Posts Tagged With: 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.

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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

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

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.

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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

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

Horses, Alternative Medicine and My New Book

Portia at 29

Portia at 29

When I got my mare Portia over twenty years ago, alternative care for animals was in its infancy and generally frowned on by traditional veterinarians. While I had tried acupuncture for a chronic bursitis, I wasn’t really that open to alternative techniques. But trying to help my sweet mare cured me of that attitude and introduced me to a new way of looking at life. And inspired the heroine of my newest novel Forewarning.

Portia was a beautiful, grey Anglo-Arab with wonderful gaits, a very willing attitude and a delightful joy in life. While she could be silly, mostly she was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, after I’d had her for about six months, she developed unusual problems that the vets couldn’t figure out. First, she started having trouble going down hills. Then she began tripping over things if we rode at dusk. Finally she came up with a really dramatic symptom. She would stumble and fall to the ground. Now lots of horses stumble, but rarely do they go down. This was weird as well as dangerous. And I had the bruises to prove it.

We went through a variety of diagnoses. Navicular disease—but the x-rays and the lack of response to shoeing changes and medicines seemed to rule that out. Weak stifles—but injections and keeping her on hill didn’t change anything.

This went on for about a year and a half and I was ready to give up on her when a friend suggested trying chiropractic. I hadn’t heard of equine chiro before and resisted the idea for quite a while. Then I heard about a vet who did acupuncture and worked with a chiropractor, and I decided to give it a try. If a vet was supervising, maybe there was some worth to it.

The acupuncture to relax the muscles, followed by chiropractic treatment to correct the misalignments in Portia’s spine and sacrum, produced an amazing and immediate improvement. I was ecstatic! I would have my talented, fun horse back again.

The jubilation only lasted a couple of weeks, then Portia started having problems again. It turned out that the chiro put things right for a while, but didn’t correct whatever was causing her back to go out in the first place. While I continued to use chiropractic on all my horses, I now began a journey through just about every alternative modality that existed, in an effort to find a solution to Portia’s trouble.

Finally, I encountered a woman who was learning a new-to-the-USA technique called Manual Therapy. For the first time we got improvements that lasted. She was actually able get to the cause of some of Portia’s problems and many times fix them.

Jacquie’s main work is with people and she only occasionally works on horses. Both my husband and I have gone to her and benefitted greatly from her work. Through her I’ve met several other manual therapists, most of whom also work both with humans and animals. When I began writing fiction seriously a few years ago, I thought it would be interesting to have a protagonist who was a Manual Therapist. The story possibilities were many, and I might also introduce some readers to alternative techniques.

If you read Forewarning, I’d love to hear your reaction to the heroine, Kasey Martin, and the work she does.

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Here’s a small excerpt from when she is working on a horse.

Then she put both hands on the horse and just stood there. After a minute she shifted position and again stood without moving.

“What is she doing?” TJ asked Billy, who had come into the barn too.

Billy glanced at Kasey and gave a shrug. “She’s listening,” he replied.

“What do you mean, listening?” TJ turned to the younger man with a disbelieving frown.

“That’s what she calls it—listening to the body, to figure out what needs to be done. I’m no expert. I just know she does some pretty amazing things. Watch.”

So TJ did watch while Kasey finished her initial assessment and stepped back to make notes on her chart. Then with a determined expression, she placed one hand on the mare’s spine and another low on her left hip. She kept them there for almost ten minutes while talking softly to the horse and Ben. As far as TJ could see, she was doing nothing more than lightly touching the horse.

All of a sudden, Doll let out a big sigh and visibly relaxed, dropping her head low and almost closing her eyes. Kasey stepped away, and tension seemed to flow out of her as well. A few moments later, with a much calmer expression, she moved back to the horse. She continued to hold her hands in different spots for varying amounts of time, changing their position after Doll sighed or yawned. Obviously, something was happening, but TJ had no idea what.

