, transcends the correct application of the aids and the ability to perform the various movements.

Think about that for a moment.

Do you agree? I’ll bet you do.

Now, tell me this: what is the defining moment—the transcendent point in time where technically proficient grows a soul and becomes art? How do you recognize it when you see it, feel it?

I believe it is that moment when you cease to be the controller of the other creature, and become one—a symbiotic relationship, if you will. You can see it in the relaxation, the fluidity of both parties. There exists a grace that, when I see it (even on video), can reduce me (and likely a couple other of you) to tears. It’s that powerful. You cannot mistake it, you cannot pretend it isn’t there. When witnessed, it hits you in the heart.

When you experience that moment it is like nothing else, no matter how technically wonderful, that has come before. It is an ease that lies at the level of breathing, an effortless balance that requires only intention to shift direction or gait, an open door that allows access to levels of power at once heady and frightening when first encountered.

It’s the Buzz Lightyear moment: to infinity and beyond.

The Holy Grail of dressage.

If you’ve been riding for a while, and trying to improve, there is a good chance you’ve experienced this—even if for a brief moment six months ago. Quite a number of riders are familiar with that transcendent point. Perhaps it was fleeting, something that happened by “mistake.” Or, if you’re very lucky (not to mention diligent) it was something you achieved and can return to at will. Nevertheless, it is that joining of our souls to that of our four-legged companions that keeps us going, keeps us striving, keeps us getting our butts out to the barn when we’d rather be curled up with a glass of wine and a good book.

This possibility to become one, to join with our noble friend, gets us into the saddle when our bones are too old and our bodies hurt. We smile when we remember the times we touched the dream, and we willingly try again for just one more taste.

Happy riding, people.

If you’d like to see the video Susan is talking about:
http://www.horseandcountry.tv/episode/edward-gal-moorlands-totilas-record-breaking-wdm-kur

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300x480 72dpi shooting to killWhen Thea Campbell’s veterinarian collapses after accidentally injecting himself with a horse vaccine, Thea rushes to his aid. Despite her best efforts, the much-loved vet dies. In the wake of this tragic fluke, Thea reconsiders her own cautious approach to relationships.

Life, Thea decides, might be shorter than you expect, and procrastination a death-bed regret.

She immediately accepts her best friend’s last-minute wedding invitation and embraces the planning of her own marriage to fiancé Paul Hudson.

However, on return from her friend’s wedding, Thea has little opportunity to pursue her new philosophy. Her veterinarian’s death has been ruled a murder, his young assistant arrested and accused of deliberately substituting euthanasia solution for the West Nile vaccine.

The only person to believe in the assistant’s innocence is Thea’s sister Juliet. She intends to investigate and begs Thea for help. But Thea believes the case is closed and the police have arrest the right person. Besides, she intends to concentrate on planning her wedding.

…However, the chilling fact is Thea was right about life being shorter than expected. Procrastination is not on the killer’s agenda.

http://tinyurl.com/qauup5a

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Susan can be run to earth at most bookstores and ebook retailers, as well as the following locations;

Susan Schreyer Mysteries website: http://www.susanschreyer.com

Things I Learned From My Horse blog: http://thingsilearnedfrommyhorse.blogspot.com

Writing Horses blog: http://writinghorses.blogspot.com

Twitter @susanschreyer

FaceBook: Susan Schreyer Mysteries

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Schreyer-Mysteries/161359303906634

Categories: Books, dressage, Horses, Mystery, riding, Romantic suspense, suspense, training horses, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Weekend Snippets #12

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It’s Weekend Snippets time again and I’m  continuing with a bit from  FOREWARNING, the first book of my Horses and Healing Mysteries series.

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I’m also giving a larger excerpt on the Virtual EBook Fair Event on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/events/202609846566492/  Come take a look at all the great books being featured.

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Kasey Martin, an energetic healer who has renounced her skills, awakens in the middle of a storm. When a sudden wave of pain hits her, she realizes that someone–a man–is injured and she goes to investigate.
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The three-sided shed gave partial protection from the storm, but the rain had turned the saturated ground to muck. The man rolled toward her with a groan. Definitely a stranger—in his thirties, with dark hair and a muscular build. He was soaked to the skin, clad in a light jacket and slacks that provided no protection from the downpour. Blood from a head wound covered his face. He looked much too pale and his dark eyes were glazing. The beginnings of shock.
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Forewarning Cover
Grieving and guilt-stricken after her husband’s suicide, Kasey Martin has closed her energetic healing practice and retreated to her Oregon horse ranch. One night, she rescues a badly injured man, and against her better judgment, uses her neglected skills to save his life. This starts her on an unexpected journey of healing and danger.  Complicating her life is Jim Bradley, an old friend who has long been in love with her and wants her to return to her work. When criminals looking for her patient invade the serenity of her world, she must use her skills to save all three of their lives.

