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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Author Speed Dating – Elizabeth Meyette

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: Elizabeth Meyette

 

 

 

 

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?

Definitely “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey because it took many years between writing my first book and its publication, but I never stopped believing. Besides, who wouldn’t want to wake up to Steve Perry singing to you?

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.

I saw Debra Dixon’s post on your blog and ordered her book. 🙂 Stephen King’s ON WRITING is at the top of my favorites list. Even though her book is not strictly on writing, Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC truly inspires me. 

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?

Tough choices, but I have to go with Matt Bomer/Neal Caffrey partly because I love the premise of White Collar. May I also nominate Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) from Poldark? *swoon*. 

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

I’ve been published in historical romance and mystery with romantic elements. I have also published poetry. My sweeping focus illustrates my love for diversity in what I read and write or that I’m ADD. Which I am.

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

Often, I won’t allow myself to launch Chrome until I’ve fulfilled my writing goals for the day because social media is a black hole for me. Facebook is my weakness because my family of origin lives in Rochester, NY, and my daughter and grandkids live in Houston (they made it through the hurricane unscathed). Facebook is like visiting with family. But what really gets me is marketing opportunities for writers. It’s like following a trail of bread crumbs and suddenly it’s midnight. 

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

Middle school beginning band/orchestra. All of them. Yet, I had tears in my eyes.

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

My murder scenes are not gory, but I enjoy writing the suspense that leads up to them. Love scenes are always fun to write.  

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

No more plantar faciitis. I want to wear pretty shoes. 

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?

Love to cuddle. My daughter called one evening asking if we wanted to join them at her friend’s for a drink. We had just settled in for a movie and were in our pjs. I said, “No, we’re watching a movie on Netflix, so we’re just going to chill.” She had to educate me on what I’d just said. LOL.

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

I have this epigraph by Lao Tzu in the beginning of my current book: “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” I think that is an overarching theme in all my books, romance and mystery.

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

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

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

Writing my fourth book, BURIED SECRETS, was misery at one point. I wrote it during NANOWRIMO, which is antithetical to my process, so at the end of the month I had a crazy-quilt book, and I’m a linear pantser. I sent it to my beta readers way too soon, so I had more suggested revisions than I knew what to do with. I put that book away three times, never intending to return to it. I couldn’t see how to fix it. But it kept nudging me, and my editor, Julie Sturgeon, helped me stitch it together beautifully. 

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

I remodeled my office last year and I love it. All it needs is a lounging sofa and a wet bar. 

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?

Too funny. This is a conversation my family often has. I would like Annette Bening to portray me (young Annette Bening, of course), but my daughters say Annie Potts.   

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

I like to golf, hike, swim, and read. An ideal day of leisure would be on the beach. I love to travel.

***

 

 

 

Love’s Destiny

The Brentwood Saga Book 1

By Elizabeth Meyette

 

 

“It is a beautiful evening, Captain Brentwood.  Shall we step out onto the terrace?” she asked trying to steady her trembling.  It did not help that the room seemed to be moving, too.

The half-moon perched on a treetop, and the stars sprinkled across the ebony sky. They walked silently out to the garden, the smoky smell of well-stoked fires filling the crisp air.  Emily felt a little steadier.  They sat on a bench beneath a tall oak.

“May I speak frankly, Captain?”

“By all means, Miss Wentworth,” Jonathon smiled.

“I do not want to go to Virginia with you any more than you want to be burdened with me.  I fully intend to stay here with my brother.  Father’s intentions were good, but he was wrong to do this to either of us, and I believe you see the sense in this, too.”  Emily folded her hands in her lap as if to end the discussion.

“Miss Wentworth, may I also speak frankly?”

“Of course,” Emily nodded.

“In the carriage on the way over here, I would have given anything to be rid of this responsibility.  But now, having met you, Miss Wentworth, I am not so sure I want to be relieved of my duty.  I was expecting a young child.  Instead, I find a beautiful young woman who has made it perfectly clear that she does not need me.  Yet I find that this is just what I want—for her to need me.”  Jonathon could see Emily’s embarrassed blush even in the moonlight.  He could not help but continue to tease her; she was so serious.  “No, I do not think I will be remiss in my duty.  In fact, I am sworn to my promise even more having met you.  How can I desert this fair damsel in distress?  Why, it is my opportunity to be a knight in shining armor come to rescue a fair maiden.”  He leaned forward taking her hand. “Is it possible, my lady, that out of many I might claim your heart?”  His voice was low, his eyes sparkled.  “Oh, but one kiss from your sweet, gentle lips to carry with me forever would be so kind.”

Emily felt a new rush of warmth course through her that had nothing to do with the brandy.  She knew he was teasing her, yet she tingled with excitement.  Just the thought of his soft lips against hers, being held in his strong arms…what was she thinking? She stood quickly.

“I fear you mock me, sir, when all I desire is to settle our lives so we can each go our separate ways.  Please just agree with me that this solution would be best and we shall be finished with it.”

“I do not mock you, Emily,” Jonathon spoke softly, “but even if I wanted to, which I do not, I could not agree to your plan.”

“Why ever not?” she cried near tears.

“Because your father’s will states that I hold everything in trust for you until you marry.  Or, if you do not marry, until you reach age twenty-one.  I am afraid you cannot be on your own until such time.”

***

THE BRENTWOOD SAGA, a bundled release of two complete novels, LOVE’S DESTINY and LOVE’S SPIRIT, is a July 2017 release from Crimson Romance, part of Simon and Schuster Digital Sales, and may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunesKobo and Simon and Schuster .

***

About Elizabeth

Believer in dreams-come-true and self-confessed chocoholic, Elizabeth Meyette is the author of four novels. THE CAVANAUGH HOUSE and its sequel, BURIED SECRETS, are mysteries set in 1968 in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. LOVE’S DESTINY and LOVE’S SPIRIT are historical romances set in colonial Virginia and are available together in THE BRENTWOOD SAGA bundle.

Elizabeth is an Amazon Best-selling author, a PAN (Published Authors Network) member of Romance Writers of America, a member of Sisters in Crime and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Before pursuing her writing career full time, Elizabeth taught English, Journalism, and Library Science/Technology. After retiring from teaching, Elizabeth embarked on her writing career full-time and, in addition to her four novels, has published poetry, magazine articles and her blog site, Meyette’s Musings. A friend said of her, “You haven’t retired, you’ve refired!” She is currently working on her fifth and sixth novels.

Elizabeth and her husband, Richard, live in west Michigan where they enjoy the beauty of the Great Lakes. They have an agreement that she cannot cook on writing days after he endured burnt broccoli and overcooked chicken.  Fortunately, Richard is an excellent cook.

Stay in touch with Elizabeth through her Website, Blog, Amazon Author Page, Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads, Pinterest and Linked In.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating: Debra Dixon

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: Debra Dixon

 

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?

Any one of several Christmas songs. I love them. And I love singing along with them.  Nerd alert! 

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.

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?

