Author Speed Dating – Melissa Keir

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: Melissa Keir

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Picture yourself at an amusement park. Are you the rider on the tallest roller coaster, clamoring for speed; the only adult on the spinning ride with the kids, begging for it to stop; or the bench-sitter, holding the coats and waving?

I love riding on the roller coaster, especially the year I rode the Gemini at Cedar Point ten times in a row before losing my lunch. Luckily, it didn’t stop me from winning the guy’s heart!

2. Name an author whose work you read and still think “I’m not worthy”?

There’s so many. I’ve only recently re-read Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series, and I’m blown away once again.

3. What was genre of the first piece you can remember writing, and how old were you when you penned this masterpiece?

Back in high school typing class, I used to write horror stories involving my friends. Alas, these silly stories will never see the light of day.

4. Are you traditionally published, self-published or a “hybrid” author, and why did you choose that path?

I was published with a variety of small publishing houses, but with the recent market changes, they closed and I went out and self-published my books, adding to the list. I wouldn’t go any other way.

5. Which Star Wars character best describes your personality in regular life? What about on deadline?

In regular life, I’m much like Han Solo—master of my own domain and loving life and an occasional brew. But when I’m on a deadline or when the Internet goes down, I turn into Darth Vader. I set out to crush all those who go against me.

6. Was there ever a time before or after you were published that you considered quitting? If so, how did you convince yourself to try one more time?

Each time a publishing house I was with closed, it was heartbreaking. I felt like it was fate telling me to stop writing, but after one particular event, an author friend suggested I keep writing and suggested submitting to a different place. I did and now have over twenty-five books with my name on them.

7. Celebrities aging beautifully: Mark Harmon or Sean Connery?

Sean Connery- kilt, accent and Bond! What more can I say?

8. Since all writers are readers, name your favorite hero or heroine from a book you’ve read. Has he or she had an impact in how you write the characters in your own books?

Charley Davidson, in the series by Darynda Jones, is amazing. She’s kick butt but also a little neurotic like me. She’s got a hunky supernatural husband and some pretty amazing friends. I’d love to be her, but she hasn’t really influenced my characters.

9. Who was the first person – besides your mom and dad – who told you that you could write? 

My college English professor. She inspired me to write.

10. Do you own at least one purse (or twenty) from a well-known fashion designer, or are you more the bag-to-carry-my-junk-in type?

I’m not a typical girl, no special shoes or handbags. Cheap is better with me—then I can buy more books!

11. Do you belong to a critique group, and how has that membership affected your writing?

I used to. It was great to have someone read through my work and give feedback. But I often found with deadlines, I didn’t have as much time to devote to the critique group so I dropped it. Now I have a good friend who betas for me.

12. What are some of the activities you were participating in when you came up with an idea for a book? (Note: Keep it clean.)

Driving my car, showering, and dreaming/sleeping.

13. Music: Pink or Taylor Swift?

Pink – She’s a little angry, but that’s just the passion coming through. Besides she could kick my behind.

14. Do you write the synopsis before or after you write the manuscript?

After – My story changes as I write sometimes.

15. What is your biggest dream for your writing career? The New York Times bestseller list? A movie deal? Your own island in the Caribbean? All of the above?

Are you giving those away? Sign me up!

***

 

 Broken Vows

By Melissa Keir

 

 

 

The women tied off the horses to a branch of the willow tree a bit away from the pond. She didn’t want them to reach the water. Julie had heard from Jake about how Cherokee tried to roll in the pond to cool off with Angela on his back. She wasn’t in the mood to see it happen face-to-face.

Angela tugged a blanket from the saddlebag and laid it out on the ground in the shade. “With as often as we’re down at the pond, we should consider putting in a picnic table or building a ‘she shed.’” Her smile lit up her face.

“It would be more comfortable than this hard ground.” Julie plopped down on the blanket. “But probably not as conducive to snuggling under the covers.”

Angela raised her brows, but Julie knew all about Angela and Jake’s escapes to the pond. Julie stared at the grass and wished she hadn’t recalled the many stories she’d heard. This pond had become quite the love nest since Angela’s wedding.

“I vote for a bed in the shed. But get it done before the next time Rick comes home.”

“Anything for you.” Angela shoved her shoulder. “I’ll get Jake on it this weekend. Maybe we can come down here together. That man knows how to wear a tool belt.”

“Oh, no. With you down here, the building won’t get done.” She playfully shuddered. “Now I’m going to be stuck with that image of Jake in only a tool belt.”

After laying out the food, Angela dug into the sandwiches. Julie only picked at her plate.

“Hey, why aren’t you eating?”

Julie shrugged. “I’ve had some rough mornings. Ever since Rick left the last time, I have no energy, and eating is the last thing on my mind. Really, food sounds good, but the minute it passes my lips, my stomach recoils.” She pushed her plate away. “Probably stress.”

“Any other problems? Pain?” Angela scrutinized her friend.

“A little pain in my abdomen and across my chest. But I attribute it to the lack of food and all the extra work I’ve been doing in the barn. Without Rick, I’m mucking all the stalls, exercising the horses, and that’s on top of the laundry, cleaning…you know the drill.”

 

***

BROKEN VOWS, Volume 6 in Cowboys of Whisper, Colorado series, was released in May 2017 through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and may be purchased through Amazon.

 

 

 

BROKEN VOWS also may be purchased as part of the COWBOY SIX PACK box set in both print and ebook forms through Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

About Melissa

Melissa Keir doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a book reviewer and owner of a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice – a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature happy endings and is often seen plotting her next story. Find out more about Melissa through her website, www.melissakeir.com, and stay in touch through her Facebook author page, her Facebook social group and through her Amazon author page.

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Linda Bradley

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: Linda Bradley

 

15 Questions

1. Picture yourself at an amusement park. Are you the rider on the tallest roller coaster, clamoring for speed; the only adult on the spinning ride with the kids, begging for it to stop; or the bench-sitter, holding the coats and waving?

I’m on the roller coaster avoiding the spinning teacups! Just thinking about twirling makes me queasy. As a youngster, my friends and I would ride the roller coasters at Cedar Point, then get right back in line to ride them all over again. A few years back, I rode Space Mountain and loved it as much as when I was a teenager.

2. Name an author whose work you read and still think “I’m not worthy”?

LuAnn Rice. Her skill for writing stories centered around loss and tarnished relationships draws me in every time.

3. What was genre of the first piece you can remember writing, and how old were you when you penned this masterpiece?

I wrote and illustrated a picture book titled “Erie” in fourth grade. I still have it, along with the other picture books I wrote in elementary school.

4. Are you traditionally published, self-published or a “hybrid” author, and why did you choose that path?

Hybrid. I published my Montana Bound Series with Soul Mate. This year, I’m venturing outside my comfort zone and self-publishing a Christmas novella.

5. Which Star Wars character best describes your personality in regular life? What about on deadline?

Regular life – Chewbacca. People in my world know I’ve got their backs. I love the way Chewbacca speaks, and like Chewy, I don’t need words to get my point across. On deadline, I’d have to say I’m more like Han Solo. I can get a little testy when I’m focused on reaching my goal. With the hint of sarcasm and a touch of perseverance, eliminating the deadline Death Star is an obtainable goal.

6. Was there ever a time before or after you were published that you considered quitting? If so, how did you convince yourself to try one more time?

