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 – Stella MacLean

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: Stella MacLean

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 the only rider on the spinning ride with the kids, cowering in the seat while screaming louder than the kids for the spinning to stop.

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

Easy question. Kristin Hannah. I read her books and wonder why I can’t be more like her—even for one of my books. She’s such a great storyteller.

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

I wrote a story about visiting my grandmother. I was eleven, and I loved her pantry that contained a cookie jar always filled with sugar cookies. To this day, I close my eyes, and I can smell that tiny space with its baking pans and along with all the ingredients needed to make bread, rolls, cookies and cakes.

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

I’m a “hybrid”. I started out with Harlequin, and in between contracts, I published three indie books. Both have their challenges, and both are fun to do.

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

I like to think I’m a clone of Obi-Wan Kenobi. When on a deadline, I’m the perfect match to Anakin Skywalker.

6a. Was there ever a time before or after you were published that you considered quitting?

After a really bad rejection letter, a heartbreaking epistle from a long-ago editor that nearly crushed me, I felt there wasn’t any point continuing if I was really that bad. 

6b. If so, how did you convince yourself to try one more time?

If so, how did you convince yourself to try one more time? I didn’t. I got a cat, a beautiful Maine Coon cat named Emma, and I pouted for about a month.

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

I have a confession to make. I LOVE Mark Harmon at any age. I named my latest cat after his NCIS character—Leroy Jethro Gibbs. I have watched every episode of NCIS at least three times. What can I say? I’m addicted.

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?

For me, it’s always been GONE WITH THE WIND. I have an early edition of the book that belonged to my Aunt Doris. And my favorite character is Rhett Butler. There’s a little Rhett in all my heroes. There is something so essentially male about Rhett, a quality I’ve been trying to capture in each of my books.

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

I don’t remember anyone telling me I could write. I just remember always wanting to write, and then life intervened and offered me the opportunity.

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 22 purses, but if you tell anyone….

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

I belonged to a critique group many years ago, but I found I was trying to follow everyone’s advice and losing the story I had in my head. An editor kindly pointed that fact out to me when I sent her my manuscript that had been the product of being in a critique group.

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.)

I was a newbie nursing supervisor, my first shift on the job when, due to a paper work mix up, it appeared that I had lost a body in the morgue. That was the beginning of UNIMAGINABLE, my first book in my women-in-danger series.

13. Music: Pink or Taylor Swift?

Without involving myself in the ongoing “discussion” between Taylor and Katy, can I say Katy Perry?

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

I always write a detailed synopsis before I start. I like having a story map as I call it.

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?

Definitely all of the above. My personal philosophy is that if you’re going to dream, make it a big one.

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unexpected Attraction

By Stella MacLean

 

 

 

 

Andrea soaked in Jake’s touch, feeling calmed. “A few days ago I would have yelled at you instead of saying what I felt.”

“You should give yourself credit for your honesty about how you feel. You could have stopped me from asking questions. I have no right to be invading your personal life.”

Surprised and pleased by his comments, she faced him. “While we’re on the subject of behavior, I want to ask something. How did you cope with your sisters as teenagers and not remember how moody they can be?”

“I remember quite well how unpredictable they could be,” he said, his gaze on her, unnerving her.

“Can we call a truce?” she asked, leaning closer, absorbing his scent.

“I didn’t know we needed one.”

“Let’s not talk about problems, please.”

He touched her hair, ran his fingers along her cheek. “Excellent suggestion,” he whispered, his lips moving slowly, purposefully along her chin to her mouth. He kissed her, wrapping her in his embrace.

Lost in his arms, she clung to him, never wanting this moment to end.

His kiss so gentle yet so possessive, had opened up a whole new world. She felt different in a way she couldn’t describe. As he stroked her cheek and looked into her eyes, she knew she would remember this moment long after today.

“We probably should get going,” he said, still holding her close.

His touch distracted her, and she struggled to answer. “I suppose so.”

She could still feel his lips on hers as he loaded the trunk. She’d never been kissed the way he kissed her. Never with such care and tenderness. She felt adrift in a place of beautiful sensation.

She was finely attuned to him—his easy grace as he moved to open the car door for her, his confidence, his patient acceptance. It all held her spellbound. As if in a trance, she got in and fastened her seat belt. The feeling of intimacy in the narrow space after he climbed in swept all worries and troubles from her mind….

 

***

UNEXPECTED ATTRACTION, a June 2017 release from Harlequin Superromance, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harlequin.