At one point Doll swung her head around and touched her ribs, just behind her front legs. Kasey nodded. “I know,” she said, and kept on with what she was doing. A few minutes later Doll twisted around again and touched her side a couple more times. Kasey smiled and responded. “I’ll get to it. I know it hurts. I need to take care of this first.”

TJ widened his eyes in disbelief. The horse is telling her where it hurts? At that point, he almost left in disgust to go back to the house, but hesitated when he saw how seriously Ben and Billy were watching. Pushing down his skepticism, he decided to wait and see how her treatment played out.

A while later Kasey finally switched her attention to the area Doll had touched. The mare bobbed her head up and down a couple of times, then let it hang in total relaxation. After spending a good ten minutes working on the area, Kasey stepped back.

******

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Forewarning CoverYou can buy FOREWARNING on Amazon http://amazon.com/ dp/B00DP5VOHK/

Categories: alternative medicine, Books, dressage, energetic healing, healing, horse personalities, Horses, Romantic suspense, Trail riding, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Interviewing Myself

Forewarning CoverWelcome back.

Today I’m taking part in an Author round-robin blog, where I talk about various aspects of my writing process and my new book coming out next week. I was invited to the party by Marsha West, author of the soon-to-be-published VERMONT ESCAPE. You can visit her and learn about her fabulous new book at: http://www.marsharwest.com/vermont-escape/

Here goes:

What are you working on right now?

I’m getting ready to publish my next book, FOREWARNING. I have my cover, it’s been edited and gone through beta readers, and now I’m in the process of formatting it for the Kindle. I plan on releasing it July 1.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

It’s a cross-genre romantic suspense about an energetic healer who lives on a horse ranch. FOREWARNING is the first book of my Horses and Healing series. It tells the story of Kasey Edwards, an alternative healer, who rescues an injured man and gets drawn into an unexpected web of danger.

What experiences have influenced you?

I’ve had horses most of my life—started riding when I was three. Caring for, raising and training them has molded my approach to life. Animals ground you in a way that’s often lost in city living. They also led me into alternative approaches to medical care. When traditional veterinary methods couldn’t help one of my horses, complementary techniques did. So I’m a firm believer in both.

Why do you write what you do?

I like happy endings and I like mysteries that engage my mind, so romantic suspense is the perfect blend. My books tend more to suspense with romantic elements than traditional romance. In my Horses and Healing mysteries, of which FOREWARNING is the first, I also get to talk about complementary therapies.

How does your writing process work?

I’m a “puzzler.” I can’t just sit down and write, like a pantser, nor can I write to an outline, like a plotter. Usually, I come up with an initial idea, figure out where I’d like to story to go—the ending—then start fleshing out the characters, using character sheets and personality profiles. My characters may change while I’m writing, but I do need to know who they are to make them real. I’m always surprised and delighted by the serendipitous things that pop out as I go along. Maybe a comment by a character ends up setting up a later scene. Or I encounter someone or something that inspires an idea for my story.

What is the hardest part about writing?

Two things: turning off my internal editor and figuring out the turning points in the story. After I know my characters, I then have to figure out how to get them from point A to point B. By determining three or four turning points, I have an idea of where to go. But getting those points can really be a bear.

What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

Historical fiction—suspense, of course. There already are several excellent writers, such as Suzanne Adair, doing early American mysteries, but I’d still like to try my hand at it.

Who are the authors you most admire?

There are so many, it’s hard to single them out. Some who come to mind are Jayne Ann Krentz, Nora Roberts, Kay Hooper, Elizabeth Lowell, Cait London, Robin Carr, Suzanne Brockman, Linda Lael Miller and Allison Brennan.

Who are new authors to watch out for?

Marsha West—can’t wait for her VERMONT ESCAPE. Susan Schreyer, Polly Iyer, Jerrie Alexander, Donnell Bell, and Susan Boyer to name just a few. All romantic suspense writers.

What scares you?

