Author Speed Dating – Sylvia Hubbard

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Sylvia Hubbard

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Are there any traditional Thanksgiving dishes that you can easily resist or dishes you refuse to even sample during your family’s holiday meal?

If there is the stuffing, I can’t resist. I’ll get a plate right by itself of stuffing, and then I even bring extra containers because I’m ghetto like that. (And proud of it.) What I won’t eat… chitterlings. Not in a infinity will those things ever touch my lips.

2. As a reader, name a few of your favorite books of all time. How have these books influenced your writing?

DESPERATION, by Stephen King; SECRET FIRE, by Johanna Lindsey; and BELLE AND THE BEAU, by Beverly Jenkins. My all out favorite is PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by the Godmother of Romance, Jane Austen.

 3.Which Scooby Doo character are you most like? Bonus: How are you at solving mysteries?

I’d be Fred, the leader of the group. I don’t think I’d be as cool, but I’d definitely be the leader and be able to put together all the clues. I’m pretty good at solving the crimes, but I don’t count myself as smart as Velma.

4. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which was the hardest and easiest to write?

I’m published in Romance Suspense. The sub-genres would be psychological, crime, drama, contemporary and erotic. The hardest is contemporary straight romance. I love the characters just falling in love, but then I get bored and always have a really saggy sappy middle. I’m so tempted to throw a murder or drama in there, but I fight it and finish the book.

5. If you could serve as a roadie for any band, past or present, for which group would be you be schlepping speakers and testing audio equipment?

Jill Scott. Omg, her music makes me want to write love scenes until the cows come home. And I know she’s not a band, but she’s really the only one I’d be a roadie for just so I could go to her concerts over and over again.

 6. If someone has never read one of your books, which title would you recommend she read first?

DARK FAÇADE. I seriously think that would definitely get you to understand how I make sin look good. And you’ll meet other characters that pop up in other books and really get an understanding you’re not in for a regular read.

 7. As a shoe shopper, are you all about the shoe warehouse where more is better, a discriminating shopper of only designer brands or a devotee of comfort with little concern for fashion?

I was raised by my father. He wasn’t much of a shopper for anything except when we went into the hardware store. We spent hours in there, but everything else it was in and out. I’m just a devote of comfort with little concern for fashion. If it fits, it’s comfortable and I look decent in it, I’m wearing it.

8. Favorite octogenarian actor: Robert Redford, Judi Dench, Diahann Carroll or Morgan Freeman?

Oddly enough, I’ve had a crush on Robert Redford since “The Sting” That was the movie that made me fall in love with deceit, con artists and sweet talkers.

9. Which one of your own fictional heroes would you have taken home if you could?

Lethal Heart, if I could.

10. What would you choose as your super power, and what would you do with it?

Infinite Wisdom. EVERYTHING!

11. In 10 words or less, give your best advice to aspiring writers.

Don’t stop, get it, get it.

12. Sitcom in reruns: Seinfeld or Friends?

Seinfield.

13. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? What have you done to become a better storyteller?

My strengths are my abilities to weave erotic romance around a crime suspense. My weakness is procrastination. It takes me forever to sit in a chair and get it done. To become a better storyteller, I study my craft every year by taking a class or reading a book.

14. Preferred activity in the fall: outside at the apple orchard or a leaf tour while inside a warm car?

I love to see it snow, but I really hate being outside in the cold. I will tour leaves and Christmas light displays all within the warmth of my car in a heartbeat, with a warm cup of Starbucks Macchiato extra whip and caramel.

15. Name your favorite compliment you ever received from a reader or reviewer.

“I burned dinner for two nights in a row because I couldn’t put your book down. My husband was angry but I didn’t care. I just needed to know what was going to happen next.” That was so the sweetest. That came from a reader who had picked up HIS SUBSTITUTE WIFE…MY SISTER.

 

***

 

 

 

 

Beautiful

By Sylvia Hubbard

 

Running to the bus stop, she missed the first bus and groaned, knowing she was going to have to wait for the second one.

“Psst,” someone hissed behind her.

She looked and gasped at the Lincoln, which was parked perpendicular on the side of the abandoned buildings. Turning around quickly, she pretended she hadn’t heard a thing.

In the past, Nikki told her Detroit was strange and to be careful.

“Psst,” the driver said again.

Madison tried to fight not looking, but being able to see the driver close up was what she had longed for.

Her curiosity won out. She turned to him and took in his features as she warily walked up to the car.

He was handsome. Too handsome.

“I shouldn’t talk to strangers,” she said sternly.

The stranger cajoled, reaching out to touch her sleeve innocently. “What’s the harm in talking?” His hand moved down to her hand and rubbed on her knuckles.

He was touching her. Were his eyes bad? She wondered. She looked down at her hand where his fingers rubbed against her fingers. “N-No, harm, I guess.”

“How old are you?” he inquired.

Looking back at his face, she answered. “Twenty-eight. Umm, my birthday’s coming up next week.”

She didn’t know why she told this stranger personal information, but she hadn’t told anyone about her birthday coming up, and rambling through her nervousness with a cute guy looking at her so closely made her less anxious.

He licked his thick bottom lip slowly. “Really?” he sounded fascinated by that information. “You on your way to school or work?”

Too nervous to talk, she only nodded.

He chuckled. It was a sensual sound that made her ear drums tingle. “Which one, little girl?”

“S-School… College,” she said trying to correct herself and not seem so nervous.

He gently started to massage her hand. His touch felt like warm electricity. “I could give you a ride,” he offered.

***

BEAUTIFUL, a July 2017 release, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords.

***

About Sylvia

Detroit Author & Founder of Motown Writers Network, Sylvia Hubbard has published over 40 books in suspense romance. As a happily divorced mother of three, Ms. Hubbard has received numerous awards and recognition for her work. An avid blogger, Ms. Hubbard has had five #1 Best Sellers on Amazon. Her current work is called BEAUTIFUL, and she has two more books coming out before the end of 2017. Learn more about Sylvia through her website, www.sylviahubbard.com, and through these social-media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram , YouTube, Periscope, Snapchat and Goodreads.

Author Speed Dating: Carrie Smith

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Carrie Smith

 

15 Questions

1. Are there any traditional Thanksgiving dishes that you can easily resist or dishes you refuse to even sample during your family’s holiday meal?

Stuffing. I know it’s most people’s favorite thing, but I don’t like it at all.

2. As a reader, name a few of your favorite books of all time. How have these books influenced your writing?

AN UNSUITABLE JOB FOR A WOMAN by P.D. James, because I love P.D. James, and I like that she veered from her Adam Dalgliesh franchise to write about this unlikely amateur detective who ends up solving a complex crime.

3.Which Scooby Doo character are you most like? Bonus: How are you at solving mysteries?

I guess I would have to say Velma Dinkley, because I want to believe I’m smart and I do read a lot. I’m not very good at solving mysteries, but my characters are.

4. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which was the hardest and easiest to write?

I am published in the crime fiction genre. Specifically, my three novels (SILENT CITY, FORGOTTEN CITY, and UNHOLY CITY) are police procedurals. Currently, I’m working on a thriller. Writing any novel is challenging, but I would have to say procedurals have special challenges. The plot has to be so tight. There are genre requirements that must be honored. Police procedures must be accurately portrayed, and you must give your readers a fighting chance to solve the mystery, but you also need to distract them with red herrings and give them a satisfying, unexpected ending.  

5. If you could serve as a roadie for any band, past or present, for which group would be you be schlepping speakers and testing audio equipment?

I’m not sure I would like to schlep speakers for anyone, but if I had to do it, I would probably want to do it for someone like Alison Krauss & Union Station or Bonnie Raitt.

6. If someone has never read one of your books, which title would you recommend she read first?

Definitely SILENT CITY. It’s the first book in the Claire Codella series. In this book, readers learn about Claire’s backstory as a cancer survivor and get to know how her relationship with Detective Brian Haggerty started.