 

***

About Stella

Stella MacLean loves creating contemporary romances in which the characters find love and fulfillment while learning to live in the moment. She draws her story ideas from her life as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend, and from her professional background as a nurse and accountant. Stella is an avid gardener, taking great pleasure from digging in the dirt and watching seeds she has planted add beauty and grace to her gardens.  Stay in touch with Stella through her website, www.stellamaclean.com, or on 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.

 

***

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.

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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 – 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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Author Speed Dating – Heatherly 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: Heatherly Bell

 

15 Questions

1. 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: Michelle Williams. Likely: Lucille Ball.

2. What are some of the things that have changed in the publishing industry since your first book was published?

Eleventy million little things; the combined list on the New York Times is just the latest thing.

3. Us Weekly or Newsweek?

Us Weekly.

4. As a reader, do you sneak a peek at the end of the book, or do you make yourself wait for answers until the very end?

The only time I’ve done this if I’m not reading a romance novel, where I’m guaranteed an HEA. Then I want to peek ahead and find out (and prepare myself) if I’m going to be crushed.

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

Yes, definitely my heroines with the best clothes and fashion sense…I’d like to borrow stuff from their closet, or at least their shoes.

 6. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which others do you plan to add to the list in the next two years?

Contemporary and inspirational. If I ever find the time, I’d be interested in writing a contemporary YA or maybe some Women’s Fiction. Someday.

7. Brad Pitt or David Beckham?

Brad Pitt.

8. 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?

FOREVER WITH YOU, a first-love reunion story with a Marine hero, for a feel-good ride. (You’ve been through a hard time.)

9. Do you have a green thumb or black one, and, either way, how are you gearing up for spring planting season?

Black. I’m gearing up for the spring planting season by watching The Bachelor.

10. When and how did you first decide you wanted to be an author?

I wanted to be an author “someday” from the time I was in my high school English class and we had an assignment to write a short story.

11. Antique Roadshow or Law & Order: SVU?

SVU!

12. What is your favorite song of all time, and what do you do when it comes on the radio or when you stream it?

Having been in music for decades, asking me to pick my favorite song is like asking me to pick my favorite child. I can tell you that when Bruno Mars comes on with “Uptown Funk”, I want to drop everything and dance!

13. What do you believe is your biggest strength as a writer, and what has been your approach to tackling some of your weaknesses?

Dialogue is a strength, I’m told, and I’m trying to tackle my plotting issues with a more detailed plan and road map. Good luck to me.

14. Regarding board games, Scrabble or Left, Right, Center?

Scrabble.

15. What is your biggest hope for a reader when she opens one of your books?

I hope she’s able to escape for a while into a believable, but light-hearted world in which everything is possible.

 

 ***

Airman to the Rescue

By Heatherly Bell

 

 

 

SARAH STUMBLED INTO the now dark living room, and found Matt lying on the couch, Shackles curled up at his feet. Through the sliver of moonlight shining through the window, she could make out that he had his shirt off, a pillow over his face. As if she’d given him a headache.

Wait until she got going. “Matt.”

Under his pillow, she heard him groan.

“What’s going on here?” She stood hands on hips and then decided that looked too accusatory for seduction, so she relaxed her arms at her sides.

“Go to sleep, Sarah.”

“No.”

He lifted the pillow from his face, one eye open. “I don’t want to argue with you.”
“I don’t want to argue, either. I just want you to tell me what happened tonight.”

“Guess if you don’t know, I must not have done it right.”

“You did everything right.” Her voice softened. Now that she faced this—thing—between them her mouth was parched and dry. But she couldn’t lose her nerve now. “The only thing you did wrong was stop.”

“Wasn’t my choice.”

“But now it is.”

He didn’t move. “Go to sleep. Please.”

“Well, since you said please.”

“Seriously? That’s all it takes?”

“No. I lied. I’ll go to sleep, but not until you hear me out. I might be Stone’s sister, but I’m also a grown woman and I know what I want.”

“What do you want? Because I thought you wanted to fix this house and flip it. Sell it so you can get back to Colorado.”

Couldn’t a woman want more than one thing? “I want you, Matt. That’s what I want.”

“Do you? Be careful what you’re asking for. Maybe you don’t know me as well as you think you do.”

“I know enough. I know you’re one of the good guys.”

He snorted. “Yeah.”

“Do you think I’m going to fall in love with you? Is that it? Because that’s not an issue. I don’t believe in love.”

At that he removed the pillow from his head. “You don’t believe in love.”

“Does that shock you? Why should it? I grew up as the child of a broken home and I’ve seen more divorces around me than I care to remember. You of all people should understand.”

“Me of all people?”

