romance

A Christmas Fling

Beth-Barany_360by270-cropped.

My guest today is Beth Barany, author of a brand new Christmas novella, A Christmas Fling. Based in Oakland, California, Beth writes magical tales of romance and adventure.  She’s also a writing coach, helping other writers realize their dreams.

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Kate, Thanks for having me on your blog to share about my new romance, A Christmas Fling, a sweet paranormal romance novella. It’s the tale of a Santa’s Elf, a hard-working financial analyst, and a Bernese Mountain Dog named Sally.

Dahlia, a Santa’s Elf, has 21 days left before Christmas to create the best toy in the world without using magic or revealing her true identity. Stuck on how to complete the prototype, and working as a temp in San Francisco’s Financial district with no time for love, will her innocent Christmas fling get her unstuck, or will she turn her back on her beloved career for her heart?

 Liam, an up-and-coming financial analyst, swore off women after getting dumped by the love of his life. He just found out his ex is going to the company Christmas party with his rival Michael Hendricks. Up for promotion against Hendricks, Liam has to win the favor of his boss. His best bet is to invite the vivacious secretary Dahlia to the party. Will Dahlia be a welcome distraction, or will she turn his life upside down?

Bernese Mountain Dog by Lori Branham--CreativeCommonsLicense2.0When I was creating my story, I knew I wanted to include a dog and specifically a Bernese Mountain dog. I see these dogs all the time in my Oakland neighborhood. They look so friendly and huggable I thought one would be perfect in my story of workaholic man learning how to have love in his life.

Liam has to take care of Sally for his roommate Josh, who is away at a conference. When Dahlia pets Sally, Liam is surprised to realize he wants Dahlia’s affection, even though he’s sworn off love.

Kitty-black_Leo-Tabby-cropCurrently I don’t own a dog. I just have two lovely and rambunctious cats. I did grow up with dogs and cats and a pet rat, and I even had a Hermit crab for a short time. I think pets bring joy and love into our lives. I’ve seen pets diffuse a difficult situation and also bring laughter where there wasn’t any. When I was going through a rough patch in my life, we brought Kitty into our lives. She gave me something to care about other than myself. A few years later, we adopted a rescue cat, Leo, as a companion for Kitty. It’s so much fun to watch them play together and learn from each other.

Readers, Enjoy A Christmas Fling. Here’s an excerpt! Thanks for stopping by!

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EXCERPT

December 1, Oakland, CA

 A CHRISTMAS FLING by Beth Barany-400x600Dahlia strolled through the small neighborhood park. It was great fun to think about how the children would enjoy her toy once she was done with it, but she had to complete it first. She only had twenty-two days to fix whatever was wrong with it before returning home. She’d gone over her designs and schematics and taken it apart and put it back together a dozen times, but it still wouldn’t work.

Dahlia left the park and headed down the street toward the detached studio she rented on Miles Avenue.

A dog bark had her look up just in time to almost but not quite avoid getting tangled up in a long leash. A man with the warmest brown eyes she’d ever seen gazed down at her, a half smile on his face.

She smiled back startled out of her daydreaming, but not before she noticed his endearing dimple on one side of his mouth.

She said, “Sorry, I didn’t see you. Thank goodness for your dog. Oh, she looks like a Husky.”

Dahlia shifted her bag to one hip, so she could bend down and pet the dog.

The dog wagged her tail.

Dahlia said, “You must feed her really well. Her coat is so soft and luscious.”

“She’s a Bernese Mountain Dog. Sally. My roommate’s.”

His voice was deep. She had to look up to smile into his deep brown eyes. He was a whole head taller than she was. Almost two meters. She translated into American measurements. Six foot three or something.

“My uncle, well one of my uncles has one—that he uses for work. But I hardly see him because he lives—” She paused. “I’m prattling, aren’t I?”

“Yes, you are, but I like listening to your accent. Scottish?”

“Yes, wow, you guessed correctly. Most people here can’t do that. Yeah, we’re from Scotland, but it’s been a few generations.” She couldn’t very well tell him how Santa’s elves lived a very long time. It had only been her grandparents that had immigrated with Uncle, known as Santa to most, and some neighbors to set up the North Pole.