I may have been discouraged, but I never thought about quitting.

7. Celebrities aging beautifully: Mark Harmon or Sean Connery?

Sean Connery. I like his Scottish accent.

8. Since all writers are readers, name your favorite hero or heroine from a book you’ve read. Has he or she had an impact in how you write the characters in your own books?

Claire from Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells has stayed with me. Sarah Addison Allen’s sprinkle of magic makes her portrayal of flawed characters’ shine. I’d like to believe someday, my sprinkle of magic will light up the pages, too.

9. Who was the first person – besides your mom and dad – who told you that you could write?  

My high school English teacher, Mr. Hotchkiss. He was old school.  We’d written plays in class. Mine was set in a small town, and I wrote my characters with a drawl. When he returned my work, there was a sparkle in his eye when he told me I had talent. That’s a seed I’ve kept planted for most of my life.  

10. Do you own at least one purse (or twenty) from a well-known fashion designer, or are you more the bag-to-carry-my-junk-in type?

I have a smattering, but my favorite purse is a leather cross-body bag that I purchased in the Denver airport.

11. Do you belong to a critique group, and how has that membership affected your writing?

My critique group has kind of dissipated due to children and hectic schedules, but I do have a writer pal that I use as a go-to when I need input. Love you, Roni!

12. What are some of the activities you were participating in when you came up with an idea for a book? (Note: Keep it clean.)

Not to be grim, but cancer was my catalyst. Writing was a huge part of processing the unknown. I’d had critiques on manuscripts prior to my debut novel MAGGIE’S WAY, but never really knew how to fix the stories. So, I tucked them away, wiped the slate clean, and started anew. That’s when Maggie Abernathy and her gang of misfits popped into my head and never left.

13. Music: Pink or Taylor Swift?

Totally, PINK! Don’t Let Me Get Me. “Sometimes I’m a hazard to myself.”

14. Do you write the synopsis before or after you write the manuscript?

I write my synopsis after I write the manuscript. Not my favorite part of the process. Just saying.

15. What is your biggest dream for your writing career? The New York Times bestseller list? A movie deal? Your own island in the Caribbean? All of the above?

New York Times bestseller list. Movie. Beach house. Another dog.

***

 

Maggie’s Montana

By Linda Bradley

 

 

John’s breath brushed up against my neck. His lips followed. Tension oozed from my shoulders like dripping wax, my guard giving way to the heat. He whispered in my ear, “Let me love you.”

I swallowed the temptation, but it stuck in my throat and lingered at the back of my tongue like bitter sweetness. “I don’t know how.”

Afraid, I prayed again. From under my lashes, I saw a man earnest and true, his eyes fixed on me yet not demanding, something I wasn’t used to. Flecks of passion danced in his irises.

“How the hell do you know what you want?” I asked.

“Because I know,” he said.
His strong hands held my face. His thumbs stroked my cheeks like he was settling a skittish filly. “Let me ask you this, neighbor lady . . .”

“Why do you keep calling that?”

“Does there have to be a reason?” he asked.

“Isn’t there a reason for everything?”

“No. Sometimes things just feel right.” John kissed me as I took in his words, his breath in sync with mine. My stomach rolled over and I let myself kiss him back as if it were the very first time.

 

***

 

MAGGIE’S MONTANA is Book 3 in the Montana Bound Series and an October 2016 release from Soul Mate Publishing. It is available in print and e-book forms and may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

 

***

About Linda

Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her women’s fiction with a thread of romance highlights characters that peel away outer layers of life to discover the heart of their dreams with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Her writing integrates humor found in everyday situations, as well as touching moments that make readers connect with her characters.

Linda has an Associates Degree in Interior Design and a Master’s Degree in Reading and Language Arts with undergraduate work in Elementary Education and Fine Arts. She wrote and illustrated a children’s book titled, THE HUNTER, for her Master’s Degree. Linda is a member of Romance Writers of America as well as the Greater Detroit Chapter of RWA. Her debut novel, MAGGIE’S WAY, was a finalist in the 2016 Greater Detroit Booksellers Best Award and a finalist in the 2016 Summer Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Award.

Linda has two grown sons and lives with her husband and rescue dog in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Stay in touch with Linda through her website, www.lindabradleyauthor.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Carla Cassidy

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: Carla Cassidy

 

 

15 Questions

1. Picture yourself at an amusement park. Are you the rider on the tallest roller coaster, clamoring for speed; the only adult on the spinning ride with the kids, begging for it to stop; or the bench-sitter, holding the coats and waving?

I wouldn’t be at the amusement park at all. These days I get my need for speed satisfied by sitting up too fast in bed. I get a dizzying high trying to remember why I’m in the room I’m in.  And those coats? I’d be wearing all of them because I’m cold all the time!

2. Name an author whose work you read and still think “I’m not worthy”?

Almost every book I read has some element that makes me think that.  For relationships, it’s Nora Roberts. For psychological thrillers, it’s Lisa Gardner, and for heart-pounding suspense, I enjoy Linda Castillo. I also love Dean Koontz, and that’s just to name a few.

3. What was genre of the first piece you can remember writing, and how old were you when you penned this masterpiece?

I was about eight or nine when I discovered Mille the Model comic books. It wasn’t long before I was writing my own adventures for the beautiful New York girl!

4. Are you traditionally published, self-published or a “hybrid” author, and why did you choose that path?

I guess I’m a hybrid author only because I wrote a book that didn’t fit into my publisher’s guidelines and decided to put it up myself. Going forward, I believe I’m going to enjoy being a hybrid author.

5. Which Star Wars character best describes your personality in regular life? What about on deadline?

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never seen a Star Wars movie. I can say I’m fairly driven on and off a deadline.

6. Was there ever a time before or after you were published that you considered quitting? If so, how did you convince yourself to try one more time?

I had been writing short stories and poetry and getting enough rejections to wallpaper a room. I finally decided I’d had enough. I packed up my typewriter (yes, it was that long ago) and took it to the basement. Two days later I got a check in the mail for selling a poem. It was like a sign from God. I shouldn’t give up! That $8.00 check had me rushing back downstairs to get the typewriter. I was meant to be a writer!  

7. Celebrities aging beautifully: Mark Harmon or Sean Connery?

Mark Harmon – be still my heart!

8. Since all writers are readers, name your favorite hero or heroine from a book you’ve read. Has he or she had an impact in how you write the characters in your own books?

I can’t answer this. Through the years I’ve read so many books and met so many wonderful characters, it’s impossible for me to pick one.

9. Who was the first person – besides your mom and dad – who told you that you could write?

Definitely it was my husband.  He encouraged me every step of the way to becoming a published author.

10. Do you own at least one purse (or twenty) from a well-known fashion designer, or are you more the bag-to-carry-my-junk-in type?

Don’t own any designer purses, I’m definitely a bag-to-carry-my-junk type.

11. Do you belong to a critique group, and how has that membership affected your writing?

I don’t belong to a critique group anymore, but I do belong to Mid-American Romance Authors and love the members who are so supportive and fun!

12. What are some of the activities you were participating in when you came up with an idea for a book? (Note: Keep it clean.)

Activities? What’s that?  In the shower is where a lot of my book ideas pop into my head.

13. Music: Pink or Taylor Swift?

Neither. Just give me good old rock and roll!

14. Do you write the synopsis before or after you write the manuscript?

Usually before, but there have been several books that I’ve written first and then written the synopsis afterward.

