Please welcome the lovely Anastasia Abboud! Her recent release, Tremors through Time, is a time travel romance that’s getting rave reviews, and I can’t wait to read it myself. Here’s the story:
She’s made mistakes and paid the price, but Deidre Chisolm is no quitter. She’ll never again be a fool for a man, not even her gorgeous new neighbor with his haunted eyes and strange accent. She’ll be friendly, but nothing more.
Lachlann has to go back to fourteenth-century Scotland. He can’t forsake his family, his son. But when a beautiful, kind, funny lady buys the house next door, he’s never been so drawn to anyone in his life. Would she believe his story? After years of struggling through nightmares and flashbacks, headaches and illiteracy, dare he ask her to help him return?
A peek between the pages:
Lachlann sauntered across Deidre’s driveway just as she was locking her front door. She turned toward him, smiling. He froze. She was wearing a saffron-colored leine, or tunic, underneath a blue, fitted surcoat. He should have known! She was a woman from his own time. His heart and head began to pound as he stared at her.
“Lachlann?” Deidre’s voice reached him, soft and hesitant. “Don’t you like my costume?”
Costume. Of course, it was a costume. He struggled to regain his voice as his heart rate calmed. “It’s great,” he managed, giving himself a mental shake. Fool!
“Thank you,” she replied, her voice still uncertain. She looked at him inquiringly. “I surprised you, didn’t I? I’m sorry. I should’ve warned you. I like to wear something fairly authentic in case I run into some of my students.”
“You do look authentic.” He managed a wink. “Bonnie as well.”
She blushed. “You’ve probably seen lots of costumes like this in Scotland.”
“Not so many, and none in Texas.”
It was a wonder to him that he was still standing. Her costume, as she called it, was perfect. She might have fallen through time like himself. It was an even greater wonder that he had not yet carried her off to bed. He’d never wanted anyone as he wanted her.
Now, dressed in such a familiar manner, she suddenly seemed more tangible than ever. She looked magnificent, the clothing emphasizing her generous breasts and hips, her deep red tresses flowing freely down her back.
His mouth went dry as he wondered how he might persuade her to dress like this more often.
For me, playing is the best — playing outdoors in nature or in my garden, experimenting in the kitchen, spending time with those I love. I also enjoy disappearing into a good book, attempting crafts, learning, writing, exploring, discovering. I especially like to mix it up and have yet to perfect any of it; and I’ve come to realize that perfection’s not the point. It’s all wonderfully fun. That’s the point!
I prefer authentic and natural, be it food, lifestyle, people. I passionately enjoy both history and science, and certainly sociology to a degree, and I am most truly a romantic.
My husband and I have been married for over forty years. We reside near Houston, Texas, surrounded by loved ones. We have a blast with our little grandchildren.
Please welcome sister Rose (published by The Wild Rose Press) C. L. Colyer! She’s here to talk about her new release, Friends to the End. I love the cover, don’t you? Let’s sit back, relax, and learn all about the author and her inspiration for this middle-grade story, which bestselling author Allan Woodrow has called “a compelling, gripping, nail-biting page-turner.”
Hello, Judith! Thanks for having me on your blog!
I write across genres, with most of my published titles being young adult paranormal romances/thrills. But I have always had a love for children’s fantasy. Bring on the ghosts, vampires, witches, and weird. I’ll gobble up these stories, cheering and gasping right along with the characters. It’s because I love these stories so much that I enjoy weaving together my own.
Friends to the End is the third middle-grade novel I penned, but the first to be published. The inspiration behind this story was two-fold. The adventure came first. I envisioned four friends creeping around an ancient old house, trying not to draw attention to themselves as they searched for a way out. Who they were hiding from and why they were in danger came to me quite out of the blue as I drove by a road not far from my house. Tucked between the homes on what would otherwise be a peaceful rural road is the second most haunted cemetery in Illinois. I passed this road everyday as a teen as the bus took me to school. I’d heard the stories of apparitions seen floating above graves or walking down the road. This cemetery quickly became the inspiration for my fictional town.
But Friends to the End isn’t just a ghost story. Zach, my kind-hearted and brave (even though he doesn’t realize it just yet) protagonist is dealing with the loss of his best friends. His personal jury was born by the overwhelming and heartbreaking loss of innocent lives that happen in Chicago and other cities everyday. Having lost his best friend to the violence, Zach battles the ghosts in his past as he battles the all too real ghosts in the book. He’ll need to be brave if he hopes to make it out alive.
A little more about the book:
Zach doesn’t believe in ghosts…but he should.