“So, you’re in school here?” He waved off toward what she knew was the art college a few blocks away.

“No. I’m here on an independent research project for a few more weeks.”

“So you’re from—”

“Alaska. Well, near Alaska, anyway. I—I best be going,” she interrupted and gestured to her bag of goodies. She shifted from foot to foot on the corner of Miles and Clifton Streets, still tangled up in the Bernese’s leash. “Gifts to wrap. For the kids. Big project.” She gulped and held out her hand. “I’m Dahlia, by the way. Dahlia MacMillian.”

With a half-smile, he shook her offered hand. His grip was firm and strong. “Liam. Nice to meet you, Dahlia MacMillian.” He led the dog around her, slowly untangling the leash.

How he moved with grace and power, even in his simple gestures. He was tall, lean and muscular, broad shoulders identifiable even in his sweatshirt with the UC Berkeley name and logo on it.

“There we go, Sally,” Liam said, his voice a rumbling, soothing cascade.

Sally licked Dahlia’s hand, bringing her out of her staring. She gulped and felt the heat of a blush creep up her neck and onto her cheeks. Dahlia stroked the soft fur to cover her embarrassment. It had been a long time since she’d felt attracted to anyone. Everyone she’d dated at the Pole was so familiar to her, and mostly related. She didn’t have time for a distraction.

She looked up when she heard Liam chuckling. He was shaking his head.

“What?” She couldn’t help but ask.

He shrugged. “I guess I should run into girls more often with my roommate’s dog. I didn’t realize it could be such a pleasant experience.”

“You must not walk her very often then.” Oh my, she was flirting. The Elf boys back home never brought that out of her. She felt her pale skin flush. Och, yes, this was a man, she thought. “Thank you, then. For the pleasant experience. And the untangling.”

“You’re welcome.” Liam said to her, smiling, that one dimple showing again. Then he spoke to the dog. “Come on Sally. Let’s finish your walk, so we can go watch the game.”

Dahlia waved good-bye and turned to go down the street and head for her apartment. But first she had to watch Liam walk away. He fit nicely into his jeans. For a moment, a pang of wistfulness washed through her. She shook her. She had other things to focus on, like completing her toy on time so she could get her Master Elf badge, and even win the Grand Prize.

She was sure she’d be able to make progress on her toy tonight. Maybe it was something about meeting a happy dog and tall brown-eyed man that made her feel hopeful. Yes, she would get her toy done in time.

******

About Beth Barany

In her off hours, Beth enjoys capoeira (a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music), traveling, and watching movies with her husband, bestselling author Ezra Barany, and playing with their two cats, Kitty and Leo.

Where to Find A Christmas Fling

A Christmas Fling on Amazon:http://amzn.to/18ELyiY

A Christmas Fling on Goodreads:http://bit.ly/1bytk64

Photo: A Bernese Mountain Dog by Lori Branham – Creative Commons License
Categories: Bernese Mountain dog, Books, Cats, Christmas, dogs, Dogs and cats, fantasy, Love, Paranormal, romance, Santa's elf, Santa's workshop, toys, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Jerrie Alexander

Jerrie Alexander.

Romantic suspense author, Jerrie Alexander, is my guest today and we’re going to switch it up a little. Instead of talking about animals, she’s going to answer some questions, both silly and serious, so we can get to know her better. And she’ll tell us who she’d like to play one of her heroes.

Before we get started I want to remind you of the two promotions I’m part of this month.

The Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt. http://tinyurl.com/n85tvtn

Indie Tribe Special Christmas Showcase. http://tinyurl.com/nxyqbxn

Now to get to our questions:

If you were an animal, what kind would you be? (Can’t stay entirely away from animals.)
Hmm, I wanted to say a dog, but only if I could pick my owner. We have a dog somebody threw away…literally. We found him in our back yard, too weak to lift his head. The vet said he’d been traveling and he’d been bitten by a much larger dog, which wouldn’t take much. Buddy weighs ten pounds. So maybe, I’d be a dolphin. They live as a family, seem to be happy, are playful, and protect each other. A bonus is that I love the ocean.