 7. As a shoe shopper, are you all about the shoe warehouse where more is better, a discriminating shopper of only designer brands or a devotee of comfort with little concern for fashion?

I would have to say I’m a discriminating shopper. I prefer quality over quantity.  

8. Favorite octogenarian actor: Robert Redford, Judi Dench, Diahann Carroll or Morgan Freeman?

Dame Judi, definitely! She can make even a bad movie seem good. I just saw her in Murder on the Orient Express, and she can still deliver.

9. Which one of your own fictional heroes would you have taken home if you could?

I’d like to have Detectives Claire Codella, Eduardo Muñoz, and Brian Haggerty over for dinner anytime. They complement each other so well on the pages, I’d like to see them interact in real life.

10. What would you choose as your super power, and what would you do with it?

I would choose mind reading as my super power. As a writer, I would use that power to gain deeper insight into the motivations of characters. 

11. In 10 words or less, give your best advice to aspiring writers.

Start with what you know; enhance it with your imagination. 

12. Sitcom in reruns: Seinfeld or Friends?

Seinfeld. I live the muffin tops episode every day.

13. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? What have you done to become a better storyteller?

To become a better writer, I read the works of other talented writers; write daily; and participate with a small group of trusted writers who critique each other’s fiction.

14. Preferred activity in the fall: outside at the apple orchard or a leaf tour while inside a warm car?

Outside at the apple orchard—unless it’s really cold. I have wonderful memories of apple-picking when I was a child.

 15. Name your favorite compliment you ever received from a reader or reviewer.

After the publication of SILENT CITY, a cancer survivor who read the novel emailed me to say that I had authentically depicted her own experience.

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

Unholy City

 By Carrie Smith

 

(From Chapter 2)

Rose had only joined St. Paul’s in the hopes of getting to know some nice men. Upper West Side Episcopalians, she’d assumed, wouldn’t be all that pious. She had envisioned a spiritual but not very religious group of liberal Democrats who pursued social justice by day and enjoyed their alcohol at night. That had sounded more her speed than Match.com. But so far, she had met no available men, and she was spending way too much time with bombastic vestry members who argued endlessly over stewardship, cemetery improvements, and whether to sell the church’s air rights.

She walked down the parish house steps to head home but paused on the stone path that led to the sidewalk beyond the gate. St. Paul’s knew how to exploit individual talents for the collective good. While Rose hadn’t met the perfect widower in his forties, she had been appointed guardian of the church garden, and it, along with the soothing voices of the choir each Sunday, kept her coming back. She loved this modest plot of land more than any of the outdoor spaces she had designed for wealthy clients with private rooftops high above Manhattan. The little herb garden on the south side of the church could be seen and enjoyed by everyone in the neighborhood, and she had big plans for it.

She decided to check on the bed of Moroccan mint she’d planted last month. She turned right and followed a path that ran along the limestone wall of the parish house. The Romanesque architecture reminded Rose of a medieval castle, and whenever she walked here alone, she sensed the confluence of past and present. The church archives said that two hundred years ago, this Manhattan Valley neighborhood had been a vast stretch of farmland known as Bloomingdale. Wealthy city dwellers from the southern tip of Manhattan had spent their summers on estates overlooking the Hudson River, and those estate owners had built and worshipped at St. Paul’s. Who, she wondered now, had tended her garden back then?

Rose reached the southwest corner of the church and paused to breathe in the fragrant night air. Her Moroccan mint was thriving. She could smell it from here. She turned right again and followed the west wall of the building. The lights over the parish house entrance did not reach around this bend, but she knew her way and advanced confidently until her left foot caught under something on the path and her upper body catapulted forward. She instinctively raised her arms in front of her face and braced for bone-breaking impact, but she did not slam down on stone. Instead, her elbows thudded into something solid yet soft. A bag of dirt left by one of the volunteer gardeners was her first thought.

 

***

UNHOLY CITY, a Claire Codella Mystery and a Nov. 7, 2017, release from Crooked Lane Books, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Indie Bound and Barnes & Noble.

 

***

About Carrie

Carrie Smith is the author of UNHOLY CITY, the latest Detective Claire Codella mystery from Crooked Lane Books. Her previous books are SILENT CITY, FORGOTTEN CITYand the literary novel, FORGET HARRYShe is the recipient of three Hopwood Awards from the University of Michigan, a fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Killer Nashville’s Readers’ Choice Award. Carrie is also senior vice president and publisher of Benchmark Education Company, a literacy publisher. She lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. You can find her online through her website, www.carriesmith.nyc, and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating: Patricia Kiyono

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Patricia Kiyono

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Are there any traditional Thanksgiving dishes that you can easily resist or dishes you refuse to even sample during your family’s holiday meal?

No. I love to eat EVERYTHING!

2. As a reader, name a few of your favorite books of all time. How have these books influenced your writing?

Rebecca Winters’ romances first got me hooked on romance. She takes characters embroiled in impossible emotional conflict and somehow manages to take them to a happily-ever-after! I guess this is why I start writing my books by deciding on the central conflict, rather than the characters. My favorite Rebecca Winters books are BRIDE OF MY HEART (and the others in the Nevada Bachelor series), and THE NUTCRACKER PRINCE.

3. Which Scooby Do character are you most like? Bonus: How are you at solving mysteries?

Velma Dinkley. I wear glasses, and I’m prone to losing them (along with lots of other things). I read a lot about obscure topics and am a fount of useless information. But unlike Velma, I’m not that good at solving mysteries.

4. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which was the hardest and easiest to write?

I write sweet historical romance and sweet contemporary romance. I don’t think either one is easier to write. There’s a lot of research involved with either one. But with historical, I don’t have to worry so much about sounding dated. My daughter proofs almost everything I write, and one of her consistent criticisms of my contemporaries is that all the characters, regardless of age and social station, sounds like a 60-something educated woman.

5. If you could serve as a roadie for any band, past or present, for which group would be you be schlepping speakers and testing audio equipment?

Chicago! During my senior year in college, “If You Leave Me Now” was on the radio every day while I student taught. I loved all their songs.

6. If someone has never read one of your books, which title would you recommend she read first?

I guess it depends on whether they prefer contemporary or historical, long or short! For contemporary romance fans I guess it would be my most recent one, THE ROAD TO ESCAPE. For historical fans, my Partridge series are short holiday novellas set in Europe, and THE SAMURAI’S GARDEN is a longer novel set in Japan.

7. As a shoe shopper, are you all about the shoe warehouse where more is better, a discriminating shopper of only designer brands or a devotee of comfort with little concern for fashion?

It’s comfort all the way. I haven’t worn heels since the day I got married.

8. Favorite octogenarian actor: Robert Redford, Judi Dench, Diahann Carroll or Morgan Freeman?

Morgan Freeman. Love his voice, and he has a regal presence no matter what role he plays.

9. Which one of your own fictional heroes would you have taken home if you could?

Tom Cooper from THE ROAD TO ESCAPE is (in some ways) based on my own husband. He’s closer to my own age, so he has some of the same life experiences as me. But unlike my husband, Tom can’t cook!

10. What would you choose as your super power, and what would you do with it?

I would love to be able to organize my stuff. Papers, craft supplies, books, musical instruments and all sorts of other things are strewn about my house, and I often have to spend extra time looking for things I know I have. If I were a better organizer I’d have more time to write and indulge in my hobbies.

11. In 10 words or less, give your best advice to aspiring writers.

Join a group, learn from others, and write.

12. Sitcom in reruns: Seinfeld or Friends

I never “got” Seinfeld. He was way too whiny, and his friends were strange. I guess I’d choose Friends because I found it was less annoying.

13. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? What have you done to become a better storyteller?