Twelve-year-old Zach is convinced he’ll never be happy without his best friend Jeremy by his side. But both of their lives changed with a bang five months ago, and as far as Zach’s concerned, it’s his fault Jeremy will never see his twelfth birthday.
When Zach moves with his family to a Chicago suburb, he quickly becomes friends with a group of thrill-seeking kids trying to find a disappearing haunted house. But Zach’s not worried. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, so he follows them into a wild, dangerous encounter that becomes a battle to decide what’s real and what’s not.
A peek between the pages:
We stopped a few yards from the cemetery, our mouths hanging open and our eyes wide.
“Please tell me you see that,” I whispered.
“If you mean the white lights floating above the ground,” Josh said, “we see it.”
“They’re orbs,” Morgan corrected, as if knowing the proper name for the glowing spheres made it okay to see them.
“Orbs?” Josh asked.
“Spirits of the dead,” I replied, remembering what Morgan had told me.
Dom scooted his bike closer. “Maybe we should ask them if they’ve seen the house.”
“Seriously?” Morgan asked.
Morgan shook her head, causing her ponytail to swing from side to side. “Oh, no! I learned my lesson the last time we were here. I’m not stepping one foot off the shoulder of the road.”
“Your right foot is in the grass,” Dom said, shining his flashlight on her sneaker.
Morgan scowled and repositioned herself to have both feet on concrete.
Three iridescent orbs floated over headstones. I thought about the movies that warned people to stay away from the light. Maybe they weren’t warning us about a bright beam of light, but instead small glowing balls. Maybe if one of them touched you, the spirit would take over your body. Maybe they were waiting for someone to be stupid enough to come closer. I suddenly wondered if I’d met anyone who’d been possessed by a spirit and immediately thought of Olivia and her strange habits.
Then I told myself I was being ridiculous.
Or was I? Think about it. How would anyone know if a ghost hitched a ride with the person in front of him or her?
C.L. Colyer found her love for writing in first grade when her class was sent to the library and asked to find a book for their first book report. While she doesn’t still have this book report, she’s very proud to say she got an A on it. Her favorite thing about the book was that it had no words. That’s right, not one! That gave her the freedom to interpret the pictures in any way she wanted and write her own story.
This sparked her love for writing essays. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she sat down and penned her first novel. This story has a special place in her heart because it’s the story that helped her discover her passion for writing. She has since written several books, many of which may never see the light of day, but all of which helped her learn to combine her passion for writing with her fascination with all things mythical. You’ll find examples of this in her novels.
Today, I’m excited to welcome Dan Rice, whose recent release, Dragons Walk Among Us, has garnered some great reviews! He’s here to tell us all about this young adult fantasy, writing, publishing, promo, and the second book in the series. Take it away, Dan!
I often read the advice for authors that the best career move is to write the next book. Lately, along with all the promotional work to launch my debut Dragons Walk Among Us, I’ve been hammering away at the next installment of Allison Lee’s adventures. Although I readily admit it may prove a pipe dream, my goal is to have book two in The Allison Lee Chronicles turned in to my editor by December of this year––fingers crossed!
Before having Dragons Walk Among Us picked up by The Wild Rose Press, I had been drafting an epic fantasy. I continued working on that book while at the same time incorporating feedback from my editor on Dragons Walk Among Us. About the time I finished correcting the initial galley––the galley is the document sent to the printer––I gleefully realized that I hadn’t been dreaming; I actually had a book coming out! Hopefully, the first book in a four or five-book series. I knew the time was right to set aside the epic fantasy, despite having written 60,000 words or more, and start writing the further adventures of Allison Lee.
I quickly outlined the plot for book two and started writing. At the same time, I was correcting the final galley of Dragons Walk Among Us and trying to unravel the secret of “promo”. As best I can tell, like many things in life, the secret to promoting your writing is diligently putting in the time and effort, just like when you’re crafting a story. With my debut released only two short weeks ago, I’m a hair over 60,000 words into the second book. I’m shooting for approximately a 90,000-word novel, so I have about a third left to write. Sometimes I feel like I will easily make my December goal, but then I remember the numerous hours I will spend at the editorial chopping block hacking the first draft into a manuscript worthy of submission.
With any luck, readers who enjoy Dragons Walk Among Us will read Allison Lee’s continuing exploits next summer. She will travel from the rain-soaked streets of Seattle to sun-drenched islands in Southeast Asia to encounter mystery, magic, and creatures ripped straight out of the myth.
More about Dragons Walk Among Us:
Shutterbug Allison Lee is trying to survive high school while suffering the popular girl’s abuse. Her life is often abysmal, but at least her green hair is savage. Her talent for photography is recognized by the school paper and the judges of a photo contest.
While visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet, Allison’s life irrevocably changes after an attack leaves her blind. All her dreams as a photojournalist are dashed as she realizes she’ll never see again. Despair sets in until she is offered an experimental procedure to restore her vision. But there are side effects, or are they hallucinations? She now sees dragons accompanying some of the people she meets. Can she trust her eyes, or has the procedure affected her more than she can see?
A peek between the pages:
Biting my lower lip, I cross the threshold into the room. To my left, I see the glittering scales of a gargantuan golden dragon with its leathery green wings pressed tight against its sides. The beast shimmers and fades in and out of existence. One second the serpentine neck looms overhead to nearly touch the vaulted ceiling and in the next second fades away. The same is true for the rest of the serpent’s body.
There is a click, and a desk lamp flares to life. I breathe in sharply and hop in place. Sitting in a chair at the table, bathed in the lamplight, is Dr. Radcliffe. His elbows are propped up on the table, and his hands are steepled.
“Ah, Allison Lee,” Dr. Radcliffe says and checks a golden wristwatch. “You, young lady, have an impeccable sense of time, so unlike most of your generation.”
I gulp, only barely registering what he just said to me. I gawp at his draconic companion.
“Well, Allison, you want to talk to me. Here I am.”
“Why…why is there a translucent dragon looming over you?” I stutter and fumble with my sling bag’s zipper.
“Hmmm,” he says and, placing his fingertips against the table, stands. “A fascinating question. Do I take that to mean that you do not know what I am?”
“How would I know what you are?” I get hold of the zipper and start opening the bag.
Dr. Radcliffe, lips forming a hard, grim line, marches around from behind the table and approaches me. The dragon that almost seems to project from him follows, a forefoot that should crush the table passing through the wood as though insubstantial.
My hand wraps around the barrel of my camera lens. I hear a door slam from outside in the atrium. Good. My friends have arrived. Even if I can’t get a shot off, they will. Dr. Radcliffe stops in front of me and places a hand that feels very human against my hand that holds the camera lens.
“Now, now, Allison. I think it is best if you come with me, my dear. Your friends in the hall. They will come also.” He sniffs me, like a predator scenting prey. “Odd. I do not recognize your scent.”
“You’re sniffing me? You sicko! I’m not going anywhere with you.”
I pull away, but he clenches my wrist. His grip is shockingly strong for a spindly old man.
Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert’s Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views.
Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He plans to keep writing fantasy and science-fiction for many years. You can explore his blog at https://www.danscifi.com.
Please welcome Susie Black, whose cozy mystery, Death by Sample Size, was recently published by The Wild Rose Press. It has garnered some great reviews, so let’s learn all about it!
Thanks so much for joining us, Susie. What inspired you to write this book?
I keep a daily journal and memorialize my impressions of the myriad of interesting, quirky characters I’ve encountered throughout my career as a ladies’ swimwear sales and merchandising executive. I’ve met so many worthy candidates, I decided to write my fictionalized take on them. I jumped at the opportunity to write about the apparel industry from a woman’s point of view.
Have you encountered any of the characters in a dream?
Oh yeah. Several who wanted to kill me for what I did to them in the story.
Oh my! Sounds like a nightmare…or several! On a happier note…if you could give your protagonist, Holly Schlivnik, a word of advice, what would it be?
Always trust your gut and never stop believing in yourself.
Wonderful advice!In general, which do you enjoy writing more: description or dialogue?
As a sales exec, I earn my keep as a professional talker, so no question about it; I enjoy writing dialogue.
So do I. It really flows. What do you love most about being an author?
As a humorous cozy mystery author, I get to knock off characters who in real life I would have loved to eliminate! I found this so cathartic, I recommended it as a therapy method to my psychologist son.
Yes, that could be very therapeutic! What did you think when you first saw the cover of your book?
Truthfully? I cried.
Aww…I understand. 🙂 Since you’re an apparel sales exec, have you thought of any cool marketing ideas or tie-ins to the swimwear industry?
Absolutely yes. It’s funny how often one thing leads to another. When I first got into the swim biz, my smart aleck Nana bought me a coffee mug that said: “Things could be worse. We could be trying on Swimsuits.” Gee, thanks Nana. Nice, huh? Actually, it turned out to be immensely helpful. It shined a light on one of the biggest issues for consumers; the angst many have at the thought of buying a swimsuit and I wrote a fit guidebook that helps consumers find the right swimsuit based on their body type. A critical component of my social media marketing plan is to offer the Holly Swimsuit fit tip of the day with tips from the fit guide. Here is an example of one:
NEED A SWIMSUIT? DON’T PANIC. Holly Swimsuit Daily Fit Tip: A one-piece suit will hide a thick waist. Pick the right suit and pick up Death by Sample Size by fashionista and cozy mystery author Susie Black #cozymysteryauthor#swimsuit#wrpbks
Great idea!Now, tell us a little more about the story:
The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent for revenge. Get ready to laugh out loud as Susie Black’s Death by Sample Size takes you on a rollicking adventure ride through the Los Angeles apparel industry.