“You’re also from a broken home. And…you’re a single father.”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in love. And I think it’s pretty messed up that you don’t, Sarah.”

“Okay. What do you want? Is it me at all? Because a couple of hours ago you had me pretty well convinced, so if you’ve changed your mind you need to tell me now.”

There. She couldn’t believe she’d let all her thoughts spill out at last. Everything she’d intended to tell him for months had come pouring out of her lips, like the semidark of the room had given her added courage. In the ensuing quiet Sarah didn’t think he would answer her at all. Worse, in the dark of the room she couldn’t take a cue from his usually expressive eyes.

“I want you, Sarah.” He finally spoke, the sound of his voice so naked and raw that Sarah’s knees went boneless.

***

AIRMAN TO THE RESCUE, a June 2017 release from Harlequin Superromance, may be pre-ordered through these retailers: Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and Harlequin.

 

***

About Heatherly

Heatherly Bell drinks copious amounts of coffee, craves cupcakes, and occasionally wears real pants. She lives in northern California with her family. Stay in contact with Heatherly through her website, www.heatherlybell.com; and through these social-media channels: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating: Nan Dixon

Author Speed Dating(1)

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: Nan Dixon

 

 

Nan Dixon

 

harlequin superromance

 

 

 

 

1.Which of the Peanuts girls – Lucy, Sally, Peppermint Patty or Marcie – would be your best friend if you were added as a character on the comic strip?

Peppermint Patty—we both play sports.

2. Name a genre or sub-genre have you never written in but would like to.

Middle Grade or Historical Romance—but I would probably spend too much time on historical research and never finish the book.

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

In 1986 I started working on a middle-grade book (never finished). In 2008, I began writing contemporary romance full time, and my first book released 2014.

4. Jeopardy or Real Housewives of Orange County?

Jeopardy! I even have it for my Wii! I might be a little competitive.

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

I never used to write the synopsis first. Now I do, but only because it’s contractually required. (But the finished manuscript never matches the synopsis!)

6. Sam Elliot or Robert Downey, Jr.?

A young Sam Elliot.

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

 I think there is a little bit of me in every character, or at least I give them things that I love doing.  In  SOUTHERN COMFORTS — Abby is a chef. I love cooking and always want to experiment more. I guess I did that vicariously with her! (She matches her appetizers and wine for each evening’s wine tasting.)

8. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” or “The Great Gatsby”? Book or movie version, your choice.

Neither?—Give me “Gone with the Wind”. Movie version and Clark Gable!

9. What has been your proudest moment as an author?

When a reader came up and asked me to sign her T-shirt at the RWA literacy signing, because she loved my debut. I cried.

10. How important is social media to you in your writing career?

Very! It keeps me connected to my readers and writing peeps. And I can stay current on my agent Laura Bradford’s life, through her funny tweets!

11. What kind of snacker are you? Potato chips and ice cream or kale chips and edamame?

I try to snack healthy, but I love gummy worms and orange slices.

12. What are the hardest and easiest part for you as you write a book?

The hardest part for me to write is making sure each character has an emotional arc that changes during the story. The easiest, the black moment.

13. Adele or The Rolling Stones?

Adele! I want to be able to hear the words.

14. What is the best piece of advice you can offer to a new writer, particularly one you wish someone gave to you when you were getting started?

I really needed a beginning craft class when I first started to toy around with writing. I wrote 5 manuscripts before I knew what I was doing. Go to a basic writing class.

15. If you could travel anywhere in the world, free of charge, where would you be booking your next vacation?

England. My English mother met my father during WWII and came to the US to marry him after the war. They corresponded for 3 years during the war and while my father finished college.

***

NanBook

 

The Other Twin

By Nan Dixon

 

It was nice having the craziness of feeding two kids and a man at her table. This is what life would have been like if Brad hadn’t died. Cheryl touched her stomach. Maybe they would have had another child.

She watched Nathan cut Isabella’s chicken. There wasn’t a second child in her future, but she could help Nathan with his daughter. Eventually, Nathan and Issy would move on, both physically and emotionally. But she could help for now.

“I cut the potatoes,” Josh told Isabella.

Issy forked a potato and smiled at him. A pixie with dandelion fluff for hair and her father’s heart-breaking brown eyes.

Cheryl brushed the hair out of Isabella’s eyes. “Is it good?”

The little girl nodded.

“I love it.” Nathan grinned.

Josh shot him a glare. And the bubble broke. They weren’t a family. She was just helping out a semi-clueless father with a damaged daughter.

As dinner wound down, Isabella set her milk too close to the table’s edge and the plastic glass dropped to the floor.