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Be sure to check out more fabulous snippets Snippet Sunday, on Facebook
and also. on the Weekend Writing Warriors website
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Happy reading!
Categories: alternative medicine, energetic healing, healing, horse personalities, Horses, Mystery, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Welcome Marsha West

I’d like to welcome Marsha West, author of the newly released VERMONT ESCAPE.  (Yes, I know, a very similar title to my Wyoming Escape. We met online long after both novels had been titled.) Vermont Escape is the story of Jill Barlow, a widow  whose father is murdered two years after her husband was killed. She decides to leave her home and moves to a lovely Vermont town to start a new life. But her worst fears are proven true when the killers pursue her, convinced she has evidence that could destroy their game.

Before revealing an excerpt from her exciting novel, Marsha has agreed to answer my sometimes pertinent and oft times impertinent questions about life, writing and nonsense. Thanks so much for visiting Marsha!

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Marsha West.

Who are the important people in your life? Have they influenced your writing?

The first people who come to mind are my mother and father. Both of them wrote. My father not as much as my mother, but one of his stories was printed in an Air Force magazine. He was always inventing things. Nothing ever got patented, but the device he created to open canned cream was great. Mom had stories printed in her Women’s Club writing group’s annual booklet. She also self-published a public speaking booklet and two devotional books:  Prayers and Inspirations for Parents of Teenagers and Prayers and Inspirations for Senior Citizens.

Of course, none of this writing business would have been possible without the support of my dear husband, affectionately referred to as DH.

 What’s your favorite dessert?

I have a good friend who makes a dynamite chocolate sheet cake with pecans on top that is truly to die for. It’s just the best. Now, I also like apple pie, but eons ago, I had a friend who made it from scratch. Perfect seasoning, flaky crust, just amazing. But if it doesn’t taste like that, I don’t want it. Since I can’t be sure, I seldom order it. A little weird? Yeah, probably. So now, I’m happy to stick with Julie’s chocolate cake. J

What prompted you to write Vermont Escape? Did you want to say something specific?

The idea is based on a time in my life when the kids were in elementary  and middle school. The whole family had gone on a lovely vacation to Red River, New Mexico. Up in the mountains. Gorgeous views. Moderate temperatures. Great shopping. Fishing for my husband. Can you say paradise? I’m from Texas where in August it can easily be 109 cooling only to the 80s or 90 at night. Stressful stuff awaited us back home, and I didn’t want to leave the lovely mountain top retreat. We half-joked that we could buy one of the little stores for sale, and my husband could practice law. We’d just not return.

Well, only in fiction, do you really get to escape, and we returned to Texas. Ultimately, life settled back into that level of stress we can all manage to handle. But that feeling of really wanting to leave everything (not my family) behind stuck with me and was the basis for VERMONT ESCAPE. When I first started writing the book, it began with Jill Barlow leaving her home in Fort Worth after a bunch of bad stuff happened. Various re-writes cut those scenes from the book, but the feeling of escape still drives her. Pretty much, I’m always trying to show that second chances are possible. It doesn’t matter how old you are, love is out there to be found. That more important than anything is family. All of my books have a generational aspect.

What is your writing process? How do you develop your stories?

I’m a plotter, so before I try to write the story, there are a number of things I have to have in place first.

1)      I need a location. I know most people start with the characters, but I start with the location. Where do the people live and work?

2)      Then I ask myself who lives in that house? Why are they there? What do they do in town? At that point I drag out all my charts and start developing the characters. Not just what they look like, though I’ve frequently got pictures of people who represent the characters as I see them in my mind. What were their growing up years like? Who are their friends, mentors, supporters? I do charts for all but the very smallest of roles.

3)      Then I ask what do they want and why can’t they have it? That leads right into the Goal, Motivation, and Conflict chart. (Judges of the first book I entered in contests, said I should really study GMC. LOL I didn’t know what they were talking about. That book remains under my bed serving as a holder for dust bunnies. LOL)

4)      Next chart is one for internal and external conflict and it’s from this that the action pieces happen.

5)      Then I put together a tag line and a short paragraph about what’s going to happen.

6)      Then it’s time to write. I let myself write some of the backstory. I know it will go away and only pieces of it will get layered into the story, but I have to write 2-3 chapters of this. It’s kind of how I get into my characters’ minds.

7)      Then I write full speed. Every morning, I read over the last chapter or last pages I wrote to get back into the groove. I’ll edit as I go—typos, grammar stuff that jumps out. Then I write as long as I can without editing. I keep a small stuffed puppy (Scruffy) on my computer to remind me to let the creative juices flow. My internal editor can be a real pill to deal with. Scruffy helps me keep up and creative.  I move the puppy, re-read, edit a bit. Then Scruffy comes back out and away we go. (If I’m editing another manuscript while I’m also creating, I’ll take a day and edit with the pup gone. Then stop and with the pup in place, write for a few days.

8)      If I get stumped, I reference my charts to see who are these people, what is it they want, what’s keeping them from getting it? What’s on the action chart? What’s next? Sometimes you just have to let the fingers go and see what comes up. If it’s on the paper, you can fix it.