A peek between the pages:
When the elevator doors opened, I had to stop myself short not to step on her. There was Bunny Frank-the buying office big shot-lying diagonally across the car. Her legs were splayed out and her back was propped against the corner. Her sightless eyes were wide open and her arms reached out in a come to me baby pose. She was trussed up with shipping tape like a dressed Thanksgiving turkey ready for the oven with a bikini stuffed in her mouth. A Gotham Swimwear hangtag drooped off her lower lip like a toe tag gone lost. Naturally, I burst out laughing.
Before you label me incredibly weird or stone-cold, let me say genetics aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If you’re lucky you inherit your Aunt Bertha’s sexy long legs or your father’s ability to add a bazillion dollar order in his head and get the total correct to the last penny. Without even breaking into a sweat, it’s easy to spout at least a million fabulous traits inheritable by the luck of the draw. Did I get those sexy long legs or the ability to add more than two plus two without a calculator? Noooooooooo. Lucky me. I inherited my Nana’s fear of death we overcompensated for with the nervous habit of laughing. A hysterical reaction? Think Bozo the clown eulogizing your favorite aunt.
I craned my neck like a tortoise and checked around. Then I clamped a fist over my mouth. Cripes, how could I possibly explain my guffaws with Bunny lying there? Disappointment was simultaneously mixed with relief when there was no one else in the parking lot. Where was security when you needed them?
I toed the elevator door open and bent over Bunny. I’d seen enough CSI episodes to know not to touch her. She was stiff as a board and I attributed the bluish tinge of her skin to the bikini crammed down her throat. I was no doctor, but I didn’t need an MD after my name to make this diagnosis. Bunny Frank was dead as the proverbial doorknob.
It was no surprise Bunny Frank had finally pushed someone beyond their limits. The only surprise was it had taken so long. The question wasn’t who wanted Bunny Frank dead. The question was who didn’t?
Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.
She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.
Looking for more? Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Behold the cover of Peggy Jaeger’s upcoming release, A Pride of Brothers: Aiden! It’s the second book in the series; the first, whose hero is Rick, is nominated for a RONE award. (Best of luck, Peg!)
Here’s the scoop on Aiden’s story:
Lexi Buckley wants answers about her younger sister’s death. The police have labeled it a suicide, but Lexi doesn’t believe it. Stymied in her investigation, she doesn’t know where to turn next. After a chance encounter with a private investigator, she thinks her prayers have been answered.
Aiden Keane has never been an answer to a prayer before, but he agrees to help Lexi. A quirky combo of brains and beauty, the pixie blonde makes him feel things no professional ever should for a client. When their investigation puts Lexi’s life in jeopardy, her safety becomes his number one priority. The hard part is not falling for her.
A peek between the pages:
Were you close with your sister?” Aiden asked.
Not the way we should have been. Not at the end.
“We had a sizable age difference between us. Almost ten years. I was the big sis. The oldest.” Her lips trembled when she pulled them into a sad line. Rolling her eyes she added, “The bossy one, according to her. She was the baby and took full advantage of her status from the moment she realized it.”
“And rightly so.” The corners of his eyes crinkled. “I’m the youngest of my brothers and I’ll can tell you with one hundred percent honesty, my oldest brother is the bossiest one of us. I think it comes with birth order. Although he takes his so called right uber-seriously. Especially at work.”
This time her grin was steadier. “What kind of business do you all own together?”
“We a run a private security company.”
“Personal bodyguards, if a client needs protection from something. Background checks for employers. Mostly we do investigations.”
“What, like private eyes? Like on television?”
He laughed. “Nothing so glamorous. The fast cars and hot babes are all fantasy. It’s a lot of boring research, computer work, and surveillance, but yeah, you could say I’m a private eye.”
Lexi’s entire mood turned on his words. The sorrow flew, the hurt dissolved. Even her nervous trivia-speak went dormant. She sat bolt upright, her knees bumping against the tabletop when she shifted. Excitement shot from her system as she turned her body, placed a hand across his forearm and declared, “Oh, my God. You’re the answer to my prayers.”
Sounds like a great read, and the cover really sets the mood. No buy links yet, but you can find the first book in the series here.