“Issy.” Nathan’s voice was sharper than normal, but he didn’t yell.

The little girl cringed anyway. Her shoulders curled up to hid her face. A whimper erupted as she bent in two.

“It’s okay. It’s just spilled milk.” Cheryl hurried to the other side of the table. “Josh, can you please grab paper towels? We’ll have this cleaned up in no time.”

Isabella was frozen. Cheryl stroked her back and she jerked. “Nathan, I think she’s done.”

Nathan took the hint and picked up his daughter. She wrapped her limbs around him like a vine.

“It’s okay.” Josh handed a wad of towels to Cheryl. “Sometimes I spill, too. Mom never slaps me.”

“Slaps?” Nathan said. “Issy?”

The girl tucked her head deeper into Nathan’s shoulder, shaking her head.

Josh covered his mouth.

“Josh?” Cheryl wiped the floor, trying to keep everything nonchalant. “Has Isabella talked to you?”

“I can’t tell.” Josh looked at Issy. “I promised.”

***

THE OTHER TWIN, part of the Fitzgerald House miniseries, is a January 2017 release from Harlequin Superromance, and may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, Harlequin, iBooks and Kobo.

***

About Nan

Nan Dixon spent her formative years as an actress, singer, dancer and competitive golfer. But the need to eat had her studying accounting in college. Unfortunately, being a successful financial executive didn’t feed her passion to perform. When the pharmaceutical company she worked for was purchased, Nan got the chance of a lifetime—the opportunity to pursue a writing career.  She’s a five-time Golden Heart® finalist and award-winning author, lives in the Midwest and is active in her local RWA chapter and on the board of a dance company. She has five children, three sons-in-law, two granddaughters, a brand new grandson and one neurotic cat.

Stay in contact with Nan through her website, www.nandixon.com, or through these social-media channels: Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest and Twitter.

 

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Author Speed Dating – Kristina Knight

Author Speed Dating(1)

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: Kristina Knight

 

 

Kristi

HARLEQUIN SUPERROMANCE

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. If you were to make an appearance at Comic-Con, which Superhero costume would you be rocking?

Wonder Woman, naturally. (I could really use some super-cool bracelets, and that jet plane would mean no more long lines at the airport!)

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

As long as I have caffeine (ice-cold Coca-Cola, please), I can make any time of day work.

3. George Clooney or Bradley Cooper?

Although a little piece of my heart will always belong to Mr. Clooney, a bigger piece of my heart belongs to Bradley. Cooper all the way!

4. What is your biggest dream as an author?

I would love to someday hit one of the big lists, but, honestly, as long as people enjoy my books, I’m a happy camper!

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

“The Princess Bride.” I can quote it line-for-line, and I get sucked into it every time.

6. How many books have you published and in how many genres and sub-genres?

Thirteen, not counting various bundles of my series or boxed sets that I’ve put a book into. All are contemporary romance, but they run the gamut from cowboys to rockers, a billionaire or three…

7. Love It or List It or Modern Family?

Modern Family – love the banter and all the relationship dynamics. So much fun!

8. What is your favorite way to celebrate after you receive a new book contract or get a great review?

RadioMan and I always go to lunch, and then I pick a new bead for my book-charm-bracelet.

9. What is your best advice for new writers?

Just keep writing. There are experts who swear by this advertising or that blog tour, but the truth is that the next book is the best marketing you can have. So keep writing.

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

Tough one! I’m going to go with French fries…mostly because I’m starving right now and that sounds like a good dinner option.

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

The book I just finished (the first book in my Slippery Rock series, which will be out later this year), took a couple of incarnations, and multiple character revisions…but in the end, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

12. Do you have a music playlist for writing? If so, list some of your go-to artists.

I do! I make new playlists for every book/series. Right now I’ve got a lot of Dierks Bentley and Maren Morris in both of my playlists.

13. Virginia Woolf or Maya Angelou?

Maya. Her poetry is so lyrical, and I can hear her voice in my head as I read.

14. 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, stick it in a folder, and get back to the book I’m working on.

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

My WordWrangler pals, and my local RWA chapter girls are all priceless for a variety of reasons – camaraderie, brainstorming help, butt-in-chair-ing, cheerleading, and picking up the pieces…I love them all.

***

Kristina book

 

 

Protecting the Quarterback

By Kristina Knight

 

 

“Jonas.” Her quiet voice snapped him back to the parking lot. “Why don’t you not take me home?”

His stomach muscles tightened as the words slipped from her lips in that slow drawl.

“Are you sure?”

She nodded, and he knew he wouldn’t take her home, not just yet.