9)      When I finish, I put the manuscript away, focus on another project. I usually don’t look at the finished book for 4-6 weeks. Then pull it back out and start major rewrites and edits. Those can take up to 3 months.

10)   This is what I’ve done in the past. It will be interesting to see if this is the same pattern now that I have a published book. There are many things that tug on an author after they’ve got one book published. We’ll have to see.

If you were a color (red, blue, green, etc.), what would you be?

No question, I’d be blue-green, otherwise known as turquoise, aqua, aquamarine, teal. I’ve always loved that color, even when I was a kid. Back in the day, I had my colors “done.” Turns out my eyes are a shade of aqua, and I always feel good when I wear the color.

What writers or books have influenced you?

When I first started reading romance again after a twenty-year hiatus, I picked up Linda Howard and Elizabeth Lowell. Loved the combination of mystery and romance. Boy was I surprised by how much the romance had changed. The door was no longer closed! I also read Carla Neggars. I loved her descriptions of New England. She writes romantic suspense about a couple of families and all their friends. The intertwining is amazing. Don’t know how she keeps up.  I also really love Kay Hooper’s books. She’s a bit more into the paranormal suspense area with less romance, but the romance is still there. If I were going to branch out from what I write that’s probably the direction I’d go. Oh, not with shape-shifters, but more involving the mind or spirits.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few people I’ve taken classes from who influenced my writing: Shannon Donnally, Lori Wilde, Linda Styles, and B. A Binns. The person who made the biggest impact and I believe led to me being published is Margie Lawson.

Coffee or tea?  Beer or wine? Sweet or tart? 

Hot coffee (or iced in the summer) first thing in the morning, but the rest of the day it’s iced tea. I get a loose tea from an Antique Mall tea room. I follow the directions exactly and enjoy the best apricot/mango tea right in my home. Wine for sure. I love the taste of beer (drink it poured over a glass of ice—I know kind of odd, but it’s the way I like it.) But wine is semi healthy for you, and I love the glasses. J Sweet wins hands down up against tart.

If your book is made into a TV movie, who do you want to play the hero?

John Corbet?? Maybe, but he needs a beard and longer hair. I’m so bad at this. Should’ve skipped. LOL

What’s your next project?

Just sent off book 5 to MuseItUp with fingers crossed they’ll want to publish it, too. So now I’m splitting my time between edits/rewrites of the 6th book. In Second Chances (the hero is a supporting character in VERMONT ESCAPE and demanded to be the hero. I had to speak firmly to him that he was not the hero of that book, and if he’d back off a bit, I’d give him his own book. That’s what Second Chances is.

But I’m very excited to have started looking at the 7th one. When I initially sat down to write # 6 (It went by the number for a year and a half! I’m dreadful with titles.), the plan was for it to be the first of four books. Four women who met as kids at summer camp and now are dealing with a multitude of issues in their own lives. They get together a couple of times a year. Two live in Fort Worth. One in Dallas and one in Wichita Falls. Not a series where you have all of the same people, and the end doesn’t come at the end. But it will be a series with several characters who overlap and show up in each of the books and each book is complete in itself.

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Vermont Escape 200x300

Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders, but can’t find proof. Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town of Woodstock.

The gambling syndicate, believing she has damning evidence against them, pursues her, shattering her dreams of peace. In an effort to protect her grown children, she doesn’t tell them violence continues to stalk the family.

Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, will Jill be required to make more sacrifices, even the hope of a second chance at love?

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EXCERPT :

Jill Barlow reached for her make-up kit and brushed against the one thing she’d been doing her damnedest to avoid. Her heart rate tripped into overtime.

The package she received days after her dad was murdered. One month ago, but she couldn’t face opening a reminder of the nightmare.

Pictures of her vigorous father mixed with recent images of his closed casket. Nausea hit. Again. Damn. Why would someone blow off her father’s head? She didn’t stay to find out. She ran.

She’d pushed herself on a four-day trip from Texas to Vermont. Emotionally and physically exhausted, all she wanted to do was unpack her pajamas and climb into bed. Habit required she clean and moisturize her face. Habit provided comfort when life was chaotic. Habit could get her through the worst. Or not.

In the Woodstock Inn suite, her hand trembled when she removed the package and dropped it onto the bed where it lay on the white coverlet like a scorpion.

Hands propped on her knees, she leaned over, drew in needed oxygen. A minute passed, and then she straightened.

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VERMONT ESCAPE is available at:

MuseItUp  http://goo.gl/nJtaa                 B & N http://goo.gl/1lR6D                      Amazon http://goo.gl/qhzBm

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You can contact Marsha West at:

http://www.marsharwest.com/category/blog for Thoughts on Thursday and Tuesday Author Chats

https://www.facebook.com/#!/marsha.r.west  @marsha.r.west

http://www.twitter.com/Marsharwest  @Marsharwest

Categories: fear, Mystery, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, writing | 19 Comments

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