I guess one of my strengths is the mechanics – spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I’ve learned a lot about making the words into a story from online classes and the speakers at my writing groups.

14. Preferred activity in the fall: outside at the apple orchard or a leaf tour while inside a warm car?

I like to be outside, but I have to remind myself to go outside. I’m not sure I’d enjoy a leaf tour. At least at the orchard I’d gather fruit to eat!

 15. Name your favorite compliment you ever received from a read or reviewer.

I’ve received a few reviews that complimented my historical accuracy. That makes me glad I did my research!

 

***

 

 

 

Four Calling Bards

in

Nine Ladies Dancing

By Patricia Kiyono

 

 

“Across the nation, women are ending, or at least decreasing rapidly, their use of the sweetener. We’ve already started to see a decline in the number of ships engaging in the trade. But there’s more that you can do. Sharpen your quills and write. Petition the government to stop dallying and end the practice of slavery. England has always prided herself for being civilized. What we are doing to our fellow human beings is anything but civil!”

Slight applause followed her pronouncement. One woman stood.

“This is a very noble cause, Mrs. Opie. I’m willing to cut back on my household’s use of sugar, but my husband will not stand for me writing letters to demand anything of Parliament.”

Other women nodded in agreement.

“I understand,” the woman replied. “Anything you can do to further the cause will be appreciated.”

“I can write letters,” someone said.

The room grew silent. Amanda watched the ladies turn to stare and, with growing horror, realized she’d been the one who’d spoken.

***

FOUR CALLING BARDS is included in NINE LADIES DANCING, a boxed set of ten clean historical romances. This Nov. 2, 2017, release from Dingbat Publishing is available only at Amazon.

 

***

About Patricia

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level.

She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her children and grandchildren. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspire her to create stories about different cultures.

Stay in touch with Patricia through her website, www.patriciakiyono.com and blog and through these social-media channels:Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

 

 

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Author Speed Dating: Sage Spelling

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

This week’s guest: Sage Spelling

 

 

15 Questions

1. Are there any traditional Thanksgiving dishes that you can easily resist or dishes you refuse to even sample during your family’s holiday meal?

Yes – I’m really don’t care for pumpkin or sweet potato pies.

2. As a reader, name a few of your favorite books of all time. How have these books influenced your writing?

Out of the classics, JANE EYRE [Charlotte Bronte] and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE [Jane Austen]. I loved the brooding male that becomes a mush for the lady he loves, and I like using that in my stories. Though they are all different in genre, all of Kristan Higgins books and J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series have influenced my writing with the relatable characters, heart-wrenching stories and gratifying endings. J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series because she reminded me that love conquers all and everything is always better with a little magic.

3. Which Scooby Do character are you most like? Bonus: How are you at solving mysteries?

Fred – Because I tend to believe in crazy legends.

Bonus: Fact – I’m the queen of conspiracy theories, and they’re only right about 20 percent of the time.  

4. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which was the hardest and easiest to write?

I’m published in Erotic Romance and New Adult – I think I find writing Erotic Romance the easiest because my characters tend to drop their guard when they drop their pants.

5. If you could serve as a roadie for any band, past or present, for which group would be you be schlepping speakers and testing audio equipment?

New Kids on the Block – They (the entire band) were my first real crush.  

6. If someone has never read one of your books, which title would you recommend she read first?

HIGH STAKES.

7. As a shoe shopper, are you all about the shoe warehouse where more is better, a discriminating shopper of only designer brands or a devotee of comfort with little concern for fashion?

Shoes have to be cute as well as comfortable. Sometimes I am a little discriminating with shoe brands and will buy certain designer brands because they are both fashionable and comfortable.

8. Favorite octogenarian actor: Robert Redford, Judi Dench, Diahann Carroll or Morgan Freeman?

I love Morgan Freeman!  

9. Which one of your own fictional heroes would you have taken home if you could?

Dex Cane in “Inked Hearts” from the MY SEXY VALENTINE anthology.

10. What would you choose as your super power, and what would you do with it?

Power to move objects with my mind. I’d use it to clean the house and do the laundry.

11. In 10 words or less, give your best advice to aspiring writers.

Learn. Nurture your craft. Write the stories you would love to read. Believe in you. Never give up. 

12. Sitcom in reruns: Seinfeld or Friends

Friends! #WeWereOnBreak #PoorRoss.

13. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses as a writer? What have you done to become a better storyteller?

I’ve attended countless writing workshops and attained my BA in English and Creative Writing. Still, grammar will be the death of me – thank God for editors!

14. Preferred activity in the fall: outside at the apple orchard or a leaf tour while inside a warm car?

Apple Orchard – cider donuts, spiked cider, and hayrides! Oh, baby!

15. Name your favorite compliment you ever received from a read or reviewer.

I was recently told that my stories are like Hallmark movies with sex. Since I’m obsessed with Hallmark movies, I was thrilled!

  

***

 

 

 

High Stakes

By Sage Spelling

 

Blake refused to let me walk back to my dorm on my own when we left the bar. My one-hour dinner had turned into three hours alone with Blake. He walked really close to me, and I enjoyed the warmth of his body shielding some of the gruesome wind. He insisted I wear his scarf again, and his scent made my insides warm. When we reached my door, I stood one step above him so we were at eye level. I took off his scarf and wrapped it around his neck.

“You can keep it.” he insisted, placing his hand over mine.

“Thank you, but you have a long walk yourself.”

“No, it’s not that far.”

“Aren’t you at the frat house?”

“Nope, I have a condo right down the street with Miles and two other roommates.”

“Oh.” I stared down at his chest, too embarrassed to look him in the eyes. He lifted my chin with his finger and his stare burned into mine. My heart pounded in my ears. He was so close I could smell the mixture of beer and mint on his breath, and the sensation of the warm air of his mouth on my chin made my stomach do that flip-flop thing again.

“Are we ever going to talk about the night of the party?” His question took me by surprise. I’d been hoping he wouldn’t bring it up.

“No.”

“Was I that bad of a kisser?” he whispered.

“No . . . it was a mistake, Blake, and since I’m your tutor now, it can never happen again.”

“So you liked kissing me?”

He was so close I couldn’t think straight. “Yes . . . I mean . . . Blake, please, can we forget about that night?” Heat flushed my face.

“Anything you want, Supergirl.”

He leaned in and kissed my cheek. “Goodnight.”

“Night,” I managed to mumble. My legs wobbled toward the door and I looked back to see him still there, waiting for me to be safely inside. I gave him a small wave and closed the door behind me. I leaned against the door and attempted to catch my breath. There was some serious chemistry between us, and even with my inexperience, I sensed it. And it scared the hell out of me.

***

HIGH STAKES, a March 2016 release, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks.

***

About Sage

Sage Spelling’s love affair with romance started when she was a child and her mother told tall tales of faraway worlds filled with magic, mystery and happy endings. Whatever hardship the characters suffered, in the end they were granted a happily ever after. It was guaranteed, and she knew her investment in the characters and the story was going to be rewarded. Growing up in a strict Chaldean Catholic family, she found freedom in-between the pages of a novel. While she read, she wasn’t confined to her family’s rules and principles. She could be anyone . . . anywhere.

Though Sage loved reading, she hadn’t found her passion for writing her own stories until she was an adult. She remembered that very moment when her world felt completely out of her control and she found herself rewriting her own story. Nowadays, she tells tales of the happily ever after, but with a sexy and passionate twist. A believer of love at first sight, and that love conquers all, she aims to create stories and characters that are three-dimensional and investment worthy.

Sage obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing with a concentration on Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University and is a contributing blogger for Heroes and Heartbreakers. During the day, she analyzes boring spreadsheets and can’t wait to get home to work on her steamy stories. Stay in touch with Sage through her website, www.sagespelling.com, and through these social-media channels: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating: Tara Eldana

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Tara Eldana

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Halloween or Harvest celebrations: Are you an enthusiast or noncommittal in these fall events? And if you celebrate, what are your favorite activities?