When he was behind the wheel, Brooks took his hand in hers and turned her face to watch the buildings passing by. The sun was beginning to set when he pulled into the parking lot of the condo where he’d spent the first few years of his contract with the team. Several other players lived there during the season, but the place was mostly a ghost town now. He parked in his designated spot and then somehow they were inside the glass-and-chrome decorated living room.

Memorabilia lined the walls and a low, white couch sat behind a glass-topped coffee table. He cringed. It was too perfect. Too planned out.

Too much like the other times he’d brought a woman here. Maybe he should have taken her to a hotel. There was still time, he could—

“Wow,” she said, drawing her index finger over the smooth surface of a table lined with photographs of him during games or at press conferences. God, he’d been such a schmuck with the decorating of this place. “This is not what I expected.”

“My interior designer has very specific tastes,” he said lamely. Definitely, definitely should have taken her anywhere but this condo.

She presented herself as the girl next door, but there was a little bit of siren in her now, which made his heartbeat kick up a notch. Brooks made her way around the room and he couldn’t take his eyes off her as she moved. Slowly and sinuously. Taking in everything around her. This was a different Brooks than the woman he thought he’d known over the past week. That woman was businesslike most of the time. The moments she let her guard down, like when she talked to the kids without that microphone in tow, though, she was irresistible. Impossible not to watch or wonder about. It was one of those moments that made him ask her out for dinner. That dinner had led them here.

Jonas met her at the kitchen counter, put his hands on her hips and turned her to face him.

“It was a date,” he said and bent his head so he could taste her lips. She was sweet, as he’d imagined so many times over the past few days. She wound her arms around his neck and slanted her mouth, giving him better access to the sweetness that was Brooks. He squeezed his hands around her waist and she shivered. “It was always a date,” he said again and began walking her down the hallway to the bedroom.

***

Protecting the Quarterback, a May 2016 release from Harlequin Superromance, may be purchased from these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Harlequin, iBooks and KOBO.

 

***

About Kristina

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police–no, she wasn’t a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer’s capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way, she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she’s living her own happily ever after.

Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. Stay in touch with Kristina through her website, www.kristinaknightauthor.com, or through these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and Google+.

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Janet Lee Nye

 

Author Speed Dating(1)

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: Janet Lee Nye

 

Janet pic

HarlequinSuperromance2

15 Questions

1. Which character in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is your favorite, and what does that say about you?

Bumble, post dental surgery, all roar, no bite. Tall and can reach things.

2. What are some of things you do to work your way through a plot problem?

See above, roar a lot. Boring answer: on the treadmill.

3. Name your favorite author who writes in a genre that you never write.

Neil Gaiman.

4. Cherry cordials or candy canes?

Candy canes, licked down to a dangerously sharp point.

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

Oh, lordy. [*pulls off socks so I can use toes for this count*] If I count all the times I took an existing manuscript and rewrote it (change a romantic suspense into a contemporary), the total is six. [*puts socks back on*]

6. In 10 words or less, give your best tip for aspiring authors.

The closer you get, the bigger the disappointments. Don’t quit.

7. Lifetime Christmas movies. Yea or nay?

Nay.

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

2014. I missed being a finalist in the Golden Hearts by one point, and there were only two finalists in my category. I was considering quitting but went to RWA Nationals and my tribe kicked my butt back into the game. [Note from Dana: The Golden Heart Award, sponsored by Romance Writers of America, is the premier contest for unpublished romance writers.]

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

Traditionally published. Mostly because I’m not computer or marketing savvy enough to properly self-publish.

10. “O Holy Night” (Josh Groban version) or “White Christmas” (Bing Crosby version)?

I’m more of a “Holly Jolly Christmas” kind of girl.

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

I think I’d have to say Lena Reyes, Sadie’s best friend in Spying on the Boss. She has her own book coming out in April. She is strong, smart, sassy and fierce when it comes to family and friends.

12. What is your strategy for writing over the holidays?

Depends. I’m a nurse, so I work on holidays. If I’m not working at the hospital, I may squeeze in a few words. We aren’t big party people so our holidays tend to be rather low-key.

13. Of all the delightful treats available during the holiday season, which one would you prefer to hide in a closet so you don’t have to share it with anyone?

Peppermint bark.

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

No. I was part of a writer’s group many years ago, but I was the only romance writer there, so I felt pushed to be “literary”, and it hurt my writing. Now, I have my Fella give me feedback (he is a writer also).

15. What is your usual New Year’s Resolution, and how quickly do you usually break it?

Which one? Go to the gym at least four times a week? Drink more water? Eat more healthfully? Start dressing like a grown up? Don’t wear pajamas all day?

