Guest Release–Star-Spangled Suspense (a multi-author boxed set)

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A boxed set collection of romantic suspense novels featuring Exciting Tales of Patriotic Heroes from the Past to the Present. Titles included are: Deathwatch by VB Tenery, Circles of Fate by Pamela S Thibodeaux, Patriot Hearts by Tammy Trail and Daring to Live by Mary Vee

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EXCERPT from Circle of Fate by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Todd hung up the phone and walked back to his barracks. It was good to hear Mike Ferel’s voice, and even better to know Shaunna and her mother were well. Nearly three months had passed since he left Fort Benning. Less than twenty-four hours after he arrived at Fort Lewis, the Army quarantined him and the rest of his company and put them into isolation to await departure to Vietnam. For nearly two weeks they stayed quartered together with no outside contact. They lived together, slept together, and worked together to build comradeship with the men they would live with, fight with and, very possibly, die with.

They shared practical jokes, funny stories and lives as each man tried to banish the fear they all felt of going to war. They talked, laughed, and cried for hours on end as each prepared for what would be the toughest test of their strength, courage and faith. When the tension and anticipation of the wait began to work against them, orders came in that they would not be going to the jungles of Vietnam. However, before the cheers and shouts of gratitude died down, several of the men—Todd included—were hand picked and flown to Panama for Jungle Survival, a course designed to train soldiers in the art of guerrilla warfare.

For eight weeks the soldiers lived, ate, slept, and crawled through the jungles of Panama while playing a very real game of war. They learned to look out for themselves and each other and how to survive under some of the toughest circumstances man could invent. When they thought they had the course mastered someone would think up another form of torture to inflict on them and then train them to handle it.

It turned out to be the toughest eight weeks of their lives as day after day officers drilled them to expect the unexpected. They learned the most effective ways to watch their comrades’ backs, and most importantly, they learned the true meaning of the term CYA: cover your anatomy.

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Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!

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Guest Release–Hope’s Dream by Peggy Jaeger

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Hope Kildaire gave up her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner when a car accident killed her father and left her mother an invalid. Working two jobs and caring for her mother leaves the twenty-seven-year-old with no time for fun or relationships. When a law firm representing her paternal grandparents sends her several letters, Hope ignores them. She despises the family who disowned her father and wants nothing to do with them.

Lawyer Tyler Coleman’s job is simply to obtain Hope’s signature on a legal document. Getting it is harder than planned, though, when an unexpected attraction blossoms between them. If Ty is honest with Hope about why he’s in Willow Springs, he’ll fulfill his assignment but may risk hurting her.

The opportunity to have everything she’s ever desired is at Hope’s fingertips. Will her dream come true at the expense of Tyler’s love?

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EXCERPT

He cleared his throat, breaking into her thoughts, the sound barreling around them on the empty street.

“Well.” He buried his hands deeper into his jacket pockets. “I can see for myself you’re fine. You’ve had a full day, so I’ll let you get on home. Thanks again for the great lesson this morning. And for keeping me company while you worked.”

“It was nice to have someone to talk with, so in reality, I should be thanking you. And for seeing that I was safe.”

She wasn’t sure why, but when his cheeks darkened and his chin and gaze dropped down again at her words, she was utterly enchanted.

Without thinking why she shouldn’t, Hope stretched up, intending to kiss his cheek. At the moment right before her lips touched his skin, Tyler lifted his head and turned toward her. The kiss meant for his face landed squarely across his lips instead.

They both went stone still at the contact.

She’d put no heat behind the kiss. After all, it wasn’t as if she were kissing a man she was involved with. No, she’d simply planned it as a sweet way to thank him for being so kind and solicitous toward her, as she would to anyone she considered a friend.

Why, then, didn’t this feel like a chaste kiss between friends?

Why, then, did she feel as if she’d been dropped into a spewing volcano?

And why, then, did the thought of breaking the kiss leave her cold and lonely?