15. What is your biggest dream for your writing career? The New York Times bestseller list? A movie deal? Your own island in the Caribbean? All of the above?

I don’t care about an island, but I would like to hit the New York Times bestseller list again, and I’d definitely love to land a movie deal.     

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

Killer Cowboy

By Carla Cassidy

 

 

Dillon didn’t plan it, but before he knew it, Cassie was in his arms. As she raised her face he captured her lips with his. She tasted of chocolate and raspberry and white-hot desire, and her body was invitingly warm against his.

She curled into him as if wanting to get as close as possible. He stroked his hand through her springy, soft hair and deepened the kiss.

He finally tore his mouth from hers and peered down at her. “Was that just another mistake?” she asked as she raised a finger to her lower lip.

“Probably,” he replied. “There’s something about you that makes me want more, but I’m not looking for love right now in my life.”

She tilted her head slightly, her gaze curious. “I’m not sure what I’m looking for, either. But then what are we doing?”

“I don’t know,” he confessed.

 

Be sure to check out the next book in this exciting miniseries: Cowboys of Holiday Ranch – where sun, earth and hard work turn men into rugged cowboys…and irresistible heroes!

 

***

 

KILLER COWBOY, a June release from the Harlequin Romantic Suspense line and part of the Cowboys of Holiday Ranch series, may be purchased through these and other retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harlequin.

 

***

About Carla

Carla Cassidy is an award-winning,  New York Times bestselling author of over 150 books.  She loves Mexican food, reality television and writing stories to thrill and chill readers. Stay in touch with Carla through her website, www.carlacassidybooks.com, or through Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Anna Sugden

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: Anna Sugden

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you had the chance for front-row tickets AND backstage passes with any band, past or present, which one would you be jamming with? Explain your choice.

Queen – always regret I never got to see them before Freddie Mercury passed away. They are rock gods, and I think it would be one heck of a party!

2. What is the one thing you wish someone else had told you before you published your first book?

It took me so long to get published that I think I’ve heard it all, and it’s all true! I think what I would tell people is that nothing really changes – you still get rejected when you’re published!

3. Keith Urban or Adam Levine?

Don’t know either of them well enough to choose, though as eye candy … yum!

4. What are your go-to meals for the final week before deadline?

Anything my lovely husband makes for me!

5. Give the title of the first manuscript (published or unpublished) you ever wrote. What was the story about?

“Paws for Love” – about a woman who owned a cattery and hated an arrogant businessman who boarded his cat with her! Included were some fun secondary characters — matchmaking elderly neighbours, a nasty ex- and some precocious cats.

6. Books by George Orwell or Kristin Hannah?

Definitely Kristin Hannah!

7. At which time of day are you more productive as a writer, mornings or nights, and is caffeine a friend or foe?

That’s changed recently – I’ve learned I’m best first thing in the morning (before my mind gets distracted) and last thing at night because I’m a night owl. Friend – especially hot tea with milk (English breakfast – definitely not Earl Grey!) or Coke Zero.

8. Which WIZARD OF OZ character were you most like during your junior high years?

It’s a bit corny, but I was very much a Dorothy – a dreamer, wanting adventures, living vicariously through books, especially romances. I was also a bit of a fish out of water in that I lived in the US (in northern Virginia), because my Dad was in the World Bank, but went to posh boarding school back in England. Two very different cultures and I didn’t really fit in the posh boarding school one. If only I’d had a Toto with me! To this day, I have a split soul that misses the US when I’m living in England and vice versa. I’m lucky enough that I can still get the best of both worlds and consider both countries my home. And there really is no place like my two homes!

9.  In addition to writing, what are your other outlets for your creativity?

I love craft projects – cross stitch, crochet, knitting – as long as they’re not too big.

10. What type of shopper are you: mall rat, online shopper, bargain sleuth, or none of the above?

These days, I’m  more of an online shopper. It’s so easy to click and have things delivered, which you can then try on in the comfort of your own bedroom (and not those horrid communal changing rooms!). The main exception to that is a new pair of shoes – which I may have a bit of a passion for – prefer to do that in a real shop. Plus, most places do free returns now too, so you don’t have the hassle of driving and parking and dealing with the mall crush. We even have our groceries delivered! However, you can’t beat a day pottering around the shops with a girlfriend.

11. Have you ever experienced misgivings as an author, and, if so, what are some of the ways you’ve tried to keep those feelings at bay?

Always – I don’t think there is an author out there who doesn’t. “Am I good enough” haunts us all. My support crew (lovely hubby, dear writer friends, fab agent) boost me through the doubts. But at the end of it, writing is what I enjoy, so I write for myself and try not to worry.

12. Scandal or Pawn Stars?

I haven’t watched either, but Pawn Stars intrigues me.

13. How many books have you published, and how many are still tucked in a drawer somewhere?

Five books and 1 anthology of short stories. As for those “in the drawer” (it’s a virtual drawer – a special file on my computer) probably another 8-10 across contemporary and romantic suspense (my other love).

14. What was the most challenging revision you ever had to make in a manuscript?

All big revisions are challenging! Usually you get good direction as to how your editor wants you to go, but when you get a one line, broad comment, that’s very hard. Finding the perfect beginning for A PERFECT DISTRACTION was probably the hardest to get right – I lost count of the number of different versions. I still have my favourite deleted scene – I should put it up on my website some time!

15. Sure, it’s like picking a favorite child, but which one or two of your titles do you secretly love just a little more?

Ooh mean question!! A PERFECT DISTRACTION will always be special as it was the first book I sold and the one I fought so hard to have published, despite being told repeatedly that sports heroes don’t sell. And who doesn’t love Jake “Bad Boy” Badoletti? <swoon>. A PERFECT TRADE is also special as it features a heroine who used to be a puck bunny. Jenny has had a special place in my heart since she strode into a scene in the first Ice Cats book, and writing her story was tough! But my favourite is one that hasn’t been published … yet. It’s about a Texas cowboy who inherits half of an English sheep farm (and was a two-time Golden Heart finalist). Some day …

***

 

 

 

A Perfect Strategy

 

By Anna Sugden

 

As Sapphie made her way across the room, she spotted Scotty Matthews at the bar, nursing a drink. Sapphie had always had a fan-girl crush on the former Ice Cats captain. Her favorite player since she’d started following the team, he’d been a powerhouse on the ice and, from what she’d heard, a great leader and a mentor in the locker room. He was a nice guy but hard to get to know. She’d seen him at several Ice Cats parties and he’d seemed pretty self-contained. Watching everything, saying little.

She’d found it hard to be her usual chatty self with him. He’d look at her with those serious blue eyes and she’d become tongue-tied. Because she’d never been fazed by a gorgeous man before, she’d assumed it was because he was older than her—in his early forties. Though he’d never said anything overtly disapproving, she’d felt she never quite measured up to his standards.

Tonight he looked lonely.

He’d obviously come to the reception on his own. She’d heard about his divorce last year; hard not to when it had been splashed across the media.

As if he felt her studying him, Scotty looked up and their gazes met.

There was something about the recently retired captain that drew her to him. His dark hair, flecked with gray, was still short, like it had been when he was playing. His tanned face bore the scars of his career. The one that had always fascinated her was the white line that marred his otherwise perfect lips. Left side, near the corner. The result of a high stick—one that hadn’t been penalized—it had taken twenty-five stitches to close the cut.