Seriously? Jon Snow from Game of Thrones (Kit Harington). But I wouldn’t kick any of the above out of bed for eating crackers!

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

Romance and fantasy. Romance covers a number of sub-genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense, Rom Com.  Also Young Adult.  I guess what that says about me, along with my fairly diversified list at BelleBooks/Bell Bridge, is that I like a good genre or commercial fiction story.

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

I am rarely plugged into social media, much to the chagrin of the marketing folks at BelleBooks. I have so little time, I have to choose between my family, my authors, my quilting, and speaking. Social Media is on the sidelines screaming, “Coach, hey Coach!  Put me in.  I’m ready!  Coach!”

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

The one where I had to leave before the very late/delayed headline band came on because I had a curfew. First date. It’s a wonder my husband still married me.

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

Murder scenes. My parents could read those.

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

The ability to pretend that things you put on the calendar for “later” still have to be done SOON.  That always gets me in trouble. 

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’d rather stream a TV season WHILE eating s’mores on my couch, but the husband loves a good road trip.  And he drives, so I’d probably love a leaf tour, too. 

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

Personal empowerment.  Finding life’s purpose and staking a flag to claim your life for yourself regardless of the possibility of failure.

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

 Homemade Fudge. Darn. Now I want some. . . ::sounds of me wandering into the hallway::  “Honey?”

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

When I wrote my first romantic suspense—almost on a whim, I had so much to learn. For the first time in my career, I got major revisions from an editor. Her first words to me were, “I’m disappointed.”  I had to pull the book apart, throw out 20,000 words of plot and resurrect the book. Then I had to do a second edit, which I’d never had to do before. But. . .the book was so much better.  (award winning better) I had some serious trepidation about writing another book, but my husband said, “How much worse could it be?”  True.  I realized I’d been through the fire.  I had the skills. So, I dug in and tackled the next idea.

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

It would have a chocolate fountain, and come with a pool boy and a full-time maid. 

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:  Sandra Bullock (Who doesn’t love her?)

Likely: Kathy Bates (Sort of like her in Misery getting writers to do what she wants them to do <g> . Actually I’m a loving and charming editor, most of the time.)

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

I am a mad quilter.  It’s ridiculous.  I have a purpose built room and a full closet in another room to house this insane hobby. I just hosted a quilting retreat at my house, and my husband is so awesome at taking care of us and feeding us, that someone left money in the refrigerator and silverware drawer to be sure he’d invite the crew back.

***

 

 

 

GMC:

Goal, Motivation & Conflict

By Debra Dixon

 

More examples of motivation

You need to learn GMC by applying it to other people’s work. Examine movies and books of different genres. No matter the subject matter, the basic question of motivation is still going to be “Why?”

Why does Richard Kimball of The Fugitive want to find the man who killed his wife?

Because he wants to clear his name.

Because he wants justice for his wife.

Because he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life in jail.

One of these motivations is urgent. All are compelling. Together these motivations are strong enough for us to believe each and every action Kimball takes in the movie. He is focused on one goal, pushed toward it by motivations that won’t let him quit. This is of course external motivation. It relates to the concrete external goal of Kimball, which is to find the man who killed his wife.

This particular movie is tightly constructed. The internal motivation also feeds the external GMC. As I mentioned previously, we are left to piece together Kimball’s internal GMC. Therefore, I’m listing a couple of motivations which suggest themselves in the movie. Neither is fully-developed, but they are strongly hinted.

Why does he want to free himself from the guilt?

Because he is haunted by visions of his failure. He has nightmares and waking-mares that remind him of every detail of the killing.

Because he’ll never be able to go forward until he puts the past behind him.

As in Dorothy’s example, the internal motivation is something that creates emotion. Writers of romance novels should give the internal elements of GMC particular attention since romance novels are well-known for having an external story and an interior story. “Wounded heroes” can usually be understood by studying their internal GMC. In fact internal GMC is the best weapon a romance writer has for making the popular alpha male hero—the strong silent type—accessible to the reader. If you want the reader to fall in love with Rhett Butler, then the reader had better understand what makes the man tick. If we know what’s important to him, we sympathize with him.

The Fugitive offers a good example of secondary character motivations. Deputy Marshal Gerard is like a dog with a bone.

Why does he want to capture Richard Kimball?

Because he believes felons are dangerous.

Because it is his duty to protect the citizens of the U.S.

Because his reputation is on the line.

Gerard’s multiple external character motivations for this one goal are important. Through the course of the investigation Gerard will learn that Kimball is not dangerous. The man hasn’t harmed a flea. Hasn’t committed any crimes that injure people. He’s even put himself at risk to save a young boy misdiagnosed in an emergency room. All his actions form the portrait of an innocent man trying to clear his name.

This felon isn’t dangerous. Therefore one of Gerard’s motivations is weakened. Fortunately, Gerard has two other motivations to draw on, two more that push him forward with the same determination as before. In fact, Kimball’s escape during the jail scene is a personal prick to Gerard’s ego. Gerard had Kimball in his sights, and Kimball still got away.

As one motivation weakens (Kimball is not dangerous) another motivation (Gerard’s reputation) is strengthened. When using multiple motivations, be cognizant of the ways they can work to keep your character on task.

***

GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT, a release from Gryphon Books for Writers and a widely acclaimed text for writers, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google and Apple.

 

***

About Debra

Debra Dixon is the President and Publisher of BelleBooks and its imprints—Bell Bridge Books and ImaJinn Books, which tackle a broad spectrum of genres. Their titles have been picked up in translation and by major publishers in sub-rights deals for mass market paperback, book club, audio and large print. The company has published original work from NYT and USA Today bestselling authors and is delighted to be publishing the new Diana Pharaoh Francis urban fantasy series which has consistently received Top Picks and 4.5 stars from RT Magazine.

Early in her career, Debra published with major publishers, wrote ten books, contributed to twelve anthologies, and served as Vice President of Romance Writers of America.  Her popular GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict workshop spawned a book that has become a how-to bible for writers.

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Jeannie Watt

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:  Jeannie Watt

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

My family would call me the White Rabbit, because I’m always whining about being late. Personally, I feel like the Mad Hatter—a little crazed. 

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

I channel lots of people I know, but not purposely. They just kind of show up. One of my bull riders grew rather snide and full of himself after I binge-watched the Iron Man series while writing him.

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

 Jon Bon Jovi…I mean…come on… [Editor’s note: Couldn’t agree more about John Bongiovi, Jr. 😊]

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

I love to dress up! The hardest part about retiring and moving to the ranch is that I have nowhere to wear my fancy clothes! I save them for when I visit my kids in Reno and San Francisco, and for RWA Nationals, of course.

5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

This wasn’t in a fan letter, but one of my friends asked his wife which of their neighbors lost his backhoe in a fire, and she had to gently tell him that he was thinking of a scene in one of my books. (We do have a lot of range land fires, so it could have happened. 😊)

 6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

I write the first few pages of that story, then go back to it later. I’ve turned a lot of those quick-writes into books.