Who are the important people in your life? Have they influenced your writing?
Without a doubt, my family. We’re a tiny group as neither my husband or I came from large families, but we love each other!
They do influence my writing. My husband has always told me I could do or be anything I wanted. Who could go wrong with that kind of support? One of the last John Wayne type of character, a little of him is in every hero I write. Our daughter critiques my work. She’s invaluable.

What’s your favorite dessert?
Can you say sugar? 🙂 If it is sweet, I’m there. To pick one is like asking which one of my books is my favorite. If I have to choose, Tarimisu. Love it!

What books would you take with you to a desert island?
Other than, “How to Survive on a Desert Island?” Anything written by Linda Howard. I’d throw in a few Elizabeth Hoyt historical romances (she’s my go to when I need a break from romantic suspense.)

What prompted you to write your book? Did you want to say something specific?
I’ve always loved to write. Many, many moons ago, I thought I wanted to be a reporter and studied journalism. My desire to embellish quickly changed to fiction.

Specific? Maybe that women are strong, resilient creatures. My heroines, in spite of bad things happening to her or her loved ones, play a vital role in solving the problems.

What’s your favorite room in your house?
Our living room. There’s nothing special about it to describe. Couch, chairs, fireplace, and big screen TV. But at the end of the day, it’s where we put our feet up and relax together. It’s where we talk to each other.

What is your writing process? (How do you develop your stories?)
I’m a solid panster. I do a profile on each character. I have to  understand each personality, then I decide what the base issue is and to whom. But the story unfolds as I write. Sometimes it generates a lot of rewriting, but as hard as I’ve tried, plotting doesn’t work for me.

If you were a color (red, blue, green, etc.), what would you be?
Red! It’s always been my favorite color. To tell the truth, I have no idea why, but if there’s something on the rack that’s red, it calls to me. 🙂

Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t think so. No ritual or lucky yoga pants. My friends and family would tell you differently. I agonize over the beginning of a new book. Searching for something new and fresh, I worry that I’ll never come up with a unique story line. So I’ll pour over FBI profile books and news stories until I find a scenario that I can make mine. I don’t guess that’s a habit…more of a quirk.

Coffee or tea? Beer or wine? Sweet or tart?
Coffee in the morning. Hot green tea during the day.
Most of the time it’s neither. I can drink one glass of wine. Drink two and the next morning, I’ll have a hangover. Hate that feeling!
Sweet! Blue Bell ice cream in particular.

If your book is made into a TV movie, who do you want to play the hero?bailey chase 1
Along with the character profile, I find a picture for each one. In my first book, The Green-Eyed Doll, Bailey Chase would be perfect. He plays Branch, the deputy on Longmire.

What’s your next project?
No Chance in Hell, book three in the Lost and Found, Inc series. It’s Marcus Ricci’s story and I’ve completed eight chapters so there’s a lot more to be done. Marcus carries a big guilt and hasn’t been happy for a long time. He’ll get there, but I make him earn it. 🙂

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Jerrie’s latest book is Cold Day in Hell, book two in her Lost and Found, Inc series.

Cold-Day-In-HellEbook200x300Ex-Army Ranger Tyrell Castillo’s first mission for Lost and Found, Inc. goes awry when his contact is kidnapped, and he’s left scrambling for weapons and explosives. He’ll have to blow up a drug cartel’s compound, rescue the woman, and keep her safe while they cross the sweltering hot Colombian jungle.

Driven by the need for revenge, Ana Maria Vega Cisneros doesn’t want to be rescued. She wants revenge. She’ll risk her life to ensure the drug lord who killed her family suffers the same fate.

The cartel leaves a trail of blood on their hunt for Ty and Ana. When Ty receives the order to kill the drug lord with extreme prejudice, he and Ana will face the enemy head on. Can Ty protect the woman who’s hell bent on vengeance? The woman he’s grown to love?

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Excerpt:

Ana Cisneros stood close to the window. Craning her neck to see outside, she was unaware he’d entered the room. With no time for introduction, he reached around and clamped his hand over her mouth.

As expected, he’d startled her. She fought, slinging her body back and forth like a wet dog. She kicked at him, so he whirled her around and jerked her body snug against his.