He gave a half smile, raised his glass to her, then returned his attention to his drink.

Suddenly, she wanted to make that half smile full-blown.

Sapphie sauntered to the bar and settled on the stool next to him. She was pleased to notice him checking out her legs as she crossed them.

“I suppose a dance is out of the question, Captain?” Her question came out slightly husky, giving it an unintentionally sultry note.

***

 

A PERFECT STRATEGY, a February 2017 release from Harlequin Superromance and part of The New Jersey Ice Cats series, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harlequin.

 

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About Anna

A former marketing executive and primary school teacher, award-winning author, Anna Sugden, loves reading and writing happy endings as much as hockey (where she prefers a happy ending for her team)! When she’s not researching hockey players (for her books, of course), she makes craft projects and collects penguins, autographs and memorabilia, and great shoes.

Anna lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and two bossy black cats. Learn more about Anna, her books and her shoes at www.annasugden.com . You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

***

Bonus!

 

 

 

For lovers of The New Jersey Ice Cats series, or those who’d just like to meet the guys,  Anna Sugden offers a collection of bite-sized romances featuring popular players from the series. The anthology is offered for free until the 2017 Stanley Cup is won. Get y0ur copy here.
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Author Speed Dating – Sarah Morgan

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: Sarah Morgan

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you had the chance for front-row tickets AND backstage passes with any band, past or present, which one would you be jamming with? Explain your choice.

Beyoncé! Because she’s Beyoncé. Enough said.

2. What is the one thing you wish someone else had told you before you published your first book?

That being published isn’t the end of the journey.

3. Keith Urban or Adam Levine?

That’s a tough question. Probably Adam Levine.

4. What are your go-to meals for the final week before deadline?

Whatever my husband decides to cook for me 🙂

5. Give the title of the first manuscript (published or unpublished) you ever wrote. What was the story about?

WORTH THE RISK – it was a medical romance, opposites attract, and it was the first book I completed (I had written several partials before that) and the first book that was published.

6. Books by George Orwell or Kristin Hannah?

Kristin Hannah. I love the way she writes about friendship and relationships.

7. At which time of day are you more productive as a writer, mornings or nights, and is caffeine a friend or foe?

I’ve trained myself to be productive whenever I need to be, but I definitely need the help of caffeine.

8. Which WIZARD OF OZ character were you most like during your junior high years?

Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. I used to be good at solving other people’s problems (my own, not so much!)

9.  In addition to writing, what are your other outlets for your creativity?

Photography. I also love music.

10. What type of shopper are you: mall rat, online shopper, bargain sleuth, or none of the above?

Usually online because I don’t plan far enough in advance.

11. Have you ever experienced misgivings as an author, and, if so, what are some of the ways you’ve tried to keep those feelings at bay?

All authors feel doubt at some point. The only cure is to keep writing.

12. Scandal or Pawn Stars?

Scandal.

13. How many books have you published, and how many are still tucked in a drawer somewhere?

I’ve written 82 books, and I don’t have any completed manuscripts in a drawer, just a few stray first chapters that didn’t feel right when I wrote them.

14. What was the most challenging revision you ever had to make in a manuscript?

I can’t remember. Revisions often seem challenging to begin with, but I’ve learned that I need to take a couple of days to let them percolate before attacking the manuscript.

15. Sure, it’s like picking a favorite child, but which one or two of your titles do you secretly love just a little more?

SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW, because it was the first novel I wrote after writing series romance. It marked a change in direction for me, and that book is special to me for that reason.

***

 

 

 

New York, Actually

By Sarah Morgan

 

 

“You don’t need to worry.” He leaned in and lowered his voice. “I promise to be gentle with you.”

“Oh please—did you really just say that?” Because her hand shook, she sloshed tea over her leggings. “Ow!” She sprang to her feet and his smile turned to concern.

“Take them off.”

“You’re not funny.”

“I’m not trying to be funny. I’m serious. Basic first aid for burns. The fabric will carry on burning your leg.”

“I am not removing my pants in the park.” But she tugged the Lycra away from her skin and sure enough the burning eased.

“I’m sorry.” He sounded genuinely contrite.

“Why are you sorry?” She grabbed a handful of napkins and pressed them against her thigh. “I was the one who spilled my tea.”

“But only because I made you nervous.” His voice was soft, his gaze intimate, as if they’d shared something personal.

“You didn’t make me nervous,” she lied. “I’m not used to sexual innuendo this early in the morning. Or men like you. You’re—”

“Cute? Irresistible? Interesting?”

“I was thinking more of annoying, predictable and inappropriate.”

His smile promised fun and sin and a thousand things she didn’t dare think about while she had hot tea in her hand.

“I made you nervous. And flustered. And if I were to analyze you, I’d say you’re a woman who hates to feel either of those things.”

Flustered? Oh yes, she was flustered. Being close to him made her feel light-headed and dizzy. She was agonizingly aware of every single detail, from the dark masculinity of his unshaven jaw, to the wicked glint in his eyes. But beneath the humor was a sharp eye for detail and that worried her more than anything.

She had a feeling he saw far more than people usually did.

It was like hiding in a cupboard and knowing that someone was right outside the door waiting for you to reveal yourself.

And that was closer than she ever let anyone step.

“Thanks for the tea.” She threw the cup away and reached for Valentine’s lead.

“Wait.” He reached out and caught her hand. “Don’t go.”

“I have to work.” It was true, although that wasn’t why she was leaving. She knew it. He knew it. Conversation, a light flirtation—that was all fine. She didn’t want more. “Goodbye, Daniel. Have a great day.” She whistled to Valentine, put him back on his lead and took off through the park without looking back.

Tomorrow she was going to take a different route.

There was no way she was going to risk bumping into Daniel again.

No way.

***

NEW YORK, ACTUALLY, Book 4 in the From Manhattan With Love series, is a May 30, 2017, release from HQN Books. It may be pre-ordered through these and other retailers:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harlequin.

 

***

About Sarah

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and her trademark humor and warmth have gained her fans across the globe. She is a 2-time RITA ® winner, has written more than 80 books and has sold more than 15 million copies globally. Sarah lives near London, England, where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office.

Find out more about Sarah at her website, www.sarahmorgan.com, or follow her through these social-media channels:  Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Lenora Bell

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: Lenora Bell

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you had the chance for front-row tickets AND backstage passes with any band, past or present, which one would you be jamming with? Explain your choice.

Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings – I’m an alt-country girl at heart and their music is so hauntingly poetic and heartfelt.

2. What is the one thing you wish someone else had told you before you published your first book?

Don’t sweat the Goodreads reviews. Seriously – I stopped reading them because my mood would swing with the good and the bad opinions. So I just stopped. I have enough critical voices in my own head.

3. Keith Urban or Adam Levine?

I steer more country than pop, though I do like a man with lots of tattoos, and I’ve been known to have the moves like Jagger while I’m vacuuming.

4. What are your go-to meals for the final week before deadline?

Um, meals? More like grabbing fistfuls of chips and chocolate and washing it all down with wine.

5. Give the title of the first manuscript (published or unpublished) you ever wrote. What was the story about?

I honestly can’t remember the title of my first manuscript, but here’s the elevator pitch: A bad boy opium trader falls for a missionary’s daughter in Victorian-era Shanghai.