 7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

Kristan Higgins, Sherry Thomas and Jane Porter, of course.

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

When I was in sixth grade, my teacher was overwhelmed (polite description). She wasn’t very good at teaching math or English, but she could certainly assign creative writing. I wrote a lot that year and discovered that I liked to tell stories.

9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

Pet lover—there’s a cat on my lap right now. I have three cats, two dogs, two birds, three ponies, three horses. We have a bunch of cows. They’re not pets—they’re a little ornery, to tell the truth.

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

Hard question, Dana! I don’t think this is off limits, but there aren’t enough heroes and heroines with some serious age on them, and I’d like to see more body types included in mainstream fiction.

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

Brett Bishop, hero of my third book, THE BROTHER RETURNS. He was also my editor’s favorite, and the book has been reprinted, so I think he is one of the special ones.

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Vacation? What’s that? My husband and I have never taken and actual planned vacation that wasn’t tied to something else. However, when I was in high school, my dad ran a geological exploration camp in the Alaskan Arctic, so I spent part of two summer vacations in the Arctic. It was an excellent experience.

13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

I’m reading STILL KICKING by Judith Arnold. She’s a former Superromance author, you know. The best book I read in a long time is RODEO DREAMS by Sarah M. Anderson.

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

My current book is beating the you-know-what out of me. As far as I know, my wonderful editor will help me make it to the end. In general, the hardest books are those in which your characters confront issues you have a hard time facing yourself. When I write books like that I always ask myself, “Why?!”

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

Every single deadline!

 ***

 

 

 

Wrangling the Rancher

By Jeannie Watt

 

Call. Get it over with. Tell Grandpa the truth.

But since Taylor had rarely given her paternal grandfather anything but good news, this was not an easy call. She needed his help.

No. She needed to be bailed out.

Taylor’s throat started to tighten up as she reached for her phone, which was wedged under sixteen pounds of sleeping cat. Max twitched an ear as she tugged the phone out from under him, and then he stretched out to his full length. Telling herself that Max was a big eater so she needed help as much for him as for herself, Taylor dialed her grandfather’s number. It rang four times, which was the norm.

“Hello?”

Taylor froze at the unfamiliar voice, deep and somehow commanding, then held her phone out to check the number. The word Grandpa showed on her screen. Right number. Wrong voice. “Uh…hi. I’m trying to reach Karl Evans.”

“He doesn’t live here.”

Taylor blinked. “What?”

“He’s been gone for almost three weeks.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m renting his place.”

“Your name.”

There was a brief pause, and then the man said, “What’s your name?”

None of your business. Taylor bit her lip. In this day and age, how much information could she afford to give? “Could you please give me the number where I can reach Karl?”

“You don’t have his cell number?”

“My g—Karl doesn’t have a cell phone.”

“He does now.”

That was news. “Then give me the number.”

“Tell me who you are—”

“I’m his granddaughter.”

“Then why don’t you know that your grandfather has a cell phone or that he moved?”

“I—”

“Tell you what…you leave your name and number, and I’ll pass along the message.”

Taylor pressed her lips together to keep from telling this guy what he could do with his suggestion. “Tell my grandfather to call me. I’m his only granddaughter, so there shouldn’t be any mix-ups.”

“That,” the man said softly, “doesn’t speak well for you.”

Then, before she could suggest he take a flying leap, he ended the call, leaving Taylor staring at her phone.

What had just happened?

And more important, who was this guy and where was her grandfather?

 

***

WRANGLING THE RANCHER, part of The Brodys of Lightning Creek series and a Sept. 1, 2017, release from Harlequin Superromance, may be pre-ordered through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-MillionGoogle Play, Harlequin, Itunes and Kobo.

***

About Jeannie

Jeannie Watt has written more than thirty books, twenty-two of which are Harlequin Superromances. She recently retired from teaching and moved from her northern Nevada home to the family ranch in Montana. When Jeannie isn’t writing, she enjoys hunting down vintage sewing patterns on eBay, sewing retro fashions, making mosaic mirrors and tending to her many animals. You can find out more about Jeannie and her books on her website, www.jeanniewatt.com, or through her Facebook author page, Facebook personal page or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – R.C. Matthews

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: R.C. Matthews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

Hmmm … I have no idea. Other than Alice and the Mad Hatter, I don’t think I can name any characters from ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Is that bad? So I’ll pick Mad Hatter. He’s pretty crazy.

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

I do this all the time. My entire Wish Come True series is based on my nieces and nephew. They love having a story where the heroine/hero is modeled after them. 

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

Sting. I know, I’m a rebel.

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

The first one. When I get “dressed up”, then I go all out.

5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

“Like good chili, it was really spicy.” That one made me laugh.

 6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

I write it down and file it away for later. I’ve written twelve books, and I don’t think I’ve ever let one jump the line.

7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

Elizabeth Hoyt (DUKE OF SIN), Liliana Hart (J.J. Graves Mystery Series), and Ron C. Nieto (Faerie Sworn Series).

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

Around 12 years old. I loved writing poetry and those books in elementary that we had to write annually.

 9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

My son is highly allergic to dogs and cats, so animals are banned from our house. But I grew up with dogs. My favorite was a poodle named Angel.

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

I think I might be the queen of off-limits. One of my heroes wanted to kill his mother for 90% of the book, and the other hero killed the heroine’s mother. I was told that couldn’t be done. Challenge accepted. (Tortured Souls Series).

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

Victor Blackburn from BLACKBURN CASTLE. His background story is heartbreaking.

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

When I was a senior in high school I went to London with a group of runners over the Christmas holiday. Favorite thing? Exploring an amazing city with no parents! 🙂 

13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

SEDUCED BY A STRANGER, Eve Silver (gothic romance) is what I’m reading right now. TIES THAT BIND (The Veil Series #5) by Pippa DaCosta made me wicked-crazy cry. I was devastated and couldn’t stop thinking about what happened for at least a week. But you have to read the whole series.

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

BLACKBURN CASTLE gave me the most trouble because it’s a Gothic romance, but it wasn’t striking me as dark enough. About twelve chapters into the book I brainstormed with my critique partner, and we came up with some great ideas on how to make the story darker.

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

I made a short video of myself for a collage that Crimson Romance put together of their authors. Eeekkk! That was scary.

*

 

 

 

Blackburn Castle

By R.C. Matthews

 

 

 

Mercy stared at the letter in her hand until the cabin door crashed against the wall, jerking her out of her trance.

“Bloody hell!” Victor roared, stalking toward her with a fierce scowl. “What do you think you’re doing?”

He tore the letter out of her hand and shoved it back into the envelope. His entire body shook with rage, and she slunk back against the wall, her heart thundering. Within seconds, he had righted the contents of his trunk and slammed the lid shut. He leaned his hands against the top, heaving in deep breaths.

“Victor, I—”

“Not another word!” He leveled her with his heated stare. “Do you hear me? The contents of that chest are none of your concern.”