“Quit struggling. I’m here to help you,” he whispered, trying to sound reassuring. No doubt, with the flames outside casting an eerie glow, he looked like an alien. A man wearing night-vision goggles, geared up with a pistol on his hip and another in a holster strapped to his thigh, and a rifle over his shoulder would scare most anybody. Not to mention the machete sheathed on his back and the SOG knife in his hand. “Do you understand?”

He took the slight movement of her head as a yes and relaxed the pressure off her lips. His reward? She bit his finger and pummeled his ribs with her free fist.

What the hell? The lamb had attacked the lion. He reapplied the pressure while keeping one eye on the door.

“Stop that,” he commanded, impressed at her bravado.

Even through the lens on the night-vision goggles, he spotted a bruise on her cheek. Heat sizzled up his spine at the bastard who’d hit her.

He’d expected fear or panic to be oozing from her every pore, but didn’t sense either emotion from her. Waves of anger rolled off her.

He didn’t have time to reason with her. And from what he’d seen so far, sweet-talking her was out. “I’m going to remove my hand. If you fight me, I’ll tie and gag you. Got it?”

This time he got a full nod. The expression behind her eyes made him doubt her honesty.

“I don’t have time to argue, so you’ll have to trust that I’m the contact you were supposed to meet in Bogota.” Cautiously, he lifted two fingers from her lips and waited to see if she complied.

“I know who you are,” she hissed. “And you’ve ruined everything.”

“Me? I think you’ve cornered the market on screw-ups.” He quickly assessed her condition. Other than the bruise, she appeared to be unharmed. Long dark hair fell around her shoulders. She wore jeans and a T-shirt.

Damn, she was a little thing. Beautiful, bruised, and pissed. Protecting her as they crossed the sweltering jungle wasn’t going to be easy. This woman was going to make the next few days a living hell.

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Buy Links:
Amazon:  http://goo.gl/nXU8QV   Available in print or Ebook
Barnes & Noble:  http://goo.gl/zTOA2i    Available in print

Contact Jerrie at:
Webpage – http://www.jerriealexander.com
Blog – http://www.jerriealexander.com/category/blog/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jerrie-Alexander /121521571355959?ref=hl
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/jerriealexander
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/jerriealexander
Google+  – https://plus.google.com/u/0/
Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/jerriealexander/

Categories: Books, Cowboys and Lawmen, lawmen, Mystery, outdoors, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

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

The Evolving Mermaid

Joanne Guidoccio is my guest today and she will be talking about mermaids, since a mermaid is the heroine of her debut novel, Between Land and Sea.

Guidoccio 001In high school, Joanne dabbled in poetry, but decided to wait until she had more life experiences before writing a novel. The original plan was to get a general arts degree and take a few years off to travel and write. Instead, she gave in to her practical Italian side and obtained degrees in mathematics and education.

While she experienced many satisfying moments during her teaching career, she never found the time and energy to write. In 2008, she took advantage of early retirement. Slowly, a writing practice emerged and her articles and book reviews started appearing in newspapers, magazines and online.

Her debut novel, Between Land and Sea, a paranormal romance about a middle-aged mermaid, has just been released by Soul Mate Publishing.

THE EVOLVING MERMAID

When I announced the release of Between Land and Sea, a novel about an overweight, middle-aged mermaid, I was surprised by the subsequent comments.

The typical male response was a Duchenne smile followed by a puzzled expression and several pointed questions…

Why is she so old?

 Just how overweight is she?

 What happened to her?

The men had preconceived notions of what a mermaid should look like—wavy auburn tresses, mesmerizing green eyes and a curvaceous twenty something body.

The women, on the other hand, were intrigued by a mermaid who did not fit the stereotype and wanted to hear more about her reinvention story.

When it comes to mermaids, there can be no real consensus on their appearance. After all, they are only fictional characters subject to the whims of different cultures and time periods.

According to Greek mythology, Sirens were originally thought to be deities who had fallen from their position among the Greek gods. There is some discrepancy regarding the number of Sirens who lived off the coast of Greece (or possibly Italy). Anywhere from two to five Sirens lived on this island and lured men to their deaths with their bewitching songs. Descriptions of the Sirens varied; in some of the older myths, they had the head of woman and the body of a bird.