6. Books by George Orwell or Kristin Hannah?

I’m going with Orwell. Very relevant for the uncertain times we live in.

7. At which time of day are you more productive as a writer, mornings or nights, and is caffeine a friend or foe?

I’m a night owl and my favorite time to write is after 10pm. Coffee is my BFF, the stronger the better.

8. Which WIZARD OF OZ character were you most like during your junior high years?

I’m going to have to go with Dorothy since I played her in a grade school production of the Wizard of Oz. My family dog, a miniature schnauzer named Pepper, portrayed Toto, to great critical acclaim.

9.  In addition to writing, what are your other outlets for your creativity?

My husband and I are musicians and we like to sing and play instruments together. We’re always hunting for country/rock/jazz/blues on vinyl, and our record collection is getting out of control.

10. What type of shopper are you: mall rat, online shopper, bargain sleuth, or none of the above?

I navigate every city I visit by the location of the thrift and vintage stores because I love hunting for treasures.

11. Have you ever experienced misgivings as an author, and, if so, what are some of the ways you’ve tried to keep those feelings at bay?

I experienced the dreaded second book syndrome. I felt like the book would never get written, would never be good enough, and I’d have to give up writing. I dedicated the book “To all the girls who doubt themselves” because that’s exactly what I was doing. What helped me get through that dark time was the advice of fellow authors who had been through it themselves, and the book BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert.

12. Scandal or Pawn Stars?

Marvel’s The Defenders.

13. How many books have you published, and how many are still tucked in a drawer somewhere?

I’ve published a three-book series, and I have at least four half-finished books and two novellas languishing on my hard drive.

14. What was the most challenging revision you ever had to make in a manuscript?

Book two of my debut series was challenging all around. I had to completely rewrite it twice. Thank heavens my editor, Amanda Bergeron, was so very patient and brilliant. I never would have made it through without her.

15. Sure, it’s like picking a favorite child, but which one or two of your titles do you secretly love just a little more?

My debut novel featured a strong heroine who knew jujitsu and had a tattoo. Not your garden variety Regency heroine, and probably always my favorite.

***

Blame It on the Duke

By Lenora Bell

 

 

“What are you thinking about, Miss Tombs?” Lord Hatherly asked in a deep, sonorous voice that harbored a rumble of amusement.

Alice startled, blushing even harder. “Nothing. Nothing at all.” She struggled to calm her rapid breathing.

Regain your composure this instant, Alice Perpetua Felicity Tombs, she admonished sternly. You don’t want to bed him, you want to bedevil him. Inspire him to leave and never come back.

She was immune to his particular type of decadence. Well, wasn’t she? She risked a sideways glance. No one should have a jaw so chiseled or eyes so silver. It made her almost angry how handsome he was.

His appearance is the only agreeable thing about him, and he can’t take credit for what God gave him. Be rid of him quickly and thoroughly.

She must marshal her thoughts to order. Lead the charge. Hunt the hunter.

“Now then, Dimples,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me the real reason you don’t wish to marry.”

Had he just called her Dimples?

He was definitely going down in flames.

 

***

BLAME IT ON THE DUKE, Book #3 in the Disgraceful Dukes series and an April 2017 release from Avon Books, may be purchased through these and other retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harper Collins.

***

About Lenora

Lenora Bell grew up in a small Alaskan town by the ocean that still has no traffic lights or fast food. An English teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing, she travels the globe using music to bring smiles to classrooms. She currently lives in the Midwest with her carpenter husband and two naughty tiger-striped kitties. In 2014, she won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award for Best Historical, and her first Regency romance was published by Avon Books in 2016. Stay in touch with Lenora through her website, www.lenorabell.com, or through these social-media channels: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Cheryl Ann 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: Cheryl Ann Smith

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you had the chance for front-row tickets AND backstage passes with any band, past or present, which one would you be jamming with? Explain your choice.

Since I’m a smidge older, I’d say Journey or Chicago. I love classic rock. Although I do like current stuff, I always go back to the bands I grew up with, crank up the sound, and sing at the top of my lungs. Who cares what the guy in the car next to me thinks!

2. What is the one thing you wish someone else had told you before you published your first book?

I’d have wanted to know the truth about publishing. It’s not easy and only a small percentage of authors sell their first book and become an instant success. But it’s also fun and fabulous. I’d tell new authors to enjoy the ride!

3. Keith Urban or Adam Levine?

Adam Levine. He was a nerd in high school and now he’s hot. Seriously, Google young Adam Levine.  We like to see heroes and heroines grow and change, and Adam did that in his real life. Besides, he fits my bad boy criteria!  

4. What are your go-to meals for the final week before deadline?

I’ll cook anything easy, like simple pasta meals, or if I’m stressed, I let my hubby and son fend for themselves. Google is perfect for finding recipes that don’t take much time to fix. As long as I don’t give my family e coli bacteria as a side dish, they’ll eat almost anything.

5. Give the title of the first manuscript (published or unpublished) you ever wrote. What was the story about?

My first book was “Catherine’s Choice”, a historical western. It started from a horse’s point of view (yes, true!). The hero and heroine spent most of the book hunting down bad guys and fooling around. It was really long, thin on plot, and never sold. But it started my love of storytelling.

6. Books by George Orwell or Kristin Hannah?

Sorry George, but I’d have to say Kristin. I do love books of all kinds, but I head for romances (or thrillers) for escape reads. And if the book makes me laugh, I’m all in!

7. At which time of day are you more productive as a writer, mornings or nights, and is caffeine a friend or foe?

I’m an early riser. Sometimes too early. The best time for me to write is when the house is quiet and nothing breaks my writing flow. I immerse in the setting and the characters and hate interruptions, so I work when my family is sleeping. The rest of the day is family time and for doing other things. I’m almost 100% a water drinker, so no caffeine.  Thankfully, I can write when in a sleep-deprived coma!

8. Which WIZARD OF OZ character were you most like during your junior high years?

I’d have to say I presented most like sweet and shy Dorothy, but I was feisty beneath my little blue checked dress and lacy socks. I crushed on the pre-teen bad boys and wanted to marry Elvis. Other than growing up and liking bad boys who are old enough to shave and buy beer, nothing has changed!

9.  In addition to writing, what are your other outlets for your creativity?

I can’t paint or sew more than a straight hem, so those are out. I’m a geek for old stuff and like to use vintage in decorating, so that gets my creativity going.  For example, my front porch is a fun mix of wood and metal flower planters.  If there is a garage or estate sale near my house, I’m there.

10. What type of shopper are you: mall rat, online shopper, bargain sleuth, or none of the above?

Getting a bargain is the best. I shop at the mall for clothes as I won’t buy anything without trying it on. Cute on the rack doesn’t mean cute on my post-three-kids body. Yes, I am an online shopper, too, mostly books, and I impulse purchased a set of vintage car bookends a few weeks ago on eBay. Love them. 

11. Have you ever experienced misgivings as an author, and, if so, what are some of the ways you’ve tried to keep those feelings at bay?

It took me 17 years to sell a book, so I had a lot of self-doubt. Fortunately, I’m stubborn and couldn’t give up my dream. I hoped that if I kept writing, eventually I’d get a story that would interest someone. When it finally happened, I think I appreciated it more than if I’d sold too early before I knew what I was doing, how to craft a book, and how to build a career.