Halloween costume parties are fun. I decided to go to one a few years back at the last minute and grabbed a lampshade and wore it on my head. I was the drunk person at the party who wore a lampshade on their head.

2. If you could single-handedly bring back one fashion trend just because it fits your personal style, what trend would you return to the runways of Paris and Milan and why?

Hats with the little veils that came down in front of your face, ’50s style. I think Audrey Hepburn wore one in one of her movies, and it’s just so crazy cool.

3. How many full manuscripts did you have to write before you were first published?

Too many, five, not including a half dozen short stories.

4. Name your favorite celebrity crush from high school. What made that performer/athlete/political leader so dreamy?

I’m really dating myself, but when I was a freshman The Partridge Family was still on TV, so it was David Cassidy. “I Think I Love You.” And his hair. 

5. Preferred writing location: home office with total silence, public place with plenty of white noise or some other combination?

Home office with total silence.

6. Favorite more recent popular fiction heroine: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins), Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), Eve Dallas (Eve Dallas/In Death series by Nora Roberts) or Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)?

Katniss in the first book.

7. Name your favorite way to stay in touch with your readers.

Facebook and blogs on my website.

8. Extra-large French fries or a perfect square of dark chocolate?

Lots of perfect squares of dark chocolate with sea salt.

9. Have you ever, even for a moment, forgotten that one of your characters was…you know…fictional?

One of the characters, the heroine’s best friend Liz, in my novella Cabin Fever,” under contract, but not released yet, came through so strong, she’s the star of her own novella “Double Dare,” which my pub house, Black Opal Books, released first. A woman I know, named Liz, inspired her, so that may be why.

10. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Now describe what you’re doing right now: cheering in a victory stance, leaning over for a better view, turning pale and curling into a fetal position as far as possible from the edge?

Cheering in a victory stance.

11. Property Brothers or Big Bang Theory?

        Big Bang.

12. Which character from one of your own books do you wish you were more like?

I’m going back to Liz from “Double Dare.” She can’t resist a dare and she’s a bad-ass. 

13. Name a movie you’ve watched countless times but one you’ll still tune in to whenever it’s on cable.

It’s a tie. “Casablanca” and “Moonstruck.”

14. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

I first decided I was a writer when I was pregnant with my son (eek, 33 years ago) and took my first creative writing course at my community college. My first book was published in 2015.

15. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

UNDER THE RIPTIDES, a story I wrote about a human woman who is really a mermaid whose destiny lies under the waves with the (mer)man literally of her dreams. This is the first in my series of mermaid stories. I’ve always loved the sea and wanted to change the ending of THE LITTLE MERMAID, which our teacher read to us when I was in third or fourth grade in Catholic school and make it a real happy ending.

          The other one would be Alice Munro’s DEAR LIFE because nobody will ever be as good as she is.

 

***

 

 

 

 

Into the Depths

By Tara Eldana

 

 

Someone tapped on the window.

She jumped. Cold sweat trickled down her back. How could she have left herself so vulnerable? She kept her hand on her cell phone.

The police she talked to on the crime part of her beat always said not to fight for property.

She turned her head to look at the person who knocked.

It was him—the guy from her dreams.

Was she falling prey to her mother’s mental illness?

“No,” she screamed.

Another car pulled next to her and the guy standing beside her car was gone.

The older lady in the other vehicle didn’t spare her a glance as she got out of her car, her ear glued to a cell phone.

Shaking, Becca got out of her car, stood on unsteady legs, grabbed her stuff, walked into the building, got on the elevator, and made her way to her third floor apartment. She dropped her stuff on her tiny kitchen table.

She didn’t think her dreams could be a sign of psychosis. Her dream man did not ask her to harm herself or others.

The last thing she wanted now was to shut her eyes. She sank into her couch and did a search on her cell phone on symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Was she experiencing a brief psychotic episode? Some of the symptoms fit—seeing and feeling things that weren’t there. The information said these episodes were triggered by severe stress, such as death of a loved one or a natural disaster. A cranky editor didn’t qualify.

Her heart, which had been hammering in her chest since the knock on her car window, slowed and against her will her eyes closed, pulling her into a dreamless sleep.

***

Ethan paced the great hall of the Garnet City.

What was he thinking startling Becca like that when she was so mentally exhausted? His sire Thobian said he was impatient and told him to wait, but his need to touch her in her waking state was too strong.

It was easy to slip through the portal and bridge time and space because the autumnal equinox drew near. He’d looked into the quartz crystals a full earth year ago and saw Becca, his twin flame. His life and world had come alive and made sense.

She didn’t know her destiny was with him under the vast expanse of ocean that she feared. He had taken her in her dreams, repeatedly, to their mutual delight.

Lovion, the ranking member of the Ruling Council, smirked. “She screamed at the sight of you. She must come with you willingly.”

“Her mother’s illness makes her fearful,” Thobian said.

Ethan’s sire held a seat on the Ruling Council but cast only one vote. In cases of deadlock, Lovion cast the deciding vote, and he hated land dwellers, even those who could take sea form.

“She is mine,” Ethan said it quietly and calmly. The members of the council, except for Thobian, looked shocked at Ethan’s words. Lovion sneered.

***

IN THE DEPTHS, an April release from Black Opal Books, is available from the retailers: Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

***

About Tara

Tara Eldana is an award-winning staff writer for a weekly community newspaper chain in metro Detroit. She became hooked on romance fiction when her 11th grade English teacher rejected the book report she wrote, saying the book was much too easy for her and insisted she read and report on Daphne du Maurier’s REBECCA. She read Margaret Mitchell’s GONE WITH THE WIND that previous summer.

She took a long road through journalism school, graduating from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, in 1995, just shy of 20 years after she finished high school, raising a couple kids, working part-time and doing homework while her husband and kids watched TV. Still she found time to read what her kids called her “mush books.”

Tara loves the romance genre and loves letting her characters take control of their stories. She is a member of the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America. Stay in touch with Tara through her website, www.taraeldana.com, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating: Lisa Dyson

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Lisa Dyson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Halloween or Harvest celebrations: Are you an enthusiast or noncommittal in these fall events? And if you celebrate, what are your favorite activities?

I’m not that into Halloween for myself, but I love watching the kids (especially my grandbabies) at our church’s Trunk or Treat event. It’s fun to decorate my car and chat with everyone. Oh, and then there’s the candy…

2. If you could single-handedly bring back one fashion trend just because it fits your personal style, what trend would you return to the runways of Paris and Milan and why?

My personal style is comfort, and I’ve never been one to be on trend. I prefer denim with sweaters and boots, which never seem to go out of style.

3. How many full manuscripts did you have to write before you were first published?

That’s a tough one to answer. I wrote and submitted for fifteen years before I sold to Harlequin Superromance®. I completed at least seven manuscripts and countless partials, but I learned more with everything I wrote. And I was determined to “never give up!”

4. Name your favorite celebrity crush from high school. What made that performer/athlete/political leader so dreamy?

Where to begin? Paul McCartney, Ricky Nelson (loved when he sang at the end of the Ozzie and Harriet show!), Bobby Sherman, Davy Jones. So Paul and Ricky were my elementary school crushes, but they’re definitely worth mentioning. I’m not sure what made them dreamy, but I wasn’t the only one thinking that at the time!

5. Preferred writing location: home office with total silence, public place with plenty of white noise or some other combination?

Even though I have a home office with a new desk that can be adjusted so I can either sit or stand, I end up doing most of my writing on our family room couch. I also enjoy writing on our screened-in porch when the weather permits. And when our critique group needs a kick in the pants to stay on deadline, we write at our local library a few days a week.