Here’s something you can really sink your teeth into! (Yes, I went there. Forgive me.) Bloodborn, the first book in Sydney Winward’s vampire romance series, is currently on sale for 99 cents. This book is waiting patiently on my nightstand, and I can’t wait to read it. The story:
Adam Degore’s need to find a cure for vampirism drives him to ensnare a vampire, but the creature he captures is Dracula’s daughter. Worse yet, he’s drawn to her—a monster he’s vowed to kill.
Despite her father’s wishes, Willow chooses to live among humans instead of the vampire conclave where she would be safe. She wants a life filled with more than shadows. Being captured by a human, not to mention falling in love with one, is not part of her plan.
With vampires and blood hunters closing in on their chosen prey, Adam and Willow need to trust one another. But will that trust come in time for them to survive and find a future together?
A peek between the pages:
“How could you?” she gasped, taking another step backward, but to back up much further would result in falling over the edge of the cliff and into the holy waters below. However, he was blocking her escape, a menacing sword close to penetrating her skin. Any false move would result in an iron sword through her heart. “How could you take me here?”
“I couldn’t tell you,” he answered, his voice thick with emotion. “It’s the only way. It’s the last thing I could do. For Zachariah.”
She felt numb. After everything that had happened between them, he still meant to kill her? But he was her mate. Mates were supposed to look after one another.
“Don’t do this,” she whispered, taking yet another step backward but stopping in her tracks when the roaring of the falls crashed into her ears like the loud toll of a bell signaling a vampire getting burned at the stake.
She would meet the same fate, except the only audience she would have was Adam and it was holy water instead of fire. She didn’t know which was worse. “I care for you, Adam. I want you to give me a chance.”
“I don’t have a choice. I need my brother back. He’s the only family I have left.”
I’m excited to welcome two sister Roses (published by The Wild Rose Press), Desiree Holt and Liz Crowe! We’re spotlighting their new release, Numbers Game, and Liz is here to talk about the co-writing conundrum. Take it away, Liz!
Desiree has always been one of my writing heroes. She’s the sort of established, successful author who never begrudges a newbie question or need for advice. I’ve known her since we both were writing for Decadent Publishing and got to meet her when she visited Ann Arbor for a football game.
We also share a love of sports, and have been known to go off on a tangent or two talking about college football and basketball. When I helped raise money for my kids’ high school athletic fund by inviting the Harbaugh brothers to speak at a dinner, I made sure to get a signed commemorative football and send it to her.
When I got the wild idea that we should write a sports-themed romance together, I wasn’t sure that she’d want to do it, but luckily for me she jumped at the opportunity. Given that we are both busy, it took us about a year to get our thoughts coalesced around the novel that is now NUMBERS GAME, available from Wild Rose Press. We wrote in a literal back and forth—she wrote our heroine’s perspective and I wrote the hero’s. We ran into a few issues, mainly with names which took a bit to sort out but once we did, we managed to write it between us over the course of about six months.
I learned so much writing with her, which is always my goal as an author—to learn, grow, and get better with every book and every editor and every publisher I work with. I hope you enjoy reading our second chance romance NUMBERS GAME as much as we enjoyed writing it!
A little more about Numbers Game:
Former pro football player and coach Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher fumbled his career and marriage. Now divorced and ready to tackle his future, he has an opportunity to redeem himself as coach of his college alma mater’s football team. But how can he can turn the team’s losing streak around and keep the secret of his downfall buried when the school agrees to a documentary that will allow a lovely journalist to dig her way into his past…and into his heart?
Olivia Grant’s ex-husband almost wrecked her journalism career while he definitely did a number on her self-esteem. The documentary on Duncan Hatcher is the perfect way to rebuild both. As a freshman in college, she’d had a crush on the senior football hero, but he hadn’t known she existed. She never expects the sparks that fly between them as they work on the project nor the struggles they must face if they both want to win.
A peek between the pages:
Hatch winced at the memory of how goofy he must have sounded to the lovely woman he was going to be having a fair bit of contact with this season. Olivia Grant was, without a doubt, beautiful, not to mention sexy as hell. She was a natural reporter, putting him at ease, even in the face of his high-school-ish reaction to her at first. But dear Lord, the crap he’d said? That shit about her being “better than she thought” at the race? And “looking for a foot in the door”? He’d sounded about as slick as the grandpas he’d been named for.
He groaned and pressed his forehead to the leather blotter on his new desk. After his divorce, he’d made a point not to notice women, something that was a bit of a self-imposed penalty. But there was no not noticing Olivia. Her soft, dark blonde hair that kept dropping over one of her deep green eyes as she’d look down at her notes, then back up at him. That smile, and those full, barely lip-sticked lips. And there was no denying she had a body that would be hard to shake out of his brain. Scott had told him she used to play soccer here, a few years behind him as an undergrad. How he’d not known her… Granted, he hadn’t been a big partier then, kept mostly to himself and his close group of friends and, as always, focused on the game.