***

BON Cover

Boss on Notice

By Janet Lee Nye

 

 

“Hey, neighbor,” Josh called.

She tried not to look, but how could she not? He was too good looking. That black curly hair and the blue eyes. His shoulders, his chest, his arms…he was built but he didn’t try to show it off by wearing a shirt two sizes too small for his body.  She bit her bottom lip, felt it slip back into her mouth as she watched him. Those jeans. Levi’s. Straight forward working man’s jeans. Nothing fancy. She felt warm in all the wrong places.

“Hi,” she said.

Short, sweet, to the point. Get out of here before he offers you a ride. She pushed the stroller but he met her at the sidewalk. He squatted to look at Ian.

“Hey, little man. What big adventure are you off to today? Going to break in to a few more houses?”

“Go! Go! Go!” Ian shouted back.

“Sounds like a plan.”

“Sorry,” she said. “Shouting seems to be the only volume he has these days.”

He stood and smiled at her. “You guys always seem to be on the go.”

“Yep. That’s us. Busy, busy, busy.”

He looked at her. Then at the duffels. Then at the street. He rubbed his jaw, the stubble there making a faint scratching noise that went straight through her. She squared her shoulders.

“Yeah. I should get back to work.”

Work. Whoa. Wait. What was it that lady had told her on the phone? He was here setting up a cleaning business. She could clean.

“You’re hiring?”

He gave her a look. A half smile. “Yeah, but…”

“Can I apply? I don’t have any experience other than cleaning my own house. But I’m a fast learner. And I’m not afraid of hard work.”

“Mickie,” he said, cutting off her babble.

“What?”

“We are an all-male cleaning company. That’s our gimmick. Good looking guys cleaning your house.”

“Oh.” She was too disappointed to say anything else.

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay. Nothing ventured and all. Well, I should get going.”

She could feel him watching her as she navigated down the sidewalk to the street. All male. Weren’t there, like, discrimination laws about stuff like that? She tried to get angry about it but she couldn’t seem to think around the echoes of the scrape of his fingers against the stubble. Her own fingers twitched on the stroller handles. She’d like to run a finger over that stubble.

***

Boss on Notice, an installment in The Cleaning Crew miniseries, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Harlequin and Books-A-Million.

***

About Janet

Janet Lee Nye is a writer by day and a neonatal nurse by night. She lives in Charleston, SC, with her fella and her felines. She spends too much time on Twitter and too little time on housework and has no plans to remedy this.

Stay in touch with Janet through her website, www.janetleenye.com or through these social-media channels: Facebook and Twitter. Learn more about Janet and her fellow Harlequin Superromance authors on the Superromance Facebook Page or the  Superromance Authors Blog, www.superauthors.com.

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Author Speed Dating: Claire McEwen

Author Speed Dating(1)

If there’s one thing I enjoy almost as much as writing books, it’s READING books. I love discovering new authors, too. So I thought my blog would be a perfect place to introduce my authors friends to potential new readers. Only to give it a twist, we’re doing this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.

 

This week’s guest: Claire McEwen

 

Author Photo - Claire McEwen

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15 Questions

1. Which Scooby Doo character best describes you in high school?

Scooby Doo himself!  Blundering around (socially, that is), looking for snacks and making a lot of mistakes.

2. How many rejections did you receive before you sold your first book?

None.  Thank you Harlequin and the So You Think You Can Write Contest and my amazing editor who took a chance on me!

3. Bon Jovi or Tim McGraw?

Tim McGraw.  Country music inspires my western romances!

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

So far I’ve only written Harlequin Superromance books.  I’m wordy and complicated, just like they are!

5. When you give into a craving for fast food, what’s your drive-thru destination, and what would be found in your bag?

Does Starbucks count as a drive-thru?  Because…coffee!

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

Love scenes, absolutely. I am a total wimp about murder and scary things.

7. Jane Austen or Stephen King?

See Question #6.  Jane Austen, without a doubt!

8.  What is your best advice to a writer who has just received a rejection?

Chocolate helps.  Keep working on your writing, keep pushing yourself, keep enjoying the writing process.

9. Are you more dangerous in a bookstore or a shoe store?

I am EXTREMELY dangerous in both!

10. Which heroine from one of your books is most like you?

Jenna in my second book, More Than A Rancher.  Her story is based on my experiences teaching dance and living in San Francisco. But no, I didn’t do that thing she does at Aquatic Park. Just in case you were wondering!