Of course, he was right, but it didn’t matter one whit. She had seen the contents and read a sample of what lie within, and now it was impossible for her to set it all aside and pretend she had not.

Her knees wobbled, and she splayed her hands against the wall for support as she gathered her courage. “Tell me why you never posted your letters. Victor, please. Why would you choose not to go home?”

His nostrils flared, and he unsheathed a dagger from his hip. The distance between them vanished with a few long strides of his powerful legs. Her stomach leaped to her throat as he wrapped her hands around the hilt and pressed the sharp edge to his heart. His hands held hers in an iron grip, unyielding.

“Life is full of choices, and I would rather die than reveal the reasons for mine,” he said, bowing his head. “Here’s your chance for revenge, Mercy. Take it now, but be forewarned. Once you plunge the knife into my heart, it can never be undone, and you will relive the horror every single night in your dreams.”

His tortured eyes met hers as he pushed the knife harder against his breast, slicing through the cloth. A speck of bright red appeared around the tip.

Bile lurched in her throat as his blood soaked into his white cotton shirt.

He meant every word he said. She could read it in his eyes, feel the weight of his guilt pressed against her hands. Killing her mother had taken mere seconds, yet Victor had paid for his actions every day of his life. He wasn’t supposed to have a conscience. But he most certainly did.

So Victor wasn’t a cold-blooded murderer, yet he laid his life in her trembling hands. Could she kill him here and now? She’d dreamed her whole life of making him suffer. All she had to do was lean her weight into their joined hands, and he would be dead.

*

BLACKBURN CASTLE, Book 2 in the Tortured Souls series and an April 2017 from Crimson Romance, may be purchased from Amazon.

*

About R.C.

R.C. Matthews is the author of contemporary and historical romances featuring bold, sassy heroines and magnetic alpha heroes. Warning! The chemistry between her characters is off the charts hot, so read at your own risk. She resides in the Midwest and is surrounded by men: her husband and three sons. During her free time you’ll find her watching “The Walking Dead”, reading a fabulous book or hanging out with her family.

Connect with R.C. though her website, www.rcmatthews.com, or on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Christie Ridgway

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: Christie Ridgway

 

 

 

 

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

I immediately thought of the Cheshire cat because I’ll hold onto my grin no matter how deadly I feel about the deadline!

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

I have a friend whose (French) last name I used (because I needed a French last name), and he was certain he was starring in the book because I unwittingly used his real first name too! (I didn’t know he went by a different first name.) He bought several copies of the book and shared with his family too. Lucky for him (and me) he was a cheerful walk-on character with no bad traits. 

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

I suppose Bruce, because my dh and I are always quoting/singing the line from “Dancing in the Dark”: “I’m sick of sitting ‘round here trying to write this book.”

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

Of course it’s the clean yoga pants. And flip flops, not real shoes. SoCal resident, yo.

5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

Once someone mentioned my stories had “snappy today-ness” which my husband often delights in quoting back to me.

6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

Jot it down, of course. But usually a new idea pops in my head at the very end of finishing the current book. It’s weird, how you might think your brain is tired of creating, and yet a new idea just starts knocking on the door.

7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

Tough! I have many of my favorite authors as friends. So I’ll pick 3 I do not know personally, and all in the mystery genre, which I don’t write (so I’d enjoy picking their brains about their process).

Meg Gardiner (new to me, writes a series set in Santa Barbara where I went to college).

Loreth Anne White (who writes with a great sense of place).

Kendra Elliot (her heroine, Mercy Kilpatrick, has an interesting background that makes her unusual and compelling).

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

I don’t recall ever not wanting to write, but the bug bit hard when my mom typed up one of my stories for me at about 8 or 9. I was now in print!

9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

I love pets (we now have a dog, Hank, and a cat, Goblin). However, I told the family I banned anything that needed to be fed something alive. Need it be said that despite my ban, we had several pets over the years that needed to be fed live crickets or small feeder fish?

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

Yikes. Now I have to admit I can’t think of anything “off-limits” that I want to write about! The boundaries these days are so wide!

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

Poppy Walker, from ONE LOOK (One & Only series, Book 1). She’s an incurable optimist and I love her for that.

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Twice we’ve gone on a boat-bike tour in Europe (just got back from a trip between Bruges and Amsterdam). You ride all day and then hop back on the boat at night. It was great for the dh, who needs action, and you get to see beautiful sights and small towns up close. Also, meeting people from all over the world who are your fellow passengers on the boat. We became fast friends!

 13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

I’m reading ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE [by Anthony Doerr], which was recommended to me by fellow passengers on the aforementioned boat after I recommended to them THE NIGHTINGALE [by Kristin Hannah] (set in France in WW2). That was the best book I’ve read in a long time, and it hit me hard as I read it while visiting France. I recently finished GOING DARK, the start of a new romantic-suspense series by Monica McCarty, and I loved it!

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

Whatever project I’m currently working on is the book that gives me the most trouble. To make it through, I have writing friends who I call who talk me through it. They’re the best!

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

I remember submitting my first book to New York publishers. In those days, you sent a print book via mail. I had my (then) little sons “sprinkle” lucky “fairy dust” on the package just before sliding it into the slot.

***

 

 

 

The Secret

By Christie Ridgway

 

 

Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson returned to the kitchen to deal with the dishes and restore the pots and pans to their proper place. She liked tidiness and order in all things—emotions included. Her friend and fellow butler, Emmaline, sometimes accused her of capping off her feelings, and Charlie didn’t disagree. Or find anything wrong with it.

“In my book,” she murmured to herself now, “compartmentalizing isn’t a sin.”

“What’s not a sin?” a masculine voice questioned.

Charlie whirled around, instant heat crawling up her throat and cheeks. “Um, hi, Ethan.” Why hadn’t she taken the time to change into something other than cropped leggings and a matching T-shirt? When was the last time she’d brushed her hair?

Her boss, the man who employed her as a butler and as a caregiver for his young son, smiled, softening the lines of his lean and handsome face.

“Charlotte,” he said now.

She pretended to scowl at him and told herself that she found his use of her full name—he was the only one who ever did use it—irksome. It made her feel too…feminine, and she was supposed to merely be a functional feature in his life. A Charlie.

“I didn’t hear you come in.” He’d been on a business trip for two weeks.

“You were lost in thought.” A heavy pause. “Something about sinning?”

At the amused and inquisitive tone, she glanced up at him. He looked back, one dark eyebrow winged up and the hint of a smile on his firm lips. A shiver tried working its way down her spine, but she ruthlessly held back the sensation.

“It was nothing,” she said.

“I’m disappointed to hear that.” He laughed again, sounding slightly chagrined. “For a moment I thought one of us was breaking out of our rut.”

Meaning…? Then a clatter of running footsteps sounded on the stairs.

With a grin, Ethan braced and managed to catch his six-year-old son who launched himself into the air.

“Dad!” Wells hugged with exuberance.