In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus had himself tied to the mast and ordered his men to stuff balls of wax into their ears while approaching the Sirens’ island. Only by taking these drastic measures could Odysseus ensure that no one jumped off, swam to shore, or endangered the lives of the crew. The songs of the Sirens were so hypnotic that sailors would become distracted and often steered the ship into dangerous waters or onto jagged rocks.

Among seafaring people, there are several historical claims of actual mermaid sightings. In 1610, Captain Richard Whitbourne claimed he saw a mermaid in Newfoundland’s St. James harbor. A young boy in Scotland (circa 1820) is believed to have killed a mermaid by throwing rocks at it. Unlike the beautiful Sirens in the Greek myths, the dead mermaid resembled a three-year-old child, but had a salmon’s tail instead of legs. The villagers had a funeral for the mermaid and buried it in a small coffin.

Hans Christien Anderson immortalized a kinder, gentler mermaid in The Little Mermaid. While it was my favorite fairy tale, I felt so sorry for the mute ex-mermaid who could only smile when the handsome prince married someone else. Knowing that the prince’s wedding morning would only bring heartbreak and seal her fate as “foam on the crest of waves” always saddened me.

I wanted a happily-ever-after ending for the little mermaid and the prince. But when the Disney version was released, I still wasn’t satisfied. I realize now that I wanted to read about a different kind of mermaid, one who could enjoy a happy and successful life, with or without the prince. And maybe one who wasn’t quite so young or so beautiful.

Keeping this vision of an older and wiser mermaid firmly in mind, I wrote Between Land and Sea, the first book in the Mediterranean trilogy.

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 betweenlandandseacoverAfter giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged beyond recognition. The horrified banker abandons her on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England, leaving her to face a difficult human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.

With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, Isabella evolves into the persona of Barbara Davies. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers.

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*****

EXCERPT

Isabella stumbled as she got out of bed and tried to balance herself on the stumps that now served as permanent legs. She willed herself not to cry as she recalled the magnificent tail that had been the envy of the Mediterranean kingdom. Her mother and grandmother had also been blessed with the same tail. Now only Annabella held this birthright.

She heard her stomach growl and thought longingly of her favorite kelp dish. She closed her eyes and visualized the steaming goodness that would satisfy her hunger. And then she remembered that she could no longer manifest her desires.

No more powers. No more comfort and ease.

Her lips trembled as she looked about the small, neat room filled with large wooden pieces and smaller metallic ones. She tried to move one of the larger pieces and then gave up in frustration. Andrew had promised her a beautiful home with servants, and now she must live this life of ordinary humans.

The flickering of a green light caught her attention. She approached and noticed the tablet lying on one of the wooden surfaces. It was blinking at her. Tentatively, she touched the green light. The blinking stopped and a smiling face materialized.

“Greetings, Isabella. I am Lisa738. Annabella has asked me to guide you through your orientation.”

Isabella frowned and tried to recall her connection to this lowly mermaid from the Numbers class.

*****

Where to find Joanne…

Website: www.joanneguidoccio.com

Amazon: http://is.gd/AVpoVs 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joanneguidoccio

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BetweenLandandSeaJG

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jguidoccio/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7277706.Joanne_Guidoccio

YouTube (Trailer #1): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xipZ6quZDOs

YouTube (Trailer #2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfiKOQe_yuU

Categories: fantasy, mermaids, nature, outdoors, romance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Life With Other Friends

06 2012 VBauthor photoJoining us today is Vicki Batman, author of the recently released SAN DIEGO OR BUST!
Is her Mr. Right the RIGHT Mr. Right?

Like some of her characters, our award-winning author has worked a wide variety of jobs including lifeguard, ride attendant at an amusement park; a hardware store, department store, book store, antique store clerk; administrative assistant in an international real estate firm; and a general “do anything gal” at a financial services firm–the list is endless.

Today she talks about the animals in her life.

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I’ll say this up front: I am a cat person.

I grew up with them. I love how they feel, their soft meows, their whiskers on my face, how they curl in my lap or by my leg or lay on my chest.