11. The Bachelor or Sons of Anarchy?

The Bachelor.  I cringe at all the drama, but it’s addictive!

12. What is the first thing you do when you finish a book?

If my family is home, I take a victory lap around the living room and kitchen shouting, “I typed The End!”  Then I clean my house.

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

Do I have to pick only one? Because there’s my procrastinating, my self-doubt and my awkward, bumbling inner-Scooby Doo, as mentioned in question #1.

14. Does your perfect vacation involve high-altitude and the word “jump” or umbrellas drinks at poolside?

Ack! No jumping! Ever!  (Grabs her umbrella drink and takes a soothing gulp.)

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 most recent book, Return to Marker Ranch. It’s straight from my heart onto the page.

***

Cover Return to Marker Ranch

Return to Marker Ranch

By Claire McEwen

 

Even though Marker Ranch was just down the road, Lori had never actually been here. She’d grown up with Wade and wasted her teenage years in the throes of a tortured crush on the bad boy he became. But no one she knew had ever set foot on his family’s ranch. Wade’s dad and older brothers hadn’t exactly encouraged visitors. In fact, they’d been downright scary.

She squinted at a weathered sign nailed to a post at the start of the driveway. The faded black letters read Keep Out. Lori wasn’t usually one to break the rules, but today was different. Her ranch was at stake.

Her truck pitched and bumped through the minefield of potholes that passed for a driveway. The place was a mess. One entire pasture was filled with rusted-out cars. The main barn was leaning and sagging, tired and gray, its paint long gone. The farmhouse was in a similar state. Roof shingles were missing and the porch looked like it was about to fall right off the house. It was a shame because it had obviously been a lovely home long ago.

The place looked deserted. There was none of the bustle you’d find around a typical ranch house. No dogs barking, chickens fluttering or livestock clamoring for dinner. The silence made her uneasy, and suddenly she wondered if she should have brought someone with her. She stepped out of the truck, keeping one hand on the door. “Hello?” she called.

Her voice disappeared into the dry heat of the late afternoon. “Hello?” she tried again.

She shut the door and took a few steps toward the house, but a noise coming from a ramshackle plywood shed to her left stopped her in her tracks. There was a clanking and a scraping, and then a skateboard came flying out the shed door and landed in the grass with a thud. As Lori watched in amazement, a weed whacker followed. Then a chainsaw. Then another.

She took a few steps toward the shed. A car wheel rolled out of the dim interior, and she dodged out of its path. “Hey!” she yelled. “Anyone in there?”

There was silence, then the crunching of boots on gravel. A man stepped out of the shadows, and Lori’s heart hit her stomach with a soft, sickening thump of recognition. Wade Hoffman.

***

Return to Marker Ranch may be purchased through these online retailers: Amazon, Harlequin, Barnes & Noble.

***

About Claire

Claire McEwen lives by the ocean in Northern California with her family and a scruffy, mischievous terrier. Her books feature strong heroes and heroines who take emotional journeys to find their happily-ever-afters.  When not dreaming up new stories, she can be found digging in her garden with a lot of enthusiasm but, unfortunately, no green thumb.  She loves discovering flea-market treasures, walking on the beach, dancing, traveling and reading, of course!

Connect with Claire through her website, http://www.clairemcewen.com, or through these social media sites: Amazon Author Page, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

 

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Author Speed Dating: Joanne Rock

Author Speed Dating(1)

If there’s one thing I enjoy almost as much as writing books, it’s READING books. I love discovering new authors, too. So I thought my blog would be a perfect place to introduce my authors friends to potential new readers. Only to give it a twist, we’re doing this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. The clock is ticking. Ready! Set! Go!

This week’s guest: Joanne Rock

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15 Questions

1. Which Disney princess (or prince) do you wish you were more like? And which one are you really most like?

Snow White. Jasmine.

2. Monopoly or Battleship?

Battleship.

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

Published: 83. Tucked in a drawer: None complete, but about 5 partials.

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

Crème brulee. Bread pudding. Some cracked pepper kettle chips. Nachos and chicken wing dip.

5. Blahniks or Nikes?

Flats only for this arthritis sufferer, so Nikes.

6. Give the title of the first manuscript (published or unpublished) you ever wrote.

Moonrise.

7. If you were marooned on a deserted island with plenty of food and water but with only one book to read and re-read, which title would you hope for?

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon

8. In which genres and sub-genres have you been published?

Contemporary Romance, Medieval Historical Romance and Young Adult fiction.

9. Pizza and beer or steak and Chianti?

All of the above.

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

Age 10. I was obsessed with textbooks, reading and writing.

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

Trust your gut. Don’t give up.