6. Favorite more recent popular fiction heroine: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins), Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), Eve Dallas (Eve Dallas/In Death series by Nora Roberts) or Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)?

While all of these suggestions have their own unique qualities, I’d have to choose Stephanie Plum because who else could keep a hamster alive for that long?!

7. Name your favorite way to stay in touch with your readers.

Definitely Facebook. I use Twitter, but I can’t keep up with it. I do love getting emails from readers and starting a dialogue that way.

8. Extra-large French fries or a perfect square of dark chocolate?

Can’t I have both?! I’d have to say French fries if they’re from Five Guys or McDonald’s. Yes, I’m picky about fries and don’t want to waste the time or calories on bad ones.

9. Have you ever, even for a moment, forgotten that one of your characters was…you know…fictional?

My husband is always telling people about how I’ll start telling him about a scene I’m writing, and he’s amazed how I talk about my characters as if they’re real people. 🙂 Of course they are!

10. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Now describe what you’re doing right now: cheering in a victory stance, leaning over for a better view, turning pale and curling into a fetal position as far as possible from the edge?

Been there twice, the last time by train (highly recommend!). I was just in awe that it’s so big and each view is slightly different. But I do get nervous if people are too close to the edge.

11. Property Brothers or Big Bang Theory?

Definitely Big Bang Theory. I’ve learned all I know about physics from that show. 🙂 And I’m a sucker for the developing relationships in it, both romantic and friends.

12. Which character from one of your own books do you wish you were more like?

I’d have to say Callie James from Prince Charming Wears a Badge. She’s my Cinderella character, who grew up with a mean stepsister and abusive stepmother, but Callie didn’t let that stop her. She made a good life for herself, and only when forced to face her past did she find her prince. I really like that she didn’t rely on her prince to save her.

13. Name a movie you’ve watched countless times but one you’ll still tune in to whenever it’s on cable.

Charade with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. It has everything you want in a movie: romance, suspense, comedy, and a bunch of other great actors. I bought the DVD so I can watch it anytime I want!

14. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

In fifth grade, I got an “A” on a writing prompt and realized how much I enjoyed writing fiction. I never pursued it until the late 90s, and after fifteen years of hard work, my first book was bought by Harlequin Superromance® in September 2013 and published in June 2014.

15. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

Interesting question. First of all, I don’t re-read books (except by accident!). There are so many books to read that I’d definitely choose one that I haven’t read before, probably by a favorite author. Karen Robards is a must-read for me. As for a book of mine, I’d probably choose my first one, A PERFECT HOMECOMING, because I worked so hard to become a published author.

***

 

Can’t Help Falling in Love” 

Falling for You

By Lisa Dyson

 

 

Alyssa pulled her dead phone from her coat pocket and handed it to Joe. As her eyes fluttered closed, his brain went blank. He needed to keep her talking and awake.

“So you’re Tyler’s cousin?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And you live in the city?”

“Right.” She turned her head in his direction again and slowly opened her eyes. In the dim light, he couldn’t be sure exactly what color they were, but they were definitely dark. He found himself mesmerized by her mouth as she asked, “Are you a serial killer?”

He laughed. The question was about as random as you could get.

“What’s so funny? It’s a legitimate question.” She must be warming up because her speech was clearer, and she was no longer speaking in fragments.

“No, I’m not a serial killer,” he said as seriously as he was able. He turned off the engine.

“Of course you’d say that.”

He laughed again. “How can I prove it? Isn’t knowing Tyler’s name, as well as yours, good enough? No matter what I say, you probably won’t believe me.”

“So you’re headed to Tyler’s wedding?”

“I am.”

“Tell me where it’s going to be, and I might believe you.”

“Whittler’s Creek, Maryland.”

“How do you know my cousin?” She was full of questions now that she wasn’t freezing to death.

“He’s a college buddy. I’ve never met the bride.”

Alyssa closed her eyes again as she gently thumped the back of her head against the headrest. “Callie James is the bride.”

“Are you convinced now that I’m not a serial killer?”

She looked at him, her expression serious. “Even serial killers have friends who later say they had no idea what kind of sick person he was.” But then her lips twitched.

 

***

FALLING FOR YOU, a collection of fall-themed novellas from 10 Harlequin Superromance authors and an Oct. 17, 2017 release, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, iBooks and Kobo.

 

***

About Lisa

Lisa Dyson has wanted to create stories ever since she got an “A” on a writing prompt in fifth grade. She devoured the Nancy Drew series as much for the mystery as for the relationship between Nancy and Ned. So it came as no surprise to her that her stories revolve around romantic relationships.

Before she stayed home to raise her three sons and volunteer for every sport and activity her children participated in, Lisa worked as a medical assistant and a secretary/administrative assistant. She grew up in a small eastern Pennsylvania town and now lives a short distance from Washington, DC, with her husband and their rescue dog with a blue tongue, appropriately named Blue. She has three grown sons and a daughter-in-law, as well as four adorable grandchildren. When she’s not writing, reading, or spending time with family, she enjoys travel, volunteer work, and rooting for her favorite sports teams.

Be sure to visit Lisa’s website, www.lisadyson.com, to find out what’s coming next. She loves to hear from readers. Contact her by email or through Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating: Stephanie Dees

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Stephanie Dees

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Halloween or Harvest celebrations: Are you an enthusiast or noncommittal in these fall events? And if you celebrate, what are your favorite activities?

​We live on the main street in our small Alabama town. Trick-or-treaters start at one end of the street and end up at the other end at the town square for a festival. ​Our family–including the Batgirl-costumed toy poodle and our five-year-old Batman–will be sitting outside with a (giant) bowl of candy and glow-sticks. It’s so much fun!

2. If you could single-handedly bring back one fashion trend just because it fits your personal style, what trend would you return to the runways of Paris and Milan and why?

​I’m sure this is going to show my age, but I loved those high-waisted Laura Ashley dresses. They were so cute and SO comfortable! Take me back to the ’90s, haha!

Stephanie Dees, c. 1995, in one of the Laura Ashley dresses she loves.

3. How many full manuscripts did you have to write before you were first published?

 ​It took seven years and four full manuscripts. I did a lot of revising.​

4. Name your favorite celebrity crush from high school. What made that performer/athlete/political leader so dreamy?

Patrick Swayze. He was the tortured hero-bad boy turned good. Swoon! ​

5. Preferred writing location: home office with total silence, public place with plenty of white noise or some other combination?

 ​I have an office in our current home and I love it so much! It has big windows, tons of    natural light and…a door that closes! 

 

6. Favorite more recent popular fiction heroine: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins), Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), Eve Dallas (Eve Dallas/In Death series by J.D. Robb) or Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)?

​I’d have to say Eve Dallas is my favorite. I’ve read every single one of the In Death series, some of them more than once. A close second would be Hermione, though. Both are independent, strong women who’ve been through some stuff and aren’t afraid to be leaders. I love those qualities in a female character!​

 7. Name your favorite way to stay in touch with your readers.

​Facebook is the best for interaction. I also have a newsletter for those who prefer email updates and Instagram. Instagram is new to me in the last couple of years (thanks, young-adult children, for dragging me into the 21st Century) but I really like it, too!​

8. Extra-large French fries or a perfect square of dark chocolate?

Definitely fries, with lots of salt and ketchup for dipping!​

9. Have you ever, even for a moment, forgotten that one of your characters was…you know…fictional?

All the time! When I’m writing a book, the characters are living in my head and imagination. It really is like they’re real people with real problems and real relationships. (Should I admit that on the Internet?​)

10. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Now describe what you’re doing right now: cheering in a victory stance, leaning over for a better view, turning pale and curling into a fetal position as far as possible from the edge?

I haven’t been there, but I think I would be standing at the edge trying to catch my breath at the sight.​

11. Property Brothers or Big Bang Theory?

Big Bang Theory. The nerd/beauty storyline never gets old for me!