12. Scandal or Pawn Stars?

Pawn Stars. I love junk that turns into treasures. Antiques Road Show is so fun to watch. 

13. How many books have you published, and how many are still tucked in a drawer somewhere?

Right now I have 8 novels, 1 novella, and 2 short stories out. Another book in my Brash and Brazen series comes out in November. I’ve also pitched a new series and am waiting to hear. There are 5 or 6 full manuscripts and lots of partials languishing in my computer and files. I could probably paper my bathroom in rejection letters.

14. What was the most challenging revision you ever had to make in a manuscript?

I briefly wrote for a small press. I think the editor wanted to write the book herself. She wanted nearly everything changed. My agent had to talk me off the ledge outside my second floor office. Thankfully, she did because I’d have had to revise the book while riddled with broken bones and a body cast. Two stories isn’t high enough up! Seriously though, I’ve never had revisions like that. It was crazy. 

15. Sure, it’s like picking a favorite child, but which one or two of your titles do you secretly love just a little more?

Although I have newer books in my Brash and Brazen series that I’d consider favorites, I’d have to say my first published book, THE SCHOOL FOR BRIDES, holds a special place for me. How could I not love the book that made me a published author? 

 

***

 

 

 

 

The Sweetheart Kiss

 

By Cheryl Ann Smith

 

There was one thing guaranteed to get Jess Lucas through a wedding that she didn’t want to be in, with a bride she intensely disliked, and a headache that had spiked through her skull the moment she slipped the hideous bridesmaid dress over her head: Alcohol.

The crystal clear liquid called to her with a sweet siren song from within the bottom of her oversized tote bag.

There had been speculation among her friends that Amelia Earhart — and aircraft — could be found in the tote along with Bigfoot and extinct dodo birds, if the right team of explorers took on the search. Laying that rumor to rest would have to wait until she finished soaking her throbbing brain with fermented potatoes and ethanol.

Jess was certain a quick dash into the changing room wouldn’t be noticed as the groom hadn’t yet taken his position at the altar. Maybe the clueless sap had wised up and was now making a run for the Ohio border.

No luck. She caught a glimpse of him talking to the minister and smiling. She didn’t know him well, but felt sorry for the guy. He was so dumbstruck by love that he couldn’t see past the big teeth and enhanced breasts to the character within his future wife.

But that wasn’t Jess’s problem. The ceremony was not to start for three minutes and she was quick, despite a slight buzz from previous liquor shots. Without any impediments to block her path, she could get to the bride’s room, down the 1.5 ounces of vodka left from a raid on the minibar during a trip to Vegas last summer, and be back in line before anyone noticed her missing. She just had to shake off groomsman number three.

She’d brought a variety six pack of those little booze bottles, knowing that in order to survive the wedding of Mandy Mae Smith — soon to be Jones — she’d need liquid courage.

Not much of a drinker, she’d managed to chug three bottles already, but her duties had kept her from the fourth.

The white crinoline along the bodice of the wide fifties-prom-dress-inspired bridesmaid dress was already rubbing off the top layer of skin on her left arm pit. By the time the evening came to a thank-God-it’s-over close, she intended to be ripping drunk and naked with a groomsman in a vestibule closet somewhere. After all, wasn’t a single woman entitled to be cliché at least once in her life?

“Ready?”

“Er, what?” Jess looked way up at tall groomsman number three, Dodger Drake. Yes, that was his name. His fake tanned orange face grinned down from a foot above her, his teeth so white that she became convinced he ate, slept, and probably had sex while wearing teeth whitening trays.

“It’s time to line up,” Dodger said and his gaze dipped unapologetically to her modest cleavage pushed up under her chin by the bone-corset bodice of the dress.

 

***

THE SWEETHEART KISS, Book 3 in the Brash & Brazen trilogy and a May 2017 release from Kensington Lyrical Press, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Kensington.

 

***

About Cheryl Ann

A fan of romance fiction since the dark ages, author Cheryl Ann Smith loves to throw her heroines into danger, just to see what they’ll do.  She’s currently working on an exciting a new contemporary romance series that mixes her crazy sense of humor with the adventures of a trio of female PI’s, who are the kick-ass heroines Cheryl has always wanted to be.

Cheryl lives in Michigan with her family, and when she isn’t writing, she dreams of living in a grass hut on her own tropical island. Since that’s unlikely to happen, she looks forward to any vacation that gets her near an ocean.  If you’d like to learn more about Cheryl or her books, you can visit her website at www.cherylannsmith.com, or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Shelley Coriell

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: Shelley Coriell

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you had the chance for front-row tickets AND backstage passes with any band, past or present, which one would you be jamming with? Explain your choice.

The Bangles, Destiny’s Child, or the Supremes. As the mother of three daughters and the author of books about “strong women of ALL ages”, I’m all about Girl Power.

2. What is the one thing you wish someone else had told you before you published your first book?

That I wasn’t a writer but a storyteller. It took me a few books to fully understand that the words I put on the page and characters I pull from my heart are not mine. They belong to my readers who complete the storytelling process. In other words, my books mean nothing without readers.

3. Keith Urban or Adam Levine?

Adam Levine, mostly because I adore the movie, Begin Again. Great music, fascinating characters, and a triumphant story of art and the artist.

4. What are your go-to meals for the final week before deadline?

Green smoothies for the win! I’ll boost them with hemp, flax, or chia seeds and mix up texture and taste with everything from avocado and mango to cucumber and ginger. 

5. Give the title of the first manuscript (published or unpublished) you ever wrote. What was the story about?

The Popularity Game, a 50,000-word YA novel about a nerdy honors student who finds herself transformed into one of the highest rollers in her high school’s “popularity game.” My tagline for this Cinderella story read, “Games are not a reality. They are play. There are make-believe. And in make believe, no one really gets hurt.” Makes me cringe now.

6. Books by George Orwell or Kristin Hannah?

Kristin Hannah. THE NIGHTINGALE was one of the few novels I’ve read in the past two decades where I literally got lost in a story. I even remember the exact line in chapter one that captured my heart and wouldn’t let go: “The stairs unfolded from the ceiling like a gentleman extending his hand.” (Catch me while I swoon, okay?)

7. At which time of day are you more productive as a writer, mornings or nights, and is caffeine a friend or foe?

Morning glory, here. I do yoga, walk, and prep meals all before 6 a.m. With my head and body engaged, I’m ready to write. Don’t be too impressed. I’m toast by late afternoon. I once told one of my daughters who needed help with homework, “I don’t do math after 5 p.m.”

8. Which WIZARD OF OZ character were you most like during your junior high years?

Junior high? Um, no. Let’s not talk about that.

9.  In addition to writing, what are your other outlets for your creativity?

Cooking and, more recently, gardening. There’s a surprising amount of creativity required in gardening, like what to do with sixteen heads of cauliflower that ripen at the same time.

10. What type of shopper are you: mall rat, online shopper, bargain sleuth, or none of the above?

I’m an aspiring minimalist, so I don’t do much shopping. My goal: to live more with less. Right now I own about 100 pieces of clothing, including shoes. Light feels so good!

11. Have you ever experienced misgivings as an author, and, if so, what are some of the ways you’ve tried to keep those feelings at bay?

An agent once told me to make a manuscript “perfect”. This advice sent me into a tailspin. After a period of angst and un-productivity, I realized there is no such thing as the perfect word, perfect turn of phrase, or perfect execution of story. What seemed “perfect” one day didn’t cut it the next. I learned that I must stop tinkering, put the story out there, and celebrate.