Ethan placed his cheek against the top of his son’s hair and closed his eyes. “Wells,” he said, voice full of satisfaction. Then his eyes flipped open and they met Charlie’s. “Home.”

Wells chattered away about everything. “It sounds like Charlie took good care of you,” Ethan replied when the boy wound down. “I’m glad I brought her back a present from Paris.”

Charlie froze. A present? For her? From Paris? For some insane reason, her mind instantly leaped to thoughts of chocolate. Perfume. Then silk. Lace. Designer lingerie that would cinch her waist and give her small breasts actual cleavage. She swallowed. Surely not.

“Here.” Ethan crossed to shove a soft item into her hands.

She looked down, rattled. It took a moment for the words printed on the fabric to sink in. Je t’aime.

I love you.

“What did you get?” Wells asked.

Speechless, Charlie shook her head.

“She needs to unfold it,” Ethan said.

With unsteady hands, Charlie unfurled the fabric.

“It’s a sweatshirt,” Wells said, clearly unimpressed.

Je t’aime Paris,” Charlie read, now that all the words were exposed. “I love Paris.”

The hoodie material was a medium blue, and the inside surfaces felt buttery soft. She pulled it over her head and then slid her arms into the sleeves. They hung over her hands, almost to the tips of her fingers, and the hem hit her at mid-thigh.

She looked down at herself. The sweatshirt could fit two or three of her.

“Perfect,” Ethan said, beaming with approval. “It keeps you all covered up.”

“I…thank you.” She folded back the right sleeve, and the left. “It’s a thoughtful gift.”

One that you could give a maiden aunt, a kid sister, or that favorite niece her friends said Ethan treated her as.

Yanking it over her head, she called herself all kinds of a fool. Ethan didn’t think of her as someone who wore lingerie.

The man was a father first and a widower grieving for his late wife second. In his life, Charlie was a convenience, like a can opener or a toaster oven.

Not a woman.

***

 

THE SECRET, Book 6 in the Billionaire’s Beach series and an Aug. 15, 2017, release, may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo.

 

***

About Christie

Christie Ridgway is the USA Today bestselling author of over 50 contemporary romances for Harlequin, Avon, Berkley, and Kensington as well as the indie-published Rock Royalty series and of KNOX (now a USA Today bestseller), book 4 of the very successful 7 Brides for 7 Brothers series. She is a six-time RITA finalist and the winner of awards for Contemporary Romance of the Year and Career Achievement from RT Book Reviews.

Connect with Christie through her website, www.christieridgway.net, or on Facebook or Twitter. Sign up for her newsletter here.

 

Praise for Christie’s sexy, sunny romances:

  • “Emotional and powerful…everything a romance reader could hope for.”  — Publishers Weekly (starred review).
  • “Ridgway’s feel-good read, with its perfectly integrated, extremely hot, and well-crafted love scenes, is contemporary romance at its best.”  — Booklist (starred review).
  • “Sexy, sassy, funny, and cool, this effervescent sizzler nicely launches Ridgway’s new series.” — Library Journal.
  • “Ridgway rocks romance!” — Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today Bestseller.
  • “Christie Ridgway writes a sizzling combination of heat and heart.” — Barbara Freethy, #1 New York Times Bestseller.

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – A.J. Norris

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: A.J. Norris

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”  The white rabbit.

I normally don’t write on deadline, but I’m currently writing a Christmas story with a deadline. I feel like I’m scurrying around, even though I have plenty of time.

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

Um…yes and man, I hope not. 

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

I’d say Lenny Kravitz because he doesn’t look 50.

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

I’m a jeans and T-shirt gal. I do own dresses and heels, but I try to avoid wearing them for the most part. “Dressing up” takes me out of my comfort zone, but so does wearing sweat pants.

5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

I don’t know if this would be considered unusual, but I got a random request for an autograph from someone in another country. I was so flattered that I sent off a couple signed posters of my book covers right away.

6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

I immediately write that new idea down. I have an app called Evernote that I use to store story ideas.

7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

J.R. Ward: I love her, and she’s the reason I started writing.

Stephen King: I don’t necessarily subscribe to his writing methods, but he’s so creative, and I can imagine he would be very interesting to talk to.

Gena Showalter: Love her, nuff said.

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

When I was about 37, I was wanting to deal with some old baggage that kept creeping up on me. So, I decided to write a fictionalized story of some things that happened to me. The book was more of what could’ve been if I’d made different choices. The experience wound up being cathartic, and I’ve been writing ever since.

9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

I’ve loved dogs for as long as I remember. I’ve never considered myself a cat person, even though my husband and I have had a couple of cats in the past. We now have two Yorkie mixes named Reese and Rollo. They are often snoozing in my office when I write.

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

I want to write a horror romance, even though I can’t watch horror films. LOL. Is there such a thing?

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

I love Harry Hunter from TATTOO KILLER, Book 1 of the Tattoo Crimes series. He was the hero of that book although not the romantic hero. Harry is a 55-year-old, two-fisted coffee drinker and a grumpy but loveable police detective. I loved him so much I wrote book two in that series, INKED KILLER, about him. (Note: INKED KILLER releases in October 2017.)

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Yikes! I don’t vacation much. So, any vacation is unique for the simple fact that I took a vacation. I recently went to Orlando for the RWA national conference and brought my husband and son along, and I enjoyed traveling with them. It was also my son’s first trip to Disney, and he was so excited. I loved that I could give him this trip.

13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

At this moment, I’m not reading anything. I also work full-time and have many writing projects I want to finish before the end of the year. This leaves very little time for anything else, and my family comes before reading.

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

They all gave me trouble. Sometimes the characters don’t want to do what I tell them to do. I’m a pantser for the most part. However, whenever I get to about the 20k – 30k word mark, I tend to hit a wall. Although I never start writing a story unless I know the ending.

What helps me make to the end is plotting out the climax of the story and working backward.

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

Release days are always the scariest moments. You never know if readers will connect with your characters or give you a bad review.

***

 

 

 

Tattoo Killer

By A.J. Norris

 

The expression on his face melted her insides. His eyes burned for her. She swallowed hard. That crooked smile of his made an appearance. The tiny bathroom grew larger and suddenly he seemed so far away. An easy fix. She removed her shirt and stepped closer to him, then slid her jeans down her thighs. Now it was his turn to undress. Luckily for her, he was only wearing gray plaid flannel pajama bottoms.

He gripped the waistband and ripped them down his legs.

 

***

TATTOO KILLER, Book 1 in the Tattoo Crimes series and an October 2016 release from Limitless Publishing LLC, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon US, Amazon Canada and Amazon UK.

Bonus:

TATTOO KILLER is also part of a boxed set, MY SECURITY: PROTECTION AT ITS FINEST, from Limitless, featuring stories from seven romantic-suspense authors.

***

About A.J.

A.J. Norris is a romantic suspense and paranormal romance novelist. She began writing as a way to dim down the voices inside her head. She enjoys being able to get inside someone else’s head, even a fictional one, and see what they see. Watching how her characters deal with difficult situations or squirm with the uncomfortable ones make the hard work of writing all worth it.