​12. Which character from one of your own books do you wish you were more like? 

​Claire Conley (the heroine from my first book, THE DAD NEXT DOOR)​ moves across the country with a dream and a half-baked plan to make it happen. I’d love to be that brave!

13. Name a movie you’ve watched countless times but one you’ll still tune in to whenever it’s on cable.

The Proposal. I’ve watched that movie a hundred times, at least! I’m a sucker for a rom-com, and that one never gets old. In fact, it’s probably on cable right now… 

14. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

I’ve always liked to make up stories. Starting in 2009, I wrote eight inspirational romantic suspense books for Love Inspired Suspense, took a long break as we added to our family, and now am writing for Love Inspired Romance as Stephanie Dees. 

15. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

This is such an impossible question. How can a person only pick two books?

DADDY-LONG-LEGS, by Jean Webster, was a favorite read in childhood, and I still love it. The heroine is thoughtful and intelligent and layered, and there are so many little nuggets of wisdom wrapped into the story.​

While I was on my hiatus from writing, I spent some time working with foster care which was an eye-opening experience for a lot of reasons. One huge realization was just how many kids are out there who, through no fault of their own, have experienced devastating trauma. They deserve families who step in and walk alongside them. The Family Blessings books were born out of my time as a foster parent and are special to me for that reason. The latest one is A BABY FOR THE DOCTOR.

***

A Baby for the Doctor

By Stephanie Dees

 

 

 

Frowning at her, Ash sat on the end of her bed. “Why are you sorry?”

“I got sick and left you to deal with Levi all on your own. And you obviously haven’t left his side.”

“I look that bad, huh?” His smile was quick and rueful as he and rubbed the stubble on his chin.

As if. It seemed impossible, but he was even more handsome with the scruff. Jordan raised an eyebrow. “Pretty bad.”

Ash chuckled. “In that case, I need a favor.”

“Anything.”

“Really? Anything? You don’t want to know what it is first?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Now you’re scaring me. What is it?”

“I have to go to this fundraiser in a couple of weeks, one that’s important to me. I need a date.”

She hesitated,

“You did say anything, remember.”

“Can I wear my boots?”

“No.” He smiled and her heart forgot to beat for a second. He was exhausted and stubbly and still his smile could make her swoon.

“Okay.”

“Okay? Really?” There was genuine surprise and excitement in his voice.

She was already regretting this decision. But she did owe him one and if that’s what he wanted…“I think you know what you’re getting into with me by now, so if my being your date is you calling in the favor, you got it.”

“I’ll text you the details when I’m awake enough to remember them.”

Levi stirred and whimpered in his crib. Jordan stood up, swayed, and sat back down to regroup.

She tried again and this time, she made it to the sweet boy’s bed, only coughing a little bit. She smoothed his hair away from his forehead and sang again the song she had sung to him the first time she saw him and almost every day since–Our God is a great big God and He holds us in His hand.

The little body relaxed and he curled up around his stuffed animal, tucking his hands under his chin as she stroked his soft curls. She covered him with the fuzzy fleece blanket, her legs shaking with the effort of standing so long.

When she turned around, Ash was sound asleep on her bed, legs curled up, feet hanging off the bed. She drew the blanket over his shoulders and stood there a moment, taking in the beautiful face, even with three days of stubble, even with lines carved from exhaustion. Those small imperfections only made him more attractive, given the reason behind them.

She resisted the urge to smooth his hair like she had Levi’s. He had many more layers to him than she’d first thought. He was still that guy–the easy-going, guitar-playing ladies’ man, but the more she was around him, the more she realized he wasn’t just that guy. He was real and deep and…complicated.

She got another blanket out of the closet in the room and settled into the reclining chair to let Ash get a few hours of sleep.

He’d stepped up and been her rock through this whole experience. Tomorrow, they were checking out. And as much as she wanted to be at home in her own bed, there was a part of her that would miss having him right by her side. Things wouldn’t be the same after they left the hospital, and they shouldn’t be.

She didn’t want to need him. But somehow, despite her best effort, she did.

***

A BABY FOR THE DOCTOR, part of The Family Blessings series and a September 2017 release from Harlequin Love Inspired, may be purchased through these and other retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million  and Harlequin.

***

 

About Stephanie

Award-winning author Stephanie Dees lives in small-town Alabama with her pastor husband and two youngest children. A Southern girl through and through, she loves sweet tea, SEC football, corn on the cob and air-conditioning. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing kids and drinking coffee, not necessarily in that order.  Learn more about Stephanie and sign up for her newsletter through her website, www.stephaniedees.com, and connect with her through Facebook and Instagram.

 

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Author Speed Dating: Darcy Woods

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Darcy Woods

 

15 Questions

1. Halloween or Harvest celebrations: Are you an enthusiast or noncommittal in these fall events? And if you celebrate, what are your favorite activities?

If by “celebrate” you mean gorging on butternut squash lasagna, autumn bisque, and apple crisp while wearing 90% fleece, that’s a resounding YES. 

2. If you could single-handedly bring back one fashion trend just because it fits your personal style, what trend would you return to the runways of Paris and Milan and why?

Oh, gosh… Personally, I feel incredibly fortunate to live in the era of leggings and will weep oceans when they go out of style. Leggings are the most socially accepted form of pajamas that exist. 

3. How many full manuscripts did you have to write before you were first published?

 1.5. To clarify, I wrote my first ms and then rewrote it from page one using the “bones” of the original premise. 

4. Name your favorite celebrity crush from high school. What made that performer/athlete/political leader so dreamy?

Luke Perry. I blame his swoony sideburns and the whole bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold persona. 

5. Preferred writing location: home office with total silence, public place with plenty of white noise or some other combination?

I love writing at home! When weather permits I sit out on my screen porch (which is basically a giant tree fort since I live in the woods). But for the other ten months of the year, you can find me in my office with a wee pot of mini orchids on my desk.

6. Favorite more recent popular fiction heroine: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins), Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), Eve Dallas (Eve Dallas/In Death series by J.D. Robb ) or Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)?

Hands down, Hermione! 

 7. Name your favorite way to stay in touch with your readers.

Ideally, it would be nerding out with them at book events! But on the social media end of the spectrum, I’d say Instagram is my fave.

8. Extra-large French fries or a perfect square of dark chocolate?

Gahhhh! Dana, this is like a Sophie’s Choice question! Okay, fine. I’ll take the lifetime supply of extra-large French fries, please.

9. Have you ever, even for a moment, forgotten that one of your characters was…you know…fictional?

Only every single day. 

10. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Now describe what you’re doing right now: cheering in a victory stance, leaning over for a better view, or turning pale and curling into a fetal position as far as possible from the edge?

Cheering in a victory stance! While I’m not height-phobic, I still have a healthy respect of them. 

11. Property Brothers or Big Bang Theory?

I haven’t seen either—I swear I’m not a bot! Most recently, I binge watched (and adored) Ozark.

12. Which character from one of your own books do you wish you were more like?

Irina Dmitriyev, the Russian piercing artist in SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS. She’s the kind of fearless girl you’d want to help carry out your bucket list.  

13. Name a movie you’ve watched countless times but one you’ll still tune in to whenever it’s on cable.

Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s a siren to my soul.

14. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

About six years ago. On a particularly dreary day in February, I sat down and tried writing. I’ve always been an avid reader, so imagine my surprise when WRITING turned out to be my oxygen! Then SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS was published in 2016.

15. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

Oof. That’s a toughy. Well, since I only have one title out, SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS it is! As for another author’s, I’d probably coin toss Maggie Stiefvater’s  THE SCORPIO RACES (heads) against THE ACCIDENT SEASON by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (tails). 

 

***

 

 

 

 

Summer of Supernovas

By Darcy Woods

 

Chapter 1

Be humble for you are made of earth.