But damn. He’d missed out on something then, without a doubt. He felt his face flush red and his entire body begin to react in ways that didn’t really serve him well as a fully grown man, with plenty of experience under his belt, so to speak.
Thankfully, she’d left before he could embarrass himself any more.
Home. Shower. Beer. Stare at a string of old movies on the giant television screen. Anything to get the lovely Olivia Grant and all her many attributes out of his head. She was, after all, the media. And everyone knew how he felt about the media.
It was get-a-grip time—on all parts of himself.
This was his chance at redemption. The opportunity was a godsend, considering the sorry state he’d left his life in on the west coast, and he didn’t intend to do anything to screw it up. He couldn’t afford to get distracted by a single thing. But how the hell was he going to do that when Olivia Grant might prove to be the biggest distraction of all?
USA Today best-selling and award-winning author Desiree Holt writes everything from romantic suspense and contemporary on a variety of heat levels up to erotic, a genre in which she is the oldest living author. She has been referred to by USA Today as the Nora Roberts of erotic romance, and is a winner of the EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications.
Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free book!
More about Liz:
Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She’s spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
Say hello to Kimberly Baer! She’s a talented sister Rose (published by The Wild Rose Press), and her new release, Mall Girl Meets the Shadow Vandal, has received some great reviews. Let’s learn how an unusual house inspired this middle-grade novel. Take it away, Kimberly!
I used to work in the downtown area of a small city. My parking lot was several blocks from my office, so I had a pleasant trek to look forward to twice a day. (Unless it was raining. Or snowing. Or really windy. Or really, really hot. Then it wasn’t so pleasant.) My route included a street with a row of old houses that had been converted into businesses—dental offices, accounting firms, insurance agencies, and the like. Smack-dab in the middle of that row was a single residential house, complete with a front porch swing and a small, grassy yard. For whatever reason, it had never been repurposed as a business.
I used to wonder about the occupants. Why would they choose to live in a business district? Were they as rebellious as their house? What would it be like to grow up there? Eventually, a story took shape. I pictured a pre-teen girl in the starring role. I imagined the challenges she would face growing up with office workers for neighbors instead of families. And at some point I thought, what if her house wasn’t downtown? What if it was in the middle of a shopping mall?
Bingo. That was the twist that launched Mall Girl Meets the Shadow Vandal. I mean, what kid wouldn’t love living in a shopping mall? I thought this would make a really fun setting for a middle-grade mystery novel.
I guess just about anything can spark a story—a daydream, a night dream, a newscast. A person, an experience. And, yes, even a kooky old house that doesn’t fit in with its neighbors!
A little more about Mall Girl Meets the Shadow Vandal:
“A lively, jaunty mystery with a terrific cast of characters.” – Kirkus Reviews
Chloe Lamont doesn’t live in a neighborhood, like most kids. Her house is in the middle of the mall. And now someone is stealing items from her house and using them to vandalize stores. Who is trying to frame her? And how are they getting into the house?
Desperate to catch the real vandal and clear her name, Chloe seeks help from the kids in her Mystery Reading Group at school. While searching for clues, the Mystery Groupers make an astounding discovery. And then things get really crazy…
A peek between the pages:
I hate getting up early, so it’s a blessed relief when Saturday morning rolls around and I get to sleep in.
Then I wake up and find out there’s been another egging.
Mom tells me about it when she comes home at lunchtime. This time Maynard’s Shoes was the victim. A bunch of shoes on display out front got hit. Like last time, the police think the crime took place in the middle of the night.
“How many—” I begin.
“Eight. They used eight eggs.”
We eye each other uneasily. Outside the living room window, a lady says contemptuously, “She acts like she’s the first woman on earth to ever have a baby.”
Mom turns abruptly and heads into the kitchen. I’m right behind her. We park ourselves in front of the refrigerator.
“I bought a new carton on Thursday,” she says, twisting her opal ring around and around on her pinkie. “I haven’t used any eggs at all. If you haven’t either, there should still be a full dozen.”
“I haven’t used any,” I tell her.
She takes a deep breath and tugs open the refrigerator door. She has the grim demeanor of a fourteenth-century villager about to open a vampire’s coffin. She takes out the egg carton and places it on the counter. Gingerly, she lifts the lid.
There are four eggs inside, crowded together at the left end of the carton. The rest of the carton looks starkly empty, like eight tiny bird’s nests emptied of occupants.
“Oh!” Mom clamps a hand over her mouth. “How can this be?”