She is a movie buff, especially book adaptations, loves watching her son play baseball and communing with other writers. She lives with her family who are extremely tolerant (at least most of the time) of all her late nights behind the computer.

Stay in contact with A.J. through her website, www.ajnorrisauthor.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.

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Author Speed Dating – Kristin Bartley Lenz

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: Kristin Bartley Lenz

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Which ALICE IN WONDERLAND character would best describe you when you’re writing on deadline?

Oh my, I can’t even answer the first question without doing research! I’ll go with the obvious – Alice – because I get confused and stuck multiple times during the process of writing my novels. 

2. Have you ever based a character, at least in part, on a real person you knew, and was that person able to see himself/herself in your story?

No, in early drafts my characters might have a trait or experience from a real person in my life (or myself), but through revising they grow into someone completely new with their own personality and history. That doesn’t stop my friends and family from constantly guessing who is based on who in my stories though!

3. Hot rockers over 50: Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen or Bono?

Lenny! I saw him in concert at the Filmore in Detroit a few years ago. It’s a small venue, and he left the stage and roamed through the audience. Incredible show.  

4. What is “dressed up” for you: a designer dress and stiletto heels or clean yoga pants, a sweatshirt and tennis shoes without holes?

Stiletto heels, hahaha. I have a pair of flip flops with a bit of a heel… 

 5. What was the most unusual comment you’ve ever received in a fan mail letter or a review?

I’ve received such heartfelt letters from readers who have related to my character’s journey – especially the grief of moving across country and having to start over. But the most unusual comment was from a 90-year-old grandmother. The letter arrived in the mail on stationary, and I could hardly read her handwriting. She wrote, “I’m not a rock climber, but I do like rocks.” And then she went on to tell me about her experience growing up on a farm that had a ton of rocks which they used to build structures, walls, fences, etc. I was so touched!

 6. What do you do when you’re in the middle of a book and a new idea pops into your head?

 I keep notebooks everywhere – on my desk, next to my bed, in my car. When I have an idea about my current project or a new one, I jot it down. If I don’t, it’s gone – poof!

 7. If you could invite three of your favorite authors over for a summer barbecue, who would be chowing down on hamburgers and brats (or veggie burgers) in your backyard?

Maya Angelou – I was fortunate to see her speak many years ago when I lived in California, and I named my daughter after her. 

Marcus Zuzak – I recently re-read THE BOOK THIEF, one of my all-time favorites – narrated by Death as a character – how did he come up with that?! Such a powerful, moving story.

Judy Blume – my childhood favorite!

8. How old were you when you had the first inkling you might be a writer, and what gave you that hint?

Eight years old. I wrote a poem in 3rd grade, “If I Could Fly”, and it won a contest. I got to read it in front of the entire school and go to a Young Authors event where I met real authors and got their signatures. 

 9. Do you ban all pets from your house, tolerate them for your family’s sake or are you a pet lover, typing with a dog, cat and maybe a bird sitting on your lap right now? And if you are a pet lover, list your brood.

I have terrible allergies and asthma, so I thought I could never have a furry pet. My daughter researched hypoallergenic/non-shedding dogs and begged for nearly ten years before I finally caved. Henry is a two-year-old Bichon-Poodle, and we have a new puppy too – Harper, a Havanese-Poodle. We love them so much – I wish I had done it sooner!

10. If you could write a novel containing any generally “off-limits” element, what would we find in your story?

Is there any such thing nowadays? I am amazed and inspired by the depth and honesty and topics explored in the young adult novels currently being published. 

11. Name a hero or heroine from one of your books you loved a little more than all the others. (Yes, it’s like picking a favorite child.)

I really grew to care about Cara in THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO. She’s an introverted, nature lover like me, but much more confident and brave.

12. Name the most unique vacation you ever took, and what was your favorite thing about it?

Sixteen years ago, before we became parents, my husband and I traveled to Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas by Nepal and India. At that time, the country was still very traditional and just beginning to open up to the Internet, etc. We spent one day hiking up a mountain and slept at a monastery. The peace and beauty of the next morning’s sunrise with the monks chanting will always be with me. 

13. What book are you reading right now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?

X: A NOVEL by Ilyasah Shabazz, Malcom X’s daughter, and Kekla Magoon – it’s captivating. Two completely different, but completely satisfying stories that I read in recent months are THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE by Lisa See and THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas.

14. Which of your books gave you the most trouble, and what helped you make it to “the end”?

I have a New Adult novel in progress that I’ve abandoned many times, stuck in the middle, unsure where it should go or how it should end. After discussing it with my agent, I think I should stop trying to make it NA. My voice is more YA, and books like FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell are showing me that you can have slightly older, college-age characters in a YA novel. 

15. What has been your scariest moment as an author?

Speaking at the NTCE/ALAN annual conference in Atlanta to a room of 500 teachers/librarians. I was so honored to be invited, but intimated to be amongst so many of the acclaimed authors I’ve admired for years. But of course, everyone was so nice and welcoming.

  ***

 

 

 

The Art of Holding On and Letting Go

By Kristin Bartley Lenz

 

PART I: ECUADOR

I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center. —Kurt Vonnegut, Piano Player


CHAPTER ONE

The waiting was the worst. I gripped my worry stone from Uncle Max, turning it around and around in my hands. My fingers probed its golden grooves and contours. The sharp edges shimmered.

My teammate Becky sat next to me in the isolation tent examining her red, white, and blue–painted nails. It was the second day of qualifying rounds, and we’d been waiting two hours for our turns to climb. Tiny stars dotted her thumbs. I didn’t understand why she bothered—the polish always chipped by the time she finished her climb.

My own nails were cut as short as possible, my fingers rough and calloused. A crosshatch of red lines spread across the back of my right hand where I had wedged it into a crack last week, the rock scraping my skin. I couldn’t tell yet if it would leave a scar like the other white marks on my hands, the crooked gash on my thumb, my pitted palm.

“Ugh,” Becky said. “I want my phone. Seriously, I’m, like, twitching. Look.” She pointed to her eye.

“Maybe you got mascara in it.” Her lashes were so clumped and coated, they looked fake.

She’d scrolled through her phone at breakfast, tilting it toward me so I could see the picture of her hand placed over her heart like she was reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. She’d managed to display our USA team logo, her cleavage, and her patriotic nails all in one close-up shot. Four hundred likes.

No phones allowed in the tent, and no checking out the routes before we climbed; the canvas walls blocked our view of the competition area. A collective groan came from the bleachers outside. Someone had fallen.

“Another one bites the dust.” I tumbled the stone faster and faster in my hands. I swear I could feel its heat, its fire.

“It’s pyrite. Fool’s gold,” Uncle Max had said. “Named after fire. It’ll spark if you strike it against steel, so they say. Want to try?”