What if no one likes my book? Not what if it doesn’t sell, but what if they don’t like it? I want it to be a success, of course. (And make lots of money. J) Even more important, I want readers to enjoy my stories and to come back for more.

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And now I’m going to introduce you to the next link in this Author’s Chain—Susan Scheyer, author of the Thea Campbell Mystery series. Her next book, SHOOTING TO KILL, is due out soon. If you like humorous mysteries featuring horses, be sure to visit her blog “Writing Horses” http://writinghorses.blogspot.com.

Categories: blog hops, Books, dressage, healing, Horses, Mystery, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Trail riding, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Weekend Snippets #2

Welcome again!

As part of the Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday groups, I’m posting very short excerpts from my writings.

Today’s snippet is a continuation of last week’s and is from the opening of my Western romantic suspense book, WYOMING ESCAPE. Hope you enjoy it.

She’d bWyoming Cover - 4x6 - #2een coming to these woods outside Providence for the past two years, and never having heard of any problem, felt safe enough to run alone in the quiet and solitude. Now some idiot had decided to play games with a gun?

No further shots disturbed the forest and the birds began to chirp. Mikela took a tentative step from her hiding spot. At the sound of heavy footsteps pounding toward her, she jumped back into the greenery.

A slim man in a leather jacket ran into view, headed toward the parking area. He looked somewhat familiar and her shoulders relaxed until she caught sight of his glazed, panicked expression.

And the black nine millimeter pistol in his hand.

For more information on WYOMING ESCAPE, click the Home link.

Be sure to check out more fabulous snippets on the  Weekend Writing Warriors website and also Snippet Sunday, on Facebook. Happy reading!

Categories: Books, Cowboys, Dude ranches, fear, Horses, Mystery, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized, Western romance, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Fear and How You See the World

© Forca | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Forca | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

A few posts ago I talked about Horses and Victims–about fear distorting how an animal or human deals with the world. Sometimes the reaction is a result of an over-sensitive individual having to put up with unaware or uncaring people, such as with my horse Glory. Sometimes it is a result of direct abuse. Recently I encountered an unexpected reaction which came from the latter source.

Last month I self-published a short story titled IMAGES – A LOVE STORY. Before I put it up I had several people critique and edit it. Everyone thought it was a sweet tale and seemed to enjoy it. Except for the last person who saw it. Her reaction totally astonished me.

My friend was extremely upset by the story. She thought the hero was manipulative, had ulterior motives and was not to be trusted. Going through it page by page, she pointed out all the suspect things he was doing. I was blown away by her interpretation of his actions. I would never have thought that about someone without a compelling reason. And frankly, she was amazed at the intensity of her reaction too. I’d really hit a hot button for her.

It seems she had been molested as a child and, even though she has been happily married for many years, that has skewed her view of men. Also, she has a daughter who has been in an abusive relationship, and she has worked with a battered women’s group. Talk about a different background from my nice, safe, sheltered life!  While I understood where her response was coming from, I didn’t think most people would feel the same and didn’t change my story.

But the incident pointed out again how differently people can react to the same stimulus. I’ve entered my stories in contests and received both perfect scores along with quite low scores in the same contest. Some people seem to really like my writing and others don’t. I’ve only gotten a few reviews for my novel, WYOMING ESCAPE, and mostly they’ve been quite good. But I did get one person who didn’t like the heroine at all–thought she was wimpy. Other people have admired her guts. As the saying goes, “different strokes for different folks.”

All writers go through the same thing and have similar stories. But it’s interesting to speculate on what provokes such opposing opinions. What happened in the reader’s life to cause this reaction? Hmm, fodder for a new tale?

Have youCover - Images - 2 encountered a really off-the-wall reaction to anything you’ve done? Were you able to discover the reason for the response?

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If you’d like to read IMAGES and compare your reaction to my friend’s, you can find it for Free on Smashwords.