Be noble for you are made of stars.

~Serbian Proverb

 

Two fears have plagued me from the time I was little, and today I must face one of them.

It’s not the clowns. A lot of kids get squeamish around clowns, I know. But no one else at Jessica Bernard’s seventh birthday party screamed bloody murder and wet their pants at the sight of one. That’s when I earned the nickname Wila-pee-na. The nickname’s quasi-forgotten—thank heavens. Though the fear of clowns is not.

Still, what I’m about to tackle is worse. Way worse.

Carefully I take my place at the top of the water tower, letting my bare legs dangle. The early summer breeze rushes to greet them. One hundred and twenty feet stretch between me and the ground. My pulse doesn’t even flicker. I wish it did. Because heights are a perfectly reasonable fear.

Beneath and around me, the water tower spikes like a bulbous-headed nail from an otherwise tidy landscape. The aging white reservoir once proudly proclaimed CITY OF CARLISLE. But since most everyone, except me and the elements, has forgotten the old tower, it  now reads: ITY OF CARL.

I adjust the wrinkled towel underneath me since the metal of the six-foot wide circular platform is equal parts rust and chipped pant. It’s not as if I planned on coming up here—and certainly not in a dress—but driving by on the way to Hyde Park . . . well, I just had to stop. Because for all the structure’s imperfections, it does manage to get one thing right—the view. From here the world is utterly perfect.

Unfolding the yellowing paper, I smooth it over my lap. My astrological birth chart’s intricate and faded markings offer nothing I haven’t seen a million times. I do it out of habit, because the placement of every planet and its degree is as well-known as the location of the nose on my face.

And there it is: The queen mother of all my fears. The Fifth House.

Relationships.

Romance.

Love.

Much as I’d rather bury myself in the study of astrology and its role in the human experience, I can’t avoid reality any longer. Because the clock is ticking. I have precisely twenty-two days.

Twenty-two days of planetary alignment to find my perfect match.

 

***

SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS, a May 2016 release from Crown Books for Young Readers, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Powell’s, Kobo and iBooks.

***

About Darcy

DARCY WOODS has held an eclectic mix of professions—from refueling helicopters for the U.S. Army to recharging bodies and spirits at a spa—but her most beloved career is being an author. She lives in Michigan with her madly supportive husband, two tuxedo cats (who overdress for everything) and a closet full of neatly organized shoes. SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS is her double RITA®-nominated debut young adult novel. Stay in touch with Darcy through her website, www.darcywoods.com, and through Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram and Facebook. Sign up for her newsletter here.

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Author Speed Dating – Jo McNally

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Jo McNally

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you had to wake to one song on your clock radio or cell phone dock every morning for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?

I’m a music lover, but my tastes and favorites change weekly. I guess today’s answer is “You Look Good” by Lady Antebellum. The upbeat rhythm and positive lyrics should help this non-morning-person get moving.  

2. Since one of our September guests is also the author of a nonfiction book on writing (Debra Dixon), name some of your favorite books to help writers.

ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King is the first book that gave me permission not to have twenty charts and outlines completed before I started writing – it set me free! I use THE EMOTION THESAURUS by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi to really think about my character’s motivations and body language. And, now that I’m writing to deadlines, I’m using GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT by Debra Dixon to help me do at least a little planning!  

3. Favorite TV hottie: Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) from White Collar, Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) from Grey’s Anatomy, Angel (David Boreanaz) from Angel or Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) from Criminal Minds?

I’ll have me some Derek Morgan, please! He’s gorgeous, and I’d melt into a little puddle of swoon if he ever called me “Babygirl” in the same voice he uses when he says it to Penelope.

4. In which genres and subgenres have you been published, and what does your narrow or sweeping focus say about you?

My October release, NORA’S GUY NEXT DOOR is only my second book, so small town contemporary romance is my current niche. But I like pushing out of my comfort zone, and I’m toying with writing a military hero series with some suspense elements.

5. Is social media a bad habit for you, and, if so, what is your favorite time drain?

SUCH a bad habit! My favorite for interaction is my Facebook page. The biggest time drain is Twitter–so easy to get dragged into drama, but it’s irresistible. 

6. Name the most embarrassing concert you’ve ever attended?

I’m not embarrassed by any concert I’ve been to, but I did leave a Marshall Tucker show at intermission back in the 80s (in my defense, I wasn’t the only one!). They were in a small venue not made for rock concerts, and it was so loud my ears hurt for days. I was also getting a contact high from all the pot and hash being smoked around us!

7. Which is your preference to write: love scenes or murder scenes?

I always feel whatever emotion I’m writing about, so definitely love scenes. 🙂 

8. Name one thing you wish you could change about yourself.

I wish I was less easily distracted. Remember those dogs in the movie Up? “Squirrel!” That’s me. I can’t foc….wait–what was the question again?

9. Favorite autumn activity: roasting marshmallows by a fire, driving miles for fall-leaf tours or cuddling with a special someone for an indoor movie marathon?

I’ll take marshmallows! I love the snap-crackle sound and smoky aroma of a bonfire. It’s so relaxing to watch the flames and embers die down, especially if you’re all wrapped up with someone you love. 

10. Name a theme you often see popping up in your stories.

Difficult past experiences don’t have to define who we are – we can rise above them.

11. If you had no audience, and no regrets would follow, what midnight snack(s) would you be gorging on tonight?

I hope there’s lots of tiramisu in the fridge! 

12. What was the lowest point in your writing career, and how did you recover from it?

I had a pile of rejections on my first writing attempt. They all said lovely things about my writing style, but didn’t like the story. I was so discouraged, until a friend wisely pointed out that it was better than hearing the opposite (“your story’s good, but your style stinks”). Personal writing style is pretty hard to change, but a story can be fixed. My next story was my debut novel with Harlequin Superromance, SHE’S FAR FROM HOLLYWOOD.

13. With no money limit, if you could construct the most perfect writing space, what would it look like?

The desk would be adjustable for sitting or standing. Room insulated for quiet from outside distractions. Soothing colors and a Bose sound system. A big, overstuffed chair to curl up in for editing/revisions (which I do with paper & pen). Big windows. And a door that locks (with a big doggy door for my dog to come and go)!

14. If a director made a movie about your life, which actress (living or dead) would you like to portray you, and which one would more likely be cast?

Like to portray me? Katherine Hepburn – tall, sassy and classy. More likely? People say I look a little like Ellen Degeneres and I love her, so maybe she’d get the role? 

15. When you’re not writing (or working a day job), what are some of your favorite ways to spend your leisure hours?

We live in a tourist town near the North Carolina coast with great little shops and restaurants. Himself and I like to walk around downtown, and we usually end up at our favorite outdoor music venue for a nightcap. Just chilling on our back porch with a glass of wine, the dog and my Kindle is another favorite way to relax. And once in a while, he can coax me onto the golf course for a quickie…I mean, a quick round of golf.

***

 

Nora’s Guy Next Door

By Jo McNally

 

 

 

 

Nora turned to glare at him, knowing her annoyance was partially fueled by exhaustion and hunger, but she got no satisfaction from it. He was busy staring at the Dumpster with a great deal of concentration.

“You need a platform with a step or two to be able to reach the door.” He kicked at the frozen ground, and his voice dropped as if speaking to himself. “It would need to be level.”

“Yeah, well, until the garbage company decides to supply us with a trash bin with stairs, or even better, a door that someone under six feet tall can manage, I’ll just have to make do.”

“I could make something.”

“You…why would you do that?”

He looked at her in surprise. “Because I can build something that will make it safer for you…”

“I thought you hated me?”

His hands rose in a frustrated gesture. “I’ve never once said that. Look, it wouldn’t matter if it was you or if it was Carl at the liquor store. It’s not a safe setup.”

