Author Speed Dating: Lisa Dyson

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

This week’s guest: Lisa Dyson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Property Brothers or Big Bang Theory?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

 

Can’t Help Falling in Love” 

Falling for You

By Lisa Dyson

 

 

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

“So you’re Tyler’s cousin?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And you live in the city?”

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

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

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

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

“Of course you’d say that.”

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

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

“I am.”

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

“Whittler’s Creek, Maryland.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

***

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

 

***

About Lisa

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Jo McNally

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

This week’s guest: Jo McNally

 

 

15 Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

 

Nora’s Guy Next Door

By Jo McNally

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

“I could make something.”

“You…why would you do that?”

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

“I thought you hated me?”

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

“So you don’t hate me?”

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

“I beg your pardon?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?”

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

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

Flashing blue lights lit up the parking lot.

Yes, apparently it could get a lot more embarrassing.

“Oh, my God! It’s the police!”

***

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

***

About Jo

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

***

Bonus!!!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – Jeannie Watt

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

This week’s guest:  Jeannie Watt

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every single deadline!

 ***

 

 

 

Wrangling the Rancher

By Jeannie Watt

 

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

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

No. She needed to be bailed out.

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

“Hello?”

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

“He doesn’t live here.”

Taylor blinked. “What?”

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

“Who are you?”

“I’m renting his place.”

“Your name.”

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

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

“You don’t have his cell number?”

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

“He does now.”

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

“Tell me who you are—”

“I’m his granddaughter.”

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

“I—”

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

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

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

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

What had just happened?

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

 

***

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

***

About Jeannie

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

 

 

 

 

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Author Speed Dating – 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.

***

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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