Tyler kept his hands in his pockets, never moving closer, and yet she felt enveloped by him as if he’d wound her into his arms and pulled her against his body. He let out a deep, long breath, the warm air drifting over her face and sending little tingles of…something…straight down her spine. Anticipation? Expectation? Desire? She had no clue, but Hope felt more alive and more aware than she had in years.

A tiny gasp pushed from deep within her when Tyler shifted his head, changing the angle of the kiss.

His lips parted, the taste of hops and barley riding on his breath as she breathed him in. He kept the kiss light, never pushing her into more, giving her all the control of where it went.

Hope had no idea how long they stood there under the bright streetlamp on the empty corner. It could have been a minute. It could have been an hour. The notion briefly blew through her mind that they were out in the open in a town where everyone knew her and liked nothing more to do on long winter nights than gossip. As quick as it came, the knowledge that she didn’t care a whit countered it.

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Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

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Guest Release–The Fourth Victim by Beverley Bateman

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Sara’s emotionally abusive husband dies unexpectedly. She’s struggling to reclaim the intelligent, independent person she was before she married. Now she’s part of a special team, training to help other women.

Mac is responsible for training women in special ops, so they are prepared in their challenge to save other women. When he meets Sara, sparks fly between them. He wants her to quit the training and let him take care of her.

Sara graduates. Her first assignment is to save Sara’s daughter from a serial killer. Can Mac step back in this dangerous situation? Can Sara and Mac resolve their issues?

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EXCERPT

The office said he’d had a heart attack. Was he alive? Did she want him to be? What if her husband had to stay home for a few weeks to recuperate? Palms sweating, Sara’s breath came in short, shallow bursts at the thought.

The taxi jerked to a stop in front of the hospital emergency entrance.

Sara fumbled through her purse and counted out her meager number of dollar bills. Gordon didn’t allow her to have a credit card and he only allowed her to have a small amount of cash. She didn’t have enough money to pay the taxi.

“I’m so sorry. I left home without any cash. I…I … Would you take a check?” Tears spilled over and trickled down her flushed cheeks.

The driver spun around. A short stubby finger waved at the sign over the rearview mirror. “Look lady, it says right there – No Checks.”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry. My husband’s had a heart attack and I … I don’t know what to do.” Sara ran her fingers through her hair and scrunched the tight bun at her neck.

The driver shook his head. “Aw, shit. Go ahead, lady. Write the check.”

Sara pulled the single crumpled check Gordon allowed her carry for emergencies out of her purse. When she touched the check a vision of Gordon floated in front of her.

She froze and rapidly blinked her eyes. She only saw the ghosts of dead people. Gordon didn’t believe her and forbid her to ever mention it.

Could he really be dead?

“Gordon?” she whispered.

“Lady, are you writing that check or not?”

“Yes, sorry.” Sara scribbled her signature on the bottom of the check. “Please, fill it in, and give yourself a generous tip. Thank you, thank you so much.” She clutching her worn purse to her chest, slid out of the cab, and scurried through the emergency room doors.

What if he was dead? She didn’t have any money. Gordon did all the finances and never shared anything with her. How would she manage?

Twenty years ago she could have handled it. Could she do it again? But he couldn’t be dead. Gordon would never allow that to happen.

His face flitted in front of her, fixed in an angry glare.

He had to be dead or she wouldn’t be seeing him. He didn’t want to be dead. He didn’t want her to be free. If he thought she could see him he’d be furious.

Sara shuffled toward the reception desk. She glanced over her shoulder, searching for some sign of Gordon, listening for his voice, waiting for him to yell at her. She couldn’t believe he was really dead, even though she had seen him. She clung to the edge of the transition counter, her head down, chewed on her lower lip and waited to be noticed.

Finally a brusque voice snapped, “Can I help you?”

Sara looked up to see a heavy set, older woman in a loose blue top. The woman’s thick dark brows met in a v in the middle of her forehead.

“I’m sorry, I …I’m looking for my husband. His office phoned to say he’d been brought here.” Sara shrunk into her body.

“Name?” the woman commanded.