I’ve been lucky to have so many great ones in my life: Smokey-a huge gray fella born between our fence and the neighbor’s. Mischief-a big brown tabby who died very tragically. Snuffer-a large hairy gray guy who bumped heads so hard, you could hear bones crunch. Romper-a small, short hair gray tabby who adored Handsome. And Scooter aka Scootsie aka Scoo-sister to Romper and who adores my #2 son, but during the day, she sleeps in my office on a throw I bought in Cancun.

I love cats.

Then Handsome started circling ads for dogs. He began talking more and more about dogs. Everything became about dogs. And one day, I busted him for he had gone somewhere and met a woman who had the kind of dogs he was interested in- Malti-poos.

I have a hard time denying Handsome things after his bout with cancer. Two small dogs I could handle. I knew what to expect. But I did lay down the ground rules: training. Training. And—you guessed it—more training.

And here’s what he brought home:

champ and jones

Champ is the small white guy who looks like a little lambikin when his hair grows. He loves to play catch with his flat cat aka Squeaky.

Jones is the larger gray one, a big baby. He loves to run. And we don’t have any squirrels thanks to him.

They are smart, cute, loveable, and don’t shed. The ideal pooches.

Sometimes, I write about cats and doggies in my books and sometimes, they are named after my pals. In my story, “San Diego or Bust,” I didn’t have any. Instead, I wrote the trip from hell, the wrong Mr. Right, and exploding suitcase, and an obnoxious passenger.  Here’s an excerpt:

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SANDIEGOorBUST333x500

My boyfriend is a dirt wad. I just decided.

With a humpf, I dragged my pink tote up the narrow aisle to the plane’s exit, accidentally banging it into the seats along the way. The relieving notion of being back home in Sommerville caused the tension in my chest to fade a smidgen.

A quick peek to the exit told me where Davis, my boyfriend, stood waiting for the okay from the ground crew to head out. His glance my way didn’t look at all pleasant. Similar to one wrapped in disappointment with a downward tilt of his mouth.

I didn’t care much. I just decided.

The words creep, jerk, moron, and “why in the hell am I still dating him??” jumbled my thoughts around. My heart pounded as anxiety ratcheted inside me again.

Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should not put up with him anymore.

The deepest part of me knew I shouldn’t be with Davis Griffith Swansea, III, any longer. I was just in denial. Over the past year, I’d had brief, momentary twinges of dumping him; then, he’d go and do something incredibly romantic like bring me Godiva chocolates—“I know how you love these.” Or buy me a new book by my favorite author—“I happened to see this today.” Or whisk me off to an intimate dinner à deux at the latest and greatest bistro–“I know you’ll like this place.”

My head had gone stupid.

*****************

Find “San Diego or Bust” at:

MuseItUp Publishing – http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/

Find Vicki at:

Website:  http://vickibatman.blogspot.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vicki-Batman-sassy-writer-of-sexy-and-funny-fiction/133506590074451?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VickiBatman

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/vickibatman

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4814608.Vicki_Batman

Plotting Princesses: http://plottingprincesses.blogspot.com

Find “San Diego or Bust” at:

MuseItUp Publishing – http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/

Categories: Dogs and cats, romance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 18 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.

***

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

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.

***

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

Free Book Spotlight

Today I’m spotlighting Time Will Tell by Sandy Lloyd. This is the first book in her Timeless Series and is set on a Kentucky Thoroughbred farm. If you like horses and think time travel is intriguing, come take a look.

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TIME WILL TELL is free on Amazon September 16 through September 20.
Link – http://amzn.to/10zmPM0

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TIME WILL TELL - Front Cover (for Kobo and Book Interior)

Libby Edwards, a gifted horsewoman, unwittingly wishes herself back in time to Louisville, Kentucky just before Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby become a reality. During Libby’s journey in the past, she stumbles upon her destiny. Unfortunately, he’s in the wrong century. In 1874, there’s no electricity, no internet, no modern medicine, no antibiotics—no Starbucks! And even worse than that, women have no rights. Libby has no desire to stay.

Widower, Colin Thorpe, a renaissance man of his time, has big dreams. He is a horse breeder who names his thoroughbreds after Mythological Gods because he has a reverence for past cultures and an appreciation for the unexplainable.