12. TED Talks or Cupcake Wars?

TED.

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

Billionaire athlete Jean Pierre Reynaud from Secret Baby Scandal. Sweet, wealthy, and an athlete… Swoony.

14. What is your most ridiculous fear?

Spinach in my teeth.

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

Nights Under the Tennessee Stars. I love that one!

 

***

JoanneRockbook

Whispers Under a Southern Sky

By Joanne Rock

Returning from the grocery store to purchase supplies, Amy took the Partridge Hill Road slowly, climbing the sharp incline with a respectful speed. She was wary of the potholes and cavernous cracks in tarmac that looked like the town had been ignoring it for decades.

Her car was on its last leg, an eBay deal she’d snagged for next to nothing after her previous vehicle had died. A gray sedan built for efficiency and not comfort, the car was held together with duct tape, furnace cement, a few well-placed zip ties and a whole lot of You Tube video knowledge on DIY mechanics. She was proud she’d kept the thing running this long, but she wasn’t about to risk her luck on one of those black holes.

Even if that meant she couldn’t zip past the house where Sam Reyes was rumored to live.

She kept her eyes on the road so as not to risk any accidental sightings. Not that she wasn’t curious, of course. Her long-ago boyfriend had been hot as a teenager when other boys were still gangly and awkward. Her imagination could fill in the blanks quite nicely to envision him as a man full grown. She didn’t need that visual confirmed. Especially not after they’d had the world’s most awkward non-breakup.

He had just up and disappeared. Vanished into thin air with Gabriella Chase, a particularly adorable majorette who probably would have been homecoming queen. If she hadn’t left school to run away with Sam. His mysterious email—weeks later–claiming that he’d left to “help a friend” hadn’t exactly eased her anger.

Thump!

The car dipped down into a rut she hadn’t seen. The passenger side tire scraped something sharp, a grating noise against the wheel. She hit the gas on instinct since her vehicle was prone to stalling.

And yet, of course, her sedan died right there.

“Unacceptable.” She closed her eyes. Willed the vehicle to life. “If not for me, you would be in a scrap heap.”

Sadly, it wasn’t her first dialogue with the vehicle. But for the first time, the cursed thing seemed to listen because it fired up again with a cough and a splutter.

“Yes!” She hit the gas hard, desperate to get out of sight from the last house on Partridge Hill Road.

She wasn’t a woman who enjoyed being rescued and, thankfully, her closest neighbor would be saved from that role today. Racing up the rest of the hill, she dodged the remaining pits and crevices, flush with victory and the knowledge she had enough supplies to last her for the next two weeks. She wouldn’t need to worry about seeing anyone until she felt well settled in and—

Oh. Crap.

A large man stood on the porch of the hunting cabin.

Dressed in black and wearing dark sunglasses, the figure stood with his back to her, his large shoulders bent over something he seemed to be examining on the front porch swing. A hit man deciding which weapon to use? Her brain churned out a whole series of crazy possibilities when he did not turn toward her as she slowed the car.

Fear crawled up her throat since no one should be here. Her sisters had promised her—promised—that they would let her decide when she wanted to see the family. No one else knew she was here. And the guy on the porch sure didn’t look like he was selling something. Or trying to convert her.

Why hadn’t the man noticed her yet? She debated backing down the road again. She could just slide it into neutral and she’d be at the bottom of Partridge Hill in moments. Then suddenly, even with her heart beating hard and the car’s heater blowing on high, she realized she could hear the wail of an infant.

Even as she told herself that made no sense, the man on the porch straightened from whatever he’d been studying on the wooden swing. He held a baby in his arms.

But that wasn’t nearly the most shocking thing about her uninvited guest.

Because the man in front of her was Samuel Reyes….

 

A September 2016 release from Harlequin Superromance, WHISPERS UNDER A SOUTHERN SKY is available from these retailers: Amazon , B&N, Harlequin.

***

About Joanne

Four-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock has never met a romance sub-genre she didn’t like. The author of over seventy books enjoys writing a wide range of stories, most recently focusing on sexy contemporaries and small town family sagas. An optimist by nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance fits her life outlook perfectly–love is worth fighting for. A frequent speaker at regional and national writing conferences, she enjoys giving back to the writing community that nurtured and inspired her early career. She has a Masters degree in Literature from the University of Louisville but credits her fiction writing skills to intensive study with fellow author and friend, Catherine Mann. When she’s not writing, Joanne enjoys travel, especially to see her favorite sports teams play with her former sports editor husband and three athletic-minded sons.

Website, Facebook, Twitter

 

 

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