You can also find WYOMING ESCAPE on most online bookstores.

Categories: abuse, battered women, Books, fear, horse personalities, Horses, romance, Uncategorized, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Horses and Victims

Glory #2Lacy cowered in the closet, her arms wrapped tight around her legs and listened to the footsteps coming closer and closer. The door swung open and she tried to scream but she couldn’t make a sound as the knife descended.

We’ve all read and seen variations on this scene, a victim, usually a woman or child, too frightened to do anything to help themselves. You’ve probably felt that way a time or two in less dire situations. I know I have. Interestingly, people aren’t the only beings that react this way. Horses and other animals often do too.

Today I’m going to finish my series on horse personalities and how they connect with writing novels. Since it’s been a while, I’ll do a short recap. Horses can be generally classified as four personality types. The extrovert-thinker compares to the typical alpha hero—confident, outgoing and brave. The extrovert-reactor is similar to the smart-ass heroines—emotional, reacting before thinking and taking chances. The introvert-thinker is more like a stalker villain—quiet, careful and determined.

The fourth type is the introvert-reactor—horses who are easily overwhelmed by their emotions. My horse Glory is a typical example. An extremely sensitive Thoroughbred, intended for racing, she was apparently handled inappropriately for her personality and was too timid to fight back. Instead, she shut down and stopped reacting to anything at all. She was very well-trained and my instructor had recommended I get her as a school master for learning dressage. (For learning an intricate skill such as dressage it’s best to have a horse that already knows what to do and can teach you to do it right.)

She seemed very sweet and obviously knew her stuff, so I decided to take a chance on her. And she ended up teaching me much more than I ever expected. It soon became apparent that she was very different from any horse I had handled before. Not only was she so sensitive that she hated being brushed, she was unexpectedly uptight, but expressed it in an unusual way. While most horses act out in some way if they’re upset, she shut down and turned it inside. During one of our first rides, we weren’t communicating well and suddenly she got a nose-bleed. When this happened again in different situations, I realized this was a stress reaction.

The thing that I found oddest was how afraid she was of making a mistake. I was used to horses trying to do what I asked and if it wasn’t quite right, we’d just do it again. Not Glory. If she thought she’d made a mistake, she’d either get a nose-bleed or stop and start shaking, obviously expecting to be punished. This fear carried over to the trail. Another horse could spook big time at something unexpected and she wouldn’t move a muscle. It was eerie.

I almost gave up on her the first year, she wasn’t much fun. But gradually she started being less uptight and we began to communicate better. It took a lot of years for her to really trust that she’d found a safe place and it was okay to express opinions on things. Now she will boss around the other two horses and she doesn’t worry about miscues. Now she really is MY horse and I am her person.

I’m so glad that girls and young women are being taught to stand up for themselves nowadays. We’ll always need helpless victims for our stories, but hopefully they’ll be less common in real life.

Have you encountered a situation where you froze and were unable to react? Do you use helpless victims in your stories?

Categories: Books, dressage, horse personalities, Horses, suspense, Trail riding, training horses, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Wyoming Escape

My first book, Wyoming Escape, is now out on AmazonBarnes&Noble and Kobo. Apple iBooks and others coming soon.

One dead body is frightening enough, but a second one, plus a dirty cop, sends chef Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. The ultimate city girl finds a safe hiding place on a Wyoming Dude ranch, where she tries to discover if the murders are connected to the mysterious computer memory stick she found in her car. But her fragile feeling of safety is disturbed by a compelling Marine, home on leave.

Back from Afghanistan to heal both physically and emotionally, Shawn Saunders recognizes the type of fear in Mikela’s eyes—it’s one of the things he’s come home to forget. Even though he knows it’s a bad idea, he can’t stop himself from trying to help her, while she’s even more afraid of letting him. In spite of their reservations, neither can resist the pull of their attraction.

Categories: Cowboys, Dude ranches, Horses, Romantic suspense, Western romance | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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