For the rest of the day, we struck it against anything metal we came across—tent poles, car rims—startling ourselves and giggling every time we saw the tiniest spark.

***

THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO, a September 2016 release from Elephant Rock Productions, Inc.,  may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Bound.

 

***

About Kristin

Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker from metro-Detroit who fell in love with the mountains when she moved to Georgia and California. Now she’s back in Detroit where she plots wilderness escapes and manages the Michigan Chapter blog for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Her debut young adult novel, THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO, was a Junior Library Guild Fall 2016 Selection and was chosen for the Great Lakes Great Books 2017-2018 state-wide literature program. Learn more at kristinbartleylenz.com and find her on Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Rachel Brimble

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: Rachel Brimble

 

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Picture yourself inside an airplane with the door open and a parachute on your back. Would you shout “whoo-hoo” and leap out or hold on for dear life and beg the pilot to land? Or is this question moot because you would be waving up at the plane from solid ground? 

Good lord, I’d hold on for dear life and beg the pilot to land! I only fly in the name of vacation, spending the entire flight thinking about my destination rather than the fact I’m thousands of feet in the air. *shiver* 

2. Name a character from one of your novels that is most like you. Now name one least like you. Explain why?

I’d say Kate from ETHAN’S DAUGHTER is most like me – she tries to care for everyone, worries for everyone and more often than not feels overwhelmed and unsure of her own abilities…but nothing stops her from forging forward!

Least like me is Sasha Todd from WHAT BELONGS TO HER – she is one woman who won’t be messed with! She’s gutsy and strong and takes no prisoners. She’s least like me, but I would LOVE to be more like her. Love that woman!

3. What is your favorite writer’s “uniform,” and how much do you love that you get to pick it out?

My uniform is jeans, T-shirts or vests and flip-flops – I love that I can wear what I want, when I want, without having to dress up for work. I know some writers who stay in their pajamas all day. Wish I could do this, but I have to get dressed to get my head in ‘work mode’.

4. Would you consider yourself an exercise fanatic, a couch potato or somewhere in the middle? And when you do get out to exercise, what is your favorite way to sweat?

I don’t exercise at all! Having said that, I wouldn’t consider myself a couch potato either. I walk my dog for at least an hour and half a day (split into two walks) and am constantly running around after my two teenagers/the house etc. I have absolutely no idea how many times I run up and down the stairs to my office every day! 

5. How many books have you written and in which genres and sub-genres?

I’ve written twenty-one books (18 currently published), and I have written mainstream romance, romance suspense, Victorian romance, romantic comedy and Edwardian romance. I’d like to try Georgian romance next!

6. In 10 words or less, give your best advice to aspiring authors.

Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft. 🙂

 7. Name a talent you have that your readers might not know about? (Keep it PG, of course.)

Apart from multi-tasking at an incredible speed?? Um, I can pull an extremely exaggerated Elvis-style lip curl & no, I’m not attaching a pic, lol!

8. What are the steps you take when you start writing a new book? Character sketches? Extensive research? Fly by the seat of your pants and figure it all out later?

I start by browsing the internet for pics of my hero and heroine (and villain, if I have one) and then write character sketches and a 3-4 page synopsis. Then it’s onto a chapter plan where I write a paragraph for each chapter.

The first draft I write from start to finish without looking back – I am definitely a plotter!

9. From the over-30-action-hero-hotties list: Will Smith or Chris Evans?

Ooh, as much as I wouldn’t kick Will Smith out of bed…it has to be Chris Evans for me. I usually like my men clean-shaven, but any man who can carry off a beard like Chris can gets my hottie vote! 

10. If you had it all to do over again, what would you do differently in your writing career?

I would prepare myself for the amount of promo work needed on top of the actual writing. This side of the business never occurred to me! It wasn’t until my fourth book was published that I started actively promoting.

Apart from that, nothing. I’ve loved and learned through every aspect of my journey and hope I get to write for many more years to come.

11. If you could have dinner with one living celebrity or world leader, who would it be, and what would be on the menu?

Oprah Winfrey – I think she’s a great role model, and I find her very inspiring and empowering. As I don’t cook, I’d have my husband prepare either his amazing Thai green curry or fish pie. Yum!

12. Preference for a great evening with your significant other: dinner out and possibly dancing or takeout and your control of the remote for Netflix?

Takeout and Netflix – as much as I love dinner and dancing, I am happiest in my pjs with my husband beside me, preferably watching something that makes us laugh. 🙂

13. Do you have a book that you been dreaming of writing for years, and what has kept you from writing it?

I would love to write a book about the slave trade that happened in my home city of Bristol during the 19th century. Bristol was one of the main harbors for importing slaves, and I am passionately against this atrocity and would love to create a story from a slave’s point of view and a reluctant slave owner’s wife. Philippa Gregory has already written a book along these lines. A RESPECTABLE TRADE is a phenomenal if, at times, a hard read.

14. Were there other authors who helped you along the way on your writer’s journey, and how did they make a difference for you?

Far too many to name them all! They have helped me by supporting me through the times I thought I’d never write a book, hated the one I was writing or thought I wouldn’t be published again. They have also helped with their ups and down, experiences and passing on what works and what doesn’t. 

15. If we imagine that a reader has lived on a desert island and missed the opportunity to read one of your books, which title do you recommend that she order as soon as she returns to civilization?

HER HOMETOWN REDEMPTION for contemporary and WHAT A WOMAN DESIRES for Victorian – feisty, go-getting heroines and swoon-worthy heroes. What’s not to like? 

***

 

 

Ethan’s Daughter

By Rachel Brimble

 

 

On the other side of the front door, the kitchen/dining room stretched from the front to the back of the house. Even though it was in semi-darkness, Leah could see straight through to some French doors at the back, the only illumination coming from the overhead light of the stove as it glinted on steel toward the center of the room.

Snapping her gaze to Daisy, Leah’s opinions on personal tastes flew to the wayside. The little girl’s eyes were wide as she chewed her bottom lip. Leah frowned. “Are you all right, sweetheart? Do you want me to knock?”

Daisy nodded and raised her arms toward Leah as though asking to be picked up. “Yes, please. Daddy might be mad.”

“Oh, Daddy won’t be mad.” Leah bent down and picked her up, hitching her onto her hip as Daisy’s arms wound around her shoulders. “If Daddy’s mad, I’ll show him how to calm himself down real quick. Don’t you worry about that.” Leah lifted the brass knocker and let it fall a little harder than necessary.

No answer.

Narrowing her eyes, she knocked again.

She was readying to knock a third time when the door swung open.

“I told you to get the hell out of here and not come back.” The man’s dark hair sprouted from every angle, his raging eyes bulging and his right hand swathed in a blue and white­­––and bloodied––dishtowel. His gaze held Leah’s for a split-second before he snapped his attention to Daisy. “My God, Daisy. What are you…” He cupped Daisy under her armpits, wincing slightly as he pulled her from Leah’s arms to hold her close. He pressed a lingering kiss to her temple, his raging eyes hidden behind his closed lids.