Libby and Colin can’t resist falling in love with each other. After all, Colin accepts Libby for who she is and she understands Colin’s dreams better than his deceased wife ever did. Yet he grasps early on that Libby doesn’t belong in 1874. And because his wife never adapted to the move from Virginia to Kentucky, becoming bitter and unhappy in the process, he won’t take the chance of the same thing happening to Libby. Can these two lovers find a way to be together despite their challenges?

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TIME WILL TELL is free on Amazon September 16 through September 20.
Link – http://amzn.to/10zmPM0

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Here’s an excerpt.

Libby heard the laughter again. That’s when she noticed the heat—not terribly hot—but warmer than minutes earlier. She looked up into the green tree, now fully leafed. Through a narrowed gaze, she spotted a boy about ten years old, dressed in what looked to be homespun clothes. He

hung on to a tree limb while standing on the branch below.

“Hello.” Her voice held none of the apprehension coursing through her. She forced herself to remain calm.

“How’d you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Appear from nothing. Are you magic?”

“No. I’m Libby. What’s your name?” she replied, hoping to distract him from asking more about her appearing from nothing, because she had no ready answer. She glanced around, still trying to figure it all out.

“Nathan.”

“Nathan? That’s a nice name.” Libby placed a hand over her eyes to shade them. “Hey, Nathan? What’s the date?”

“Are you daft?” Everything about his look said he thought so. “How come you don’t know?”

She laughed and shrugged. “I must be daft because I don’t know. It’s also why I’m asking.”

He contemplated her reply before nodding. “It’s June nineteenth.”

“And,” she prompted.

“Huh?”

“What year?”

He stared at her as if she were a Rubik’s cube. Finally he smiled. “Eighteen seventy-four.”

Libby blinked. “Eighteen seventy-four? Are you sure?”

When he nodded, his look now indicating he thought she’d lost more than just her marbles, she fought to keep the panic out of her voice. “Where do you live, Nathan?”

He pointed toward the main house. Without the treelined drive, the roof was barely visible from where Libby stood. “We live in the caretaker’s house. Behind the big house. My ma is Mr. Thorpe’s housekeeper and my pa runs his stables.”

“Stables?” Libby looked to where the boy pointed.

Nathan nodded. “Mr. Thorpe breeds horses.”

With her eyes on the landscape, reality hit her. Thorpe? The same name of the man who owned this land in her own time—Sam Thorpe. Of course. That made sense, but what in the world should she do now? Libby kept her shaded eyes on Nathan as her mind churned.

The trees. It had to be the trees, especially since she’d made a wish under them. Only, being in 1874 wasn’t exactly the answer she’d expected.

Thoughts of Dave, Bev, and her dad, along with Sam, Doug, and her new job went through her mind, as did the memory of riding Thorpe’s Pride the day before. As much as the idea of seeing the past intrigued her, she had no desire to be here. Apparently her wish had something to do with it, and she just had to figure out what. If the oaks truly had some kind of power to make wishes come true, then they had to be her ticket home. Or maybe all she had to do was wish herself home. She closed her eyes and wished. “Please take me home!” Libby chanted the words over and over.

“Whatcha doin’?”

Nathan’s voice slipped into her thoughts and was a clear indication that wishing wasn’t working.

“I’m thinking out loud.” Maybe she needed to do something while she was here. Or learn something. Yeah, that seemed like a decent explanation. Maybe discovering something in the past would help her deal with Dave so that her wish could come true. Or maybe she was just plumb crazy. Either way, it didn’t matter.

Blend in and stay by these trees. That’s what she needed to do.

Libby looked down at her clothing and an indelicate snort popped out. Yeah, right. I’ll blend in. The same way pepper blends with salt. She was pretty sure women didn’t run around in the late nineteenth century in jeans and short hair.

She sighed. Considering her gender and the time period, one where men ruled, blending in might be a bit of a problem.

So, what could she do? Pretend to be a boy?

“That’s it,” she said out loud, laughing because it made perfect sense. With her size, everyone would think she was a young male teenager. It shouldn’t be too hard to pull off. Without makeup, Libby knew she was pretty plain. “Not real original, but so what?” It always worked in all those novels she’d read.

“What’d you say?”