I can only stare at the carton in silence, dazed by the undeniable truth. Somebody is taking our eggs and using them to attack mall stores. I just don’t know who or how or why.
Mom is looking desperately at me. “Did you drop the carton and maybe break some? It’s okay—I won’t be mad.”
“I didn’t break any eggs. I haven’t touched the carton.”
She paces around the kitchen, taking short, quick steps because it’s a tiny room. “I don’t understand. What’s going on?”
“Somebody’s stealing our eggs,” I say, and that impossible truth sounds even more impossible spoken aloud. “Did you lock all the doors and windows last night? Did you bolt the doors?”
“Of course. Do you still double-check them before you go to bed?”
“Always.” It’s something we’re both paranoid about. The mall is a creepy place at night when nobody’s around. “Were the doors still bolted this morning when you got up?”
“Maybe the person came down the chimney,” I say. “Like some kind of evil Santa Claus.”
She takes a moment to think that over. “That would be difficult, to say the least. Going back up would be even harder. And it doesn’t explain how they got into the mall after hours. Besides, why would somebody break into our house just to steal eggs? If they’re going to go to all the trouble of breaking in, why not steal our computer or my jewelry, or—or—” She gestures toward a jar on the kitchen counter. “—the grocery money?”
Mom always makes sure there’s cash on hand in case I need to run to Shop and Save. The jar is in plain sight. I can see the green bills curled inside, two twenties and a ten.
She’s staring at me expectantly, waiting for more theories about how eight eggs just walked out of our refrigerator. But I’m out of ideas.
“That’s it. No more eggs for us,” my mother says fiercely. “I’m just not going to buy them anymore. If we want eggs, we’ll go out to breakfast.”
“Fine by me,” I say.
She pulls out a chair and plops down at the table. “Jack Caldwell will be saying we’re the prime suspects again. After all, we had opportunity.”
“But not motive,” I say, sitting down across from her. “Maynard’s Shoes isn’t your rival. You don’t sell shoes.” I gnaw at a jagged edge of my thumbnail. “This has happened twice now. Don’t you think we should tell the police?”
“No!” she says immediately. Then, with a sigh, “I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Look, it’s not like we’re guilty,” I remind her. “We’ll just tell the truth and let the police figure things out. That’s what they do.”
A group of teenage girls giggle outside the kitchen window. A relentlessly crying baby goes by. A lady says, “Whatever happened with that friend of yours who found the nest of opossums in her sock drawer?”
Mom is hunched over the table. She says, in a thin voice, “I’m just afraid if the police find out how much you hate living here, they’ll think you’re the one doing the eggings. To get us evicted.”
I’m so flabbergasted, I’m speechless. For a few seconds, anyway. “I can’t believe you would even say that! You think I’m doing the eggings?”
“Not me. But the police might.”
“Oh, so now you’re playing devil’s advocate. Like Jack Caldwell.”
I know what “playing devil’s advocate” means because I looked it up after Jack said it, after Ram tried to say it. It means “taking the opposing viewpoint for the sake of argument.”
“I’m just trying to think like the police. Trying to consider all the possibilities.”
“Oh, yeah?” I stand up, shoving my chair away. “Well, I know I didn’t do the eggings, and you said nobody could have broken into our house. So that leaves you. You must be the guilty party. How’s that for a possibility?”
And I stomp through the living room and storm out the front door.
I’m excited to welcome Jennifer Wilck, a sister Rose (published by The Wild Rose Press) today! She’s here to talk about her new release, A Reckless Heart, and celebrity crushes. Take it away, Jennifer!
Do you have a favorite celebrity? One who will make you watch whatever they star in, regardless of genre?
As a teenager, it was Tom Selleck. I’d watch him in Magnum, PI and giggle every time he showed up on screen. Considering he was the star of the show, it was frequent.
As an adult, it’s George Clooney. While I don’t giggle over him, I love watching him and listening to him. For my husband, it’s Natalie Portman. He and I have an agreement that if we ever have the opportunity to “be” with either of them, we get a free pass. 🙂 Kidding. Sort of.
And of course, there are celebrities I think of in passing and when I see them on screen I think about how much I enjoy them and whether or not they’d be good inspiration for the heroes of my books—celebrities such as Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, we are big Marvel fans in my house).
When it comes to the inspiration for my heroines, I’m less clear. For whatever reason, I don’t typically associate the heroine I create with a celebrity who already exists.
However, that wasn’t completely the case for Meg in A Reckless Heart. I’ve joked with friends that the book is a cross between the Kardashians and Beauty & The Beast (I’ve even pitched it that way on Twitter). No, Meg is NOT one of the Kardashians. Nor is she modeled on them. However, as a former society “It-Girl,” she’s been exposed to people like that. She reaped the benefits and suffered the consequences. So when I created her, I imagined what it would be like to be in that world and suddenly thrown out of it.