12. Scandal or Pawn Stars?

Neither. I don’t watch much TV.

13. How many books have you published, and how many are still tucked in a drawer somewhere?

Eight books published, including two young adult books, three romantic thrillers, and three mysteries. In a perfect world, I’d stick with one genre, but my heart tells me otherwise. Books in the dungeon: six. I’m fairly certain a few of those beasts will eventually see the light of day.

14. What was the most challenging revision you ever had to make in a manuscript?

Developmental edits on my third Apostle book, THE BLIND. In THE BLIND, my heroine Evie Jimenez, a fierce and feisty FBI bombs and weapons specialist, tracks down a serial bomber. My beloved Evie was such a strong, fascinating woman, that she took over the story.  The hero appeared in only about one quarter of the book. Not good considering this was a romance! 

15. Sure, it’s like picking a favorite child, but which one or two of your titles do you secretly love just a little more?

I can’t pick a favorite book, but I can pick a few favorite characters. Favorite villain: The Gravedigger, the serial killer from my romantic thriller, THE BURIED. This villain’s backstory was so heart-breaking that I cried when I learned what turned this particular character into a killer. Favorite heroine: Det. Lottie King from my latest mystery series. Lottie is a hard-nosed homicide detective and a soft-hearted Grandma. She showed up in one of my Apostle thrillers and would not shut up. I finally gave her her own series, which I lovingly call my “Grandma with a Gun Mysteries“.

***

 

New Shoes: Detective Lottie King Short Stories Vol. 2

By Shelley Coriell

 

 

Lottie reached for the shoe box on the top shelf. One shoe tumbled toward her; the other fell behind the shelves.

“Don’t even think about trying to escape,” Lottie told the runaway shoe. “I used to catch serial killers for a living.” She nudged the wood with her hip, inching the shelf away from the old brick wall. She jabbed her foot at the sandal. Wood dug into hip. Rough brick bit into her butt. Her toes stretched and strained. Closer. Closer. Her big toe brushed the sandal strap. Just another half inch and—

Shelves groaned. Wood split. Shoe boxes trembled.

Lottie jumped back just as the shelves careened forward. Bricks loosened and fell to the ground. Shoe boxes rained down on her head and shoulders. The unit crashed to the floor, a cloud of dust and grit peppering Lottie.

“Oh, dear,” the shoe store clerk called out. “Would you like a hand?”

Lottie waved away the dust then froze. “Looks like I already got one.”

For poking out of one of the holes in the old brick wall was a human hand.

***

A 2016 release from White Pear Press, NEW SHOES: DETECTIVE LOTTIE KING SHORT STORIES VOL. 2, may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

***

About Shelley

Shelley Coriell is an award-winning author of mysteries, romantic thrillers, and novels for teens. Her debut thriller was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of the Year, and her other novels have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Best Paperback Original of the Year from the International Thriller Writers, and a Kirkus Recommended Read. A former magazine editor and restaurant reviewer, Shelley lives in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue Weimaraner. You can find her at www.shelleycoriell.com or connect with her through these social-media channels: Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

 

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The Obituary: A Reflection

Thanksgiving 2014

On this, the first anniversary of my father’s passing, I am sharing an essay I wrote on the flight home after what I thought would be the last time I ever saw him. While waiting for the plane to reach cruising altitude so I could use my laptop, I started scribbling in a little spiral notebook, and I just couldn’t stop. Once the piece was written, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Put it away? Publish it somewhere? I couldn’t decide. It was so personal. But as we completed this year of firsts – first Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter without Dad – and approached this solemn anniversary, I realized I was ready to share these words. I’m sure so many of you will be able to relate to my experience of love and loss.

 

 

The Obituary

By Dana Corbit Nussio

Feb. 16, 2016

Feb. 13, 2016

I wrote my dad’s obituary last night. Even saying it now sounds strange. Wrong. After all, he’s still very much alive. I kissed him good-bye only twenty-five hours ago. He was walking slowly, carefully, but under his own power, as he pushed that rolling walker down the hall of his assisted living facility toward a dinner he would probably enjoy but wouldn’t really taste or be able to recall tomorrow.

I kissed him good-bye twice, I remember now, once in his tiny apartment that was really just a bedroom and once in that circular main area near the dining room. That place where some of the women gather every time I visit, none of them talking to each other.  Just waiting and watching for guests who never come. I could feel their curious gazes on me as I crossed the room to him and reached out for one more kiss on that stubble-roughened cheek. One more chance to say “I love you.” Not caring if all of them heard me say it but praying he would since he seldom hears me now when he can’t read my lips.

I squeezed his frail shoulders once, not too tightly, and then let go because I had to, turning away quickly so he couldn’t see the tears in my eyes. Even though it might have been the last time I ever hugged him.

I wrote my dad’s obituary last night. I know that’s the same for everyone, though the order of events is fluid. There are no guarantees of a tomorrow for any of us. But for Dad, the promise of many sunrises and sunsets is becoming as weak as his lungs. Cancer inside them is pillaging any remaining healthy tissue, killing him, breath by labored breath. My sister is in Tennessee watching the whole sad process and doing most of the work, while I’m three states away, filled with guilt because I can’t be there.

My daddy. Was yesterday the last time I’ll ever see him? Ever see that spark of humor in his eyes? Hear him tell me he’s proud of me when I’ve been misguidedly chasing his approval most of my life.

c. 1985

He left a touch of his cologne on my coat. I remember that now from my seat at thirty-six-thousand feet, the “Fasten Seatbelts” sign lit above me, the sunset bleeding orange over the western horizon outside my window. I grab my coat from the empty seat next to me.  I sniff at the collar. And sniff. Can I still smell him there? Is the mark of the first man who ever cradled me in his arms, the first man I ever loved, still there? I don’t know. I’m not sure. Is it really there, or am I just willing it to be?

Desperate, I inhale once more, hoping to catch a lingering whiff of my childhood, memories probably edited to make them a little less sad for those who read my stories. For myself as well. I recall them with a child-like innocence that a writer must conjure, just like the characters born in my mind.  Deleting some of the less pleasant moments for my own sake.

1990

I wrote my dad’s obituary last night. A simple recollection of an ordinary life that will be remembered without fanfare by precious few except his two daughters, the very people he hurt sometimes, but loved the best he could. The abbreviated notice doesn’t even contain the whole story. The twists and re-directions. The lifelong battle with demons inside twelve-ounce cans and tissue-searing packs of twenty. The arrivals and departures of stepmothers and step-siblings. Promises made and broken like the twist of a turnstile. Even one tragic passing in that awkward chasm of divorce.

Those are the things I couldn’t tell inside that formulaic collection of words I’d written for so many strangers during my newspaper-reporter days. Were the obituaries I wrote for those other people as empty as this one, just as devoid of the truth in the lives they recorded? I’m not sure, but I know these are the true puzzle pieces that marked my father’s life. And my sister’s. And mine.

I wrote my dad’s obituary last night. I wrote it, but I won’t show it to him, though it is perfectly pleasant and sterile and kind. Unless he asks. And he’s not asking a lot of questions right now, except how his body will be transported back to Kokomo, Indiana, for burial. To the city where a scared little boy and his family made that journey from Arkansas for work some sixty years ago. To the place where he lived most of his life and to the cemetery spot next to his late wife and where the unofficial plot of all our relatives looks like a family reunion.