“Nothing.” Libby craned her neck and grinned at the boy now situated on the branch with his legs swinging freely. “Nathan, do you think your dad—er, pa—could use some help with the horses?” She needed this kid. He was her lifeline to survival. “I’m looking for work and I’m a pretty good handler.” She slipped off her engagement ring and stuck it in her pocket. Boys didn’t wear diamond rings in 1874.

“I dunno.” Nathan shrugged. “I wanna help him, but he ain’t got time.” Then his voice became suspicious and his eyes narrowed. “Hey, where’d you come from? How come you just appeared outta nowhere?”

Libby smiled. Smart little guy. Hopefully he’d be an ally. Taking a chance, she confessed. “I came from the future. See these trees?” He nodded, his expression solemn. “Well, I think they brought me here. Only I don’t know why. I’m hoping you’ll help me.”

“Sure.” Nathan’s legs started swinging faster. “I’ll help ya if’n you’ll be my frien’. I ain’t got any since Tobby left to work on the docks in Lou’ville. I get to see him when we go to town. But that ain’t very often. ’Course, he was older’n me. But we’re still friends. Now all I have to play with’re prissy girls.” He hesitated a heartbeat. “So how ’bout it? You wanna be my frien’?”

“I’d love to be your friend, but you’ll have to keep my secret. You can’t say anything to anyone about me appearing out of nowhere, especially adults. They’ll think we’re crazy. OK?”

“Sure.” Nathan beamed and scooted over on the branch. “Wanna join me?”

“OK.” Libby lifted herself up into the tree and climbed. In moments, she sat with her legs swinging back and forth, imitating Nathan.

“Great.” The boy grabbed a branch to pull himself up and stood. “I’m glad you’re not some prissy girl.”

She stilled the impulse to smile. “I take it you don’t like prissy girls?”

He shook his head.

“How come?” Libby would have to make sure he didn’t discover her true gender.

“They’re bossy an’ think they know everythin’. Take Clara May Johnson.” Nathan rolled his eyes. “She’s as prissy as they come. Always bossin’ me aroun’, tellin’ me what to do. She thinks she’s so smart. She’s my sister’s best friend.” He stopped to take a deep breath. “My sister Sarah’s not so bad—only when she’s aroun’ Clara May. An’ I have a new baby brother. He’s only two though. It’ll be awhile before he can climb trees like us.” His words died and he remained quiet for a drawn-out moment, eyeing her thoughtfully. “So where in th’ future are ya from?”

“Same place, only a hundred and thirty-eight years from now,” Libby answered honestly, propping her chin on her hand and looking out over the landscape. From her position she could see for miles and the view didn’t look much different than it did in the future, except for the missing buildings. Twin Oaks, the horse farm in her time, had more stables along with another bunkhouse. Also missing were the cabins. “I’m pretty sure the trees brought me through time.”

“Really?”

She nodded.

Nathan’s eyes grew rounder. “They’re magical, just like you. I can tell.”

Libby offered a conspiratorial wink. “Remember, no one can know.” Hopefully, returning home would be as simple as wishing herself there. It had to work. Of course, it might take some time to figure out the correlation between her being here and her wish. In the meantime, it would be fun to have a look around and experience life in the past. At least for a day or so.

*******************************************************

If you’d like to read more about Libby and Nathan and 1874 Kentucky, Time Will Tell is free on Amazon
September 16 through September 20
http://amzn.to/10zmPM0

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Sandy authorpicfABOUT SANDY:

Sandy Loyd is a Western girl through and through. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, she’s worked and lived in some fabulous places in the US, including San Francisco and West Palm Beach. She now resides in Kentucky and writes full time. As much as she loves her current hometown, she misses the mountains and has to go back to her roots to get her mountain and skiing fix at least once a year. Otherwise her muse suffers.

She has published eleven books – four contemporary romances, four romantic mystery/suspense /thrillers, a time travel contemporary/historical romance and two historical romances that are sequels. She strives to come up with fun characters – people you would love to call friends.

Time Will Tell is the first book in her Timeless series.

Categories: Books, Horses, Kentucky, Love, Paranormal, Racing, riding, romance, Romantic suspense, Thoroughbreds, Time travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 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

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

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