“So you don’t hate me?”

His head dropped until his chin almost hit his chest. “I have definitely forgotten the joy of trying to talk logic with a woman.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Never mind. I’m just trying to be a good neighbor. Don’t turn it into some evil plot.”

Nora crossed her arms. “Says the man who thinks my pregnant daughter and I are plotting to trap his son into marriage.”

Asher rubbed the back of his neck, his lips thinning in anger. “Let’s leave our dumbass kids out of this, okay? Christ, I’m sorry I even came out here.” He reached his hand toward her. “Why don’t you get off that…”

Nora finished the sentence in her head. He was going to tell her to get off her high horse, just like Paul always used to say. Get off that high horse you’re always on. Just because she was organized and liked things under control, didn’t mean she was some kind of uptight snob. She slapped his hand away.

Which was a bad idea, because she was still standing on black ice. The quick movement sent her feet skittering, and she threw out her arms to catch her balance. Asher muttered something and grabbed her. Instead of being thankful for the save, she struggled to pull away.

“Get your hands off me!” She pushed him away, resisting the urge to stomp her feet like a child. The man made her completely irrational. “And don’t tell me to get off my high horse, because I wasn’t…”

“What?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, Asher Peyton. Here, take your damn coat and good night.” She whipped his warm jacket off her shoulders and moved to throw it at him, but, because this apparently was her life now, she stepped on the edge of the ice again and started to lose her balance.

“Careful!” The jacket hit him in the face and he tossed it off, grabbing her arm for yet another rescue. Could this night get any more embarrassing?

Flashing blue lights lit up the parking lot.

Yes, apparently it could get a lot more embarrassing.

“Oh, my God! It’s the police!”

***

NORA’S GUY NEXT DOOR, Book 2 in the Lowery Women series and an October 2017 release from Harlequin Superromance, is available for purchase through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harlequin.

***

About Jo

Jo McNally writes the kind of romances she likes to read – stories about characters facing real-life challenges with real-life consequences. The stories are emotional, but still have humor, and love always finds a way to pull the characters through together. She lives in coastal North Carolina with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband – her slice of the bed is very small. When she’s not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed…), she can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends while listening to an eclectic playlist. If the weather is absolutely perfect, she might join her husband on the golf course, where she always feels far more competitive than her actual skill-level would suggest. Stay in touch with Jo through her website, www.jomcnallyromance.com, or through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

***

Bonus!!!

 

Jo’s novella, “Meet Me in the Middle,” will be featured along works by nine fellow Harlequin Superromance authors [including Dana 😉 ] in the anthology, FALLING FOR YOU, set for release Oct. 17, 2017. FALLING FOR YOU may be pre-ordered from these retailers:  Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Google.

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Tracy Bilen

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Tracy Bilen

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you had to wake to one song on your clock radio or cell phone dock every morning for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?

Keith Urban’s “Cop Car” because it’s about teen love and a bad boy (although actually it’s the girl who runs from the cops!) 

2. Since one of our September guests is also the author of a nonfiction book on writing (Debra Dixon), name some of your favorite books to help writers.

ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King

PAGE AFTER PAGE by Heather Sellers

REVISION AND SELF-EDITING by James Scott Bell

 3. Favorite TV hottie: Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) from White Collar, Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) from Grey’s Anatomy, Angel (David Boreanaz) from Angel or Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) from Criminal Minds?

Definitely Neal Caffrey. I love that he paints! And his buddy Mozzie is adorable.

4. In which genres and sub-genres have you been published, and what does your narrow or sweeping focus say about you?

YA romantic thrillers – I love to be scared as long as I can fall in love too.

5. Is social media a bad habit for you, and, if so, what is your favorite time drain?

Social media isn’t as much as of a problem for me as Yahoo News. I spend too much time on tragedies and celebrity gossip.

6. Name the most embarrassing concert you’ve ever attended?

A singer at a teacher conference singing super old and awful French songs.

7. Which is your preference to write: love scenes or murder scenes?

Murder scenes, of course! It’s less cringe-worthy. 

8. Name one thing you wish you could change about yourself.

I’m too shy. I wish I didn’t hate parties. 

9. Favorite autumn activity: roasting marshmallows by a fire, driving miles for fall-leaf tours or cuddling with a special someone for an indoor movie marathon?

A movie marathon with lots of Nicolas Sparks and “Anne of Green Gables.”

10. Name a theme you often see popping up in your stories.

Overcoming a loss.

11. If you had no audience, and no regrets would follow, what midnight snack(s) would you be gorging on tonight?

Pizza, soft pretzels, M&M’s, and 3 Musketeers.

12. What was the lowest point in your writing career, and how did you recover from it?

Lowest point: querying a book that didn’t sell.

I recovered by writing a better book!

13. With no money limit, if you could construct the most perfect writing space, what would it look like?

A tree house in Switzerland with a window seat and a beautiful view of mountains, a river, and a waterfall.

14. If a director made a movie about your life, which actress (living or dead) would you like to portray you, and which one would more likely be cast?

I’d prefer Piper Perabo.  More likely: Meg Ryan.

15. When you’re not writing (or working a day job), what are some of your favorite ways to spend your leisure hours?

Reading, biking, clogging (like tap dance but with jingle taps), hiking in the woods or the mountains.

***

 

 

 

What She Left Behind

By Tracy Bilen

CHAPTER 1:  MONDAY

I sometimes have this dream that I’m drowning in a giant bowl of oatmeal. That’s how I feel when I’m at home. When I’m at school, it’s different. I hang out with Zach, sneak Ritz Bits crackers during class, and read horror novels in history. I like horror because it puts things in perspective. I mean, at least I’m not being chased by killer bees and no one’s trying to hack off my arm.

First period is band. Right now it’s marching season, which sucks because it’s all about football. I hate football. Usually I stuff a copy of Soap Opera Digest between my uniform and my real clothes so I have something to do between the pregame and half-time shows.

What I really like is concert season. That’s when I get to trade in my big, clunky, ordinary clarinet for my E-flat clarinet. Matt—that’s my brother—used to call it the “shrunken clarinet,” as if I had left it in the dryer too long.

I’m playing my shrunken clarinet in the living room, trying to chase away that oatmeal-dream feeling, when my mom comes in and stands right next to me. “Sara, we have to go,”  she whispers, even though my dad isn’t there to hear her. She’s not crying. She’s calm. Matter-of-fact. As if she’s asking me whether I want mayo or mustard on my sandwich. Except in secret.

I know it’s time to go. I’ve known for a long time.

“You must think I’m an idiot for not getting us out of here sooner.”

“It’s O.K.,” I say. I twirl my ponytail, like you do to turn off the faucet when the hose is spraying all over you.  I do that when I’m nervous. Or lying. Or both. “I’ll go get my things.”  I open the case and put away my clarinet.

“We’ll leave at lunch tomorrow. I’ll pick you up at the Dairy Dream.”

Tomorrow? When you decide to do something you should just do it. Otherwise you might change your mind. Especially if you’re my mom.

“Don’t pack a lot. Just your duffel bag.”

One bag? How do you put a whole life in one bag?

“Leave it under your bed. I’ll stop and get it just before I come pick you up.”

That’s it? This is Mom’s plan?

“Hurry. Before he gets home.”

            On your mark, get set…

“Sara, we have to be careful. Your dad said –”

“Can’t we talk later? Like, tomorrow in the car?”  I know what she wants to tell me. She forgets I was there.

***

WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND, a 2012 release from Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound and Powell’s.

***

About Tracy

Tracy Bilen is the YA author of WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster). She is a high school French teacher in Michigan where she lives with her husband and children. Tracy studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and taught Spanish at a high school ski academy. She loves biking, traveling, and red velvet cake. Stay in touch with Tracy through her website, www.tracybilen.com, and through Facebook and Twitter.

 

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