I think that’s why, ultimately, I like to dream about my celebrity crushes, but when I do, I place them in much more realistic scenarios. I can’t imagine myself living in their stratosphere. Bringing them down to earth is much more manageable.
So tell me, who is your celebrity crush and why? Would you want to inhabit their world, or welcome them into yours?
A little more about A Reckless Heart:
Meg Thurgood, former society girl, took the blame for her friend and paid a steep price. Now all she wants is solitude and a chance to rebuild her life. She thinks she’s found that in an isolated house she rents from a mysterious stranger.
Simon McAlter has hidden in his house on the coast of Maine since a fire left him scarred. A successful landscape architect who conducts his business and teaches his classes remotely, he’s lost his inspiration and is trying to pretend he’s not lonely.
Simon’s new neighbor is more than he bargained for. When he learns Meg’s secret, will he retreat into the shadows or will he learn to see past the surface and trust in Meg’s love?
A peek between the pages:
“Let’s watch a horror movie.” Meg flopped on the couch and wiggled into the soft cushions.
There was a beat of silence before Simon turned away from her and poked at the logs in the fireplace, sending sparks up the chimney. “I’m not a big fan of horror movies.”
She liked horror movies because the monsters were obviously fake. You didn’t have to dig deep, to wonder about anything. It was black and white. Meg’s heart constricted. She hadn’t thought about it from Simon’s perspective. Did he consider himself a monster? Could this amazing man see himself in those movies? Her throat thickened. She wanted to run away and cry. But he’d think she ran from him. With a deep breath, she sorted through the list of her favorites in her mind and threw away several until she thought of the perfect one.
“How about Dracula?” Her voice rasped past the emotion, but she forged ahead. “The old one. It’s totally cheesy, which makes it funny. ‘I vant to suck your blood!’ ” she said with a fake accent.
“Do you?” he asked.
Returning the poker to the rack, he walked toward her, and held out his arm, wrist up. She took it in her hand. His skin was warm beneath her fingers, his pulse steady, and the hair on the other side of his arm was wiry. She stroked her thumb along the inside of his wrist. His breath stuttered. She wondered what he’d do if she kissed him. Desire flooded through her. Never mind him, what would she do?
“Next time,” she said. She was brave, but maybe not that brave, at least not yet.
Slowly, he lowered his arm to his side, but remained close enough his knees brushed hers. His skin was flushed, his eyes ablaze. Heat pulsed between them. After a moment, he stepped away, as if he wasn’t brave enough either. “Do you want popcorn?”
Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.
In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with her family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open in the first place. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.
She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
I’m excited to welcome back Julie Howard today! She’s a sister Rose (published by The Wild Rose Press), and her latest release is part of the series, Spirited Quest Mysteries. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Here’s the scoop on Spirit in Time:
Time travel isn’t real. It can’t be real. But ghost-blogger Jillian Winchester discovers otherwise when an enigmatic spirit conveys her to 1872 to do his bidding.
Jillian finds herself employed as a maid in Sacramento, in an elegant mansion with a famous painting. The artwork reveals another mystery: Why does the man within look exactly like her boyfriend, Mason Chandler?
Morality and sin live side by side, not only in the picture, but also within her. As her transgressions escalate, she races the clock to find the man in the painting, and hunt down a spirit with a disconcerting gift.
But will time be her friend or foe?
A peek between the pages:
“Are you a ghost?” A young girl stood where the guard had been only minutes before. She spoke matter-of-factly, her dark eyes alive with curiosity.
The house was still whole, she was alive, and the world hadn’t ended. Jillian scanned the room for damage, then blinked. This must be a dream. The long dining table—bare just moments ago—was now laid for a meal. Glasses sat upright, forks and spoons lined up in perfect order, and a tall flower arrangement appeared unscathed. A crystal chandelier above the table remained perfectly still.
The guard and Asian man were nowhere in sight.
The girl, dressed neatly in a calf-length white pinafore embellished with pink ribbons, didn’t appear rattled by the cataclysmic jolt.
“What happened?” Jillian asked, still crouched on her knees. “Are you okay?”
“You don’t belong here. Mother will be angry.”
Even though the floor had ceased to shake, the roiling continued in her head. Might this very real looking girl be a spirit? Most apparitions wavered in some manner, their appearances paler and less there than the tangible world around them. This child appeared solid in every way, from the tips of her shiny chestnut hair to the toes of her lace-up black shoes.
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series, and Spirited Quest. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.