I wrote my dad’s obituary last night. After promising him I would be there to see him when I could get off work again in seven weeks. And after making hotel reservations that were guaranteed refundable, just in case. He counted the weeks on his fingers against his two-month predicted death sentence, considered for a few long seconds and then shrugged.

“I plan to still be here,” he said with a small smile.

I hope so, Dad. I hope so.

***

I was blessed to have one last visit with my father before he passed away. It felt like a gift, and it was. 

Still missing you, Dad. See you soon!

 

James O. Corbit – 9/10/37- 4/30/16

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Jennifer Lohmann

 

 

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: Jennifer Lohmann

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. If Disney made an animated movie about you as Princess Jennifer, which Disney hero would you choose as your Prince?

Does Robin Hood count as a prince? That was always my favorite Disney movie.

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

I’ve only written contemporary romances. While I love romance and writing about the developing relationship, what I really love is examining about a woman’s relationship with herself and the modern world.

3. Denzel Washington or Leonardo DiCaprio?

Denzel, every time.

4. What is one of the biggest risks you’ve taken as a writer?

I enjoy writing about women who’ve made serious personal mistakes in their past that have lasting consequences which they can’t escape, which include Renia Milek in THE FIRST MOVE, who gave a baby up for adoption when she was sixteen; Ruby Heart from WINNING RUBY HEART, who doped during the Olympics and had a gold medal taken away; and Mina Clements from LOVE ON HER TERMS, who believed a guy who said, “It’ll be okay, baby,” didn’t use a condom, and got HIV. Each of those books include sharp, emotional, and often painful moments that aren’t easy to read and could turn a reader off. But they make me a stronger writer, and the books are better for them.

5. 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.

CORNELIA’S HONOR by Lois McMaster Bujold. I turn to that book in moments of personal crisis, and, if I’m limited to one suitcase, it’s probably because there’s a moment of personal crisis happening.  As for my book? WINNING RUBY HEART. I wrote that book after my divorce, and it’s the book that most speaks to me coming into my own after a personal crisis.

6. How many rejections did you receive before you sold your first book, and what did you learn from them?

Don’t hate me, but zero. I’ve had rejections since, but not the first one. I sold it during “So You Think You Can Write”, Harlequin’s big writing contest. RESERVATIONS FOR TWO was my first book.

7. For your social-media fix, do you prefer crazy cat videos or trivia quizzes on ’80s movies and Biblical characters?

I’m a librarian, so cat videos all day, every day. Did I mention that I have three cats?

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

Ohhhh…interesting question. Mina Clements from LOVE ON HER TERMS is outgoing and can draw. I’d love to be able to make small talk with strangers and draw anything more complicated than a stick figure. But Ruby Heart from WINNING RUBY HEART is an amazing athlete, something I’ve never been.  But I’m pretty happy where I’m at.

9. Perfect outfit: cowboy hat and boots or sundress and sandals?

Sundress and sandals, preferably retro.

10. Are you a pantser or a plotter in your writing, and have you always written this way, or have you changed methods throughout your career?

Team Pantser for the win!

11. What is your most ridiculous fear, and what have you done to challenge it?

If we’re going for ridiculous, I was once looking at a black mamba snake through a glass window in a serpentarium during a bad thunderstorm. I had a very brief moment of heart-stopping panic as I imagined that there would be a tornado. The glass would break and I’d die of a black mamba bite in Wilmington, North Carolina. I’m not actually afraid of snakes. Or storms.

On the serious side, I’m afraid of needles. I hate it, but I give blood a couple times a year to face my fear.

12. What are some of the activities you’ve participated in, people you’ve interviewed or places you’ve visited to do research for one of your books?

I did a lot of comic book drawing for LOVE ON HER TERMS and took a citizen’s police academy for A SOUTHERN PROMISE. And, of course, I go skiing every winter. 😊

13. Name the strangest snack or food combination you love to eat when no one is watching.

Goldfish and Thin Mints. Mmmm….good.

14. Faith Hill or Lady Gaga?

Lady Gaga.

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

Defend your writing time.

 

***

 

 

Love on Her Terms

By Jennifer Lohmann

 

 

Mina had met all of her neighbors except one. Given how rarely she saw him outside, it seemed like he was determined she not meet him or even lay eyes on him.

Still, she wasn’t used to not knowing her neighbors. Even in graduate school she’d made a point to meet all the people in her apartment building at least once. That way, she figured, even if they avoided her for the rest of their shared time in Chicago, they would be able to tell the paramedics her name if she were found gravely injured on the sidewalk outside the building.

Though how she would have managed being gravely injured on the sidewalk outside her apartment after being hit by a train was still a mystery.

Mina smiled as she crossed the property boundary. A death worthy of Anna Karenina was ridiculous, which was part of the pleasure of thinking about it. She was going to die from something prosaic and boring. A cold that turned into pneumonia. An allergic reaction. Basically, her own body turning against her. Nothing as spectacular as throwing oneself in front of a train after the betrayal of a lover.

She knocked on the door and almost laughed when her neighbor opened it, a death glare on his face that he didn’t even try to hide as he said, “Yes.”

Fortunately, death held little fear for her. It never had. Not even when in the form of a man who stood a head, a neck and a chest taller than her. Every other time she’d seen her neighbor, his black hair had been slicked back against his head, but this morning it was loose about his face, with locks hanging over his eyes. He obviously hadn’t shaven since yesterday at least, and maybe since the day before. One day, once her garden was put in and her bathroom redone, she’d make a study of his facial hair.

Today, she stuck her hand into the void between them, a desperate cover for wanting to push his hair out of his eyes. “I’m Mina. I moved in next door a couple weeks ago and wanted to introduce myself.”

His eyes were a surprisingly light brown, given how dark his hair was. She noticed this as she realized her hand…still hung in the air. She had offered him a strong handshake, like her dad had taught her. No weak wrists. People judged you on your handshake.

Or most people did. Her neighbor might never shake her hand, and he wouldn’t know that she’d practiced her handshake with strangers since she was five.

She was about to give up when his calloused hand slid into hers and gripped tightly enough that her knees went weak in the best possible way.

“Levi,” he said, his voice deep with sleep.

It seemed his dad had taught him to have a good handshake, too. His grip revealed shapely forearms with just a hint of vein under the skin. Enough that Mina wanted to see more. More forearms. More biceps.

More everything of her neighbor.

 ***

LOVE ON HER TERMS, an August 2016 release from Harlequin Superroomance, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Harlequin, iBooks and Kobo.

 

***

 

About Jennifer

Jennifer Lohmann is a Rocky Mountain girl at heart, having grown up in southern Idaho and Salt Lake City. She’s always been a reader–of romance novels, mysteries, nonfiction, cereal boxes, etc. If it had words, she tried to read it. Jennifer had been writing, on and off, for many years when she won the Romance Writers of America Librarian of the Year award in 2010. Being at the RWA conference reminded her how much she loved writing, and she became more serious about it. As part of Harlequin’s “So You Think You Can Write” Contest, she was offered a contract on her first book in 2012. She lives in the Southeast with her own personal Viking hero, three cats, two teenage stepchildren, and a boa constrictor. Visit her at jenniferlohmann.com and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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