Leah stared, completely stunned by this flannel-shirted, blue jeaned, incredibly good-looking man…despite the bulging eyes. She coughed in a bid to find her voice. “Mr. James?” She planted her hands on her hips. “You’re Daisy’s father, I presume?”

He opened his eyes and Leah stepped back.

Apparently when his eyes had softened and were filled with regret rather than rage, they looked good. Really good.

She stilled. Oh, good Lord. Be damned if those weren’t the eyes of Templeton’s reclusive novelist, Ethan James.

***

ETHAN’S DAUGHTER, an August 1, 2107, release from Harlequin Superromance and a part of the  Templeton Cove Stories miniseries, may be pre-ordered through these retailers: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Harlequin and Kobo.

 

***

About Rachel

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had seven books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and an eighth coming in Feb. 2018. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Connect with her through her website, www.rachelbrimble.com, and her blog. Find her on these social media channels:   TwitterFacebook, her Facebook Street Team, her Amazon Author Page and Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Terri Reed

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: Terri Reed

15 Questions

1. Picture yourself inside an airplane with the door open and a parachute on your back. Would you shout “whoo-hoo” and leap out or hold on for dear life and beg the pilot to land? Or is this question moot because you would be waving up at the plane from solid ground?

If I knew the parachute would really open, I’d be jumping with my eyes closed.

2. Name a character from one of your novels that is most like you. Now name one least like you. Explain why?

Claire from my second book, A SHELTERING LOVE, is most like me. She is earnest and a bit naïve. My heroine from the book THE COWBOY TARGET, Jackie, is tough and brave and bold. I’m not.

3. What is your favorite writer’s “uniform”, and how much do you love that you get to pick it out?

Most days I wear loose fitting yoga pants and a short-sleeve loose fitting top. I can’t stand anything binding.

4. Would you consider yourself an exercise fanatic, a couch potato or somewhere in the middle? And when you do get out to exercise, what is your favorite way to sweat?

I love to exercise, but I don’t make enough time for it. When I do exercise, I love to dance, go for hikes, and do Pilates and Barre3.

5. How many books have you written and in which genres and sub-genres?

I’ve written 40+ books. Christian romance and romantic suspense novels and few sweet romances.

6. In 10 words or less, give your best advice to aspiring authors.

Keep learning your craft, never take criticism personally and be persistent.

7. Name a talent you have that your readers might not know about?

Not sure I have any.

8. What are the steps you take when you start writing a new book? Character sketches? Extensive research? Fly by the seat of your pants and figure it all out later?

I’m a heavy plotter, and forms are my BFF’s.

9. From the over-30-action-hero-hotties list: Will Smith or Chris Evans?

That’s a hard decision, they are both hotties. I will watch any movie with either actor and would love to meet them.

10. If you had it all to do over again, what would you do differently in your writing career?

I would listen to my college professor who encouraged me to pursue writing.

 11. If you could have dinner with one living celebrity or world leader, who would it be, and what would be on the menu?

Queen Elizabeth—salad, fish and veggies and cake.

 12. Preference for a great evening with your significant other: dinner out and possibly dancing or takeout and your control of the remote for Netflix?

My preference would be dinner out and dancing. I love to dance.

13. Do you have a book that you been dreaming of writing for years, and what has kept you from writing it?

I have several but deadlines keep me from writing for myself.

14.Were there other authors who helped you along the way on your writer’s journey, and how did they make a difference for you?

There are so many author friends who’ve made a huge impact with their support and encouragement.

15. If we imagine that a reader has lived on a desert island and missed the opportunity to read one of your books, which title do you recommend that she order as soon as she returns to civilization?

 A SHELTERING LOVE.

 ***

 

 

 

Guardian

By Terri Reed

 

 

When they were within shouting distance of the rocks, Leo noticed fishing poles and a tackle box. This must have been where Alicia and her son had been when they’d seen the killer.

Alicia pointed upstream and yelled, “He came from that direction and stopped about three hundred and sixty feet straight out from here.” She gestured to the rocks beneath her feet.

“That’s helpful and gives us a place to start.” Leo stared, admiring the pretty lady. Her hair lifted slightly in the wind that had kicked up. Sunlight reflected in her piercing blue eyes. “You and the officers can head back to the station.” He didn’t want her here to see the body when they found the victim.

Alicia shook her head. “I want to make sure she’s found. Someone has to stand up for her.”

Respecting her decision, he saluted her then turned to Craig. “You heard the lady.”

Craig slowly turned the boat toward the middle of the river. True stood on the bow, his head up, gaze alert. Leo tuned into the dog’s nuances the farther away from shore they traveled. He documented the time and distance from land on the notepad he carried. They circled the area where Alicia had pointed. True showed no signs of alerting.

“Head downstream,” Leo instructed Craig.

Since the body hadn’t been weighted down, it most likely had been swept along by the river’s current.  Craig zigzagged the boat from one shore to the other, moving farther and farther away from the spot. Leo wondered if maybe the suspect had come back and removed the woman’s body. Frustration curled in his stomach.

Then True shifted. He licked his lips and shuffled his paws, clear signs he was picking up a scent. Leo’s pulse jumped. The dog’s tail went down as he craned his neck, dipping his nose toward the water. He pivoted, and then leaned over the starboard side. Keeping his snout at the surface of the water, True walked the length of the boat and stepped easily over the bench seat.

Anticipation revving through him, Leo gestured for Craig to make a slow turn. True retraced his steps, barking an alert. He scratched and nipped at the water. Knowing the animal had scent glands in the roof of his mouth, Leo interpreted these actions as the sign this was the spot.

“Good boy.” Leo grasped True’s life vest to keep the dog from jumping in.

Leo nodded at Craig, who shut off the motor, then strapped on a buoyance compensator, his mask and oxygen tank. The man sat on the side of the boat and fell backward into the water. True barked and lunged for the water. Leo continued to hold him back.

“No, boy,” Leo said adjusting his grip on True. “We’re staying here.”

Leo and True both watched the surface of the river. Leo pulled on latex gloves in anticipation of handling the body and prepared the large, waterproof plastic body bag. His gaze darted back to the shore, where Alicia stood sentinel on the rocks, flanked by the two officers.

She held her head up and her shoulders back like a fierce warrior. She was tall and so very appealing. He admired her commitment to being a voice for the victim. Most people would want to bail the second they could. Not Alicia. He liked that about her.

 

***

GUARDIAN, an April 2017 released from Harlequin Love Inspired and Book 1 in the Classified K-9 Unit continuity series, may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harlequin.

 

***

 

About Terri

Terri Reed’s romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publisher’s Weekly top 25, Nielsen’s Bookscan top 100 and featured in USA Today, Christian Fiction Magazine and Romantic Times Magazine and finaled in RWA’s RITA contest, National Reader’s Choice Award contest, ACFW’s The Carol Award contest. Contact Terri at www.terrireed.com or P.O. Box 19555 Portland, OR 97224, and find her on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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