“Gordon, Gordon Peters.” Sara stared at her worn black oxfords, then at the scuffed, gray linoleum with the red, blue and yellow lines that led to different areas. Maybe she shouldn’t have come. Maybe she should have waited for Gordon to call and tell her whether she should be here or not. But if he was dead she would have to make her own decisions. Her pulse raced. Her head pounded. For the last nineteen years she had never made a decision. Gordon made all of them for her.

“When was he admitted?” The woman reminded Sara of a sergeant major.

“I’m not sure, less than an hour ago. They told me to meet him here. Maybe he’s been discharged already?” She chewed her thumbnail. If Gordon had been discharged he’d be furious at her for spending all that money on a taxi. But she’d seen his ghost.

Tension twisted her stomach into knots. The pain caused her to clutch her purse tightly against her abdomen. She needed to get home and start dinner. She’d have to take a bus. Did she have enough money? She opened her purse.

The woman moved to a second pile of folders and pulled one out. “You’re his wife?”

Sara nodded. “Yes. Can I see him?”

A sob slipped out. If she didn’t find see him soon, he’d be furious. He’d think she was too stupid to even find him in a hospital and he’d be right.

His ghost floated in front of her. This time confusion mixed with his anger.

“Have a seat, Mrs. Peters. I’ll have the doctor speak to you.”

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Beverley Bateman is a Canadian author now living in Medicine Hat, Alberta, with her husband and Shiba Inu dog. She’s exchanged the Okanagan vineyards and orchards for ranches. Winters she’s a snowbird. She writes the latest romantic suspense in both places. She enjoys reading, watercolor painting and the Native American flute.

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Backlist promotion–Unlocked Treasure

A Halloween-set romance in ebook, audio, and anthology (print too)

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Will a prophecy keep a lonely woman from accepting the promise of adventure?

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Aleen MacRae blames the lure of the sea for breaking apart first her family then her engagement. When her interest is caught by a man she sees both in person and in a dream, she resists—afraid to believe in her aunt’s prediction that her future is tied to the sea.

Braden Williams is on the hunt for treasure buried centuries earlier by Rhode Island pirates. His search brings him to the property where Aleen lives. Collaboration on genealogy research draws them closer, and Braden steers her toward his true passion–sailing.

Attending a party with Braden’s family lets her glimpse what she’s been missing. An unexpected discovery before her date with Braden at the Halloween Midnight Organ Recital forces a decision. Will Aleen play things safe or accept what this free-spirited man offers?

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EXCERPT

Ah, the story of her life—practically invisible. The reminder his first sighting had been of her bikini-clad backside made her blush. Still didn’t change the facts. Aleen squared her shoulders. “I remember, but the Manor grounds are still closed.” Should she be nervous about being alone with this stranger, especially one who ignored posted rules?

“Sorry for the intrusion. Let me start over.” Smiling, he approached and extended his right hand. “My name’s Braden Williams.”

Aleen bit her lower lip, but accepted his hand. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Aleen MacRae.” At the moment their hands clasped, she felt warmth flooding her fingers. With a jerk, she released her grip, tingling sensations running along her skin. Immediately, the scent of fresh air and summer breezes wafted her way. Definitely a man of the sea. Just where I foretold your future lies. Whispers of her great-aunt Zsofika’s prophecy trickled through Aleen’s thoughts. At the memory, her cheeks flamed with heat.

“Wow.” Frowning, Braden flexed his hand and narrowed his gaze then dropped it to his flexing fingers. “That was bizarre.”

“Static electricity, from all that wind yesterday.” A reasonable explanation. In the back of her mind, Aleen could hear Zsofika scoff, “Static schmatic. A connection like that is destiny.”

“Well…” His gaze searched her face. “Aleen—hey, that’s pretty, like the direction alee.” A wide smile exposed even teeth.

Her own smile dimmed. Like I’ve never heard that before. “Thanks.” This guy was not charming his way around the rules. “Sorry, but you’ll need to come back when the gardens are open for visitors. That’s Wednesdays through—”

“Yeah, I read the sign.” He gave a dismissive wave then turned to gaze back at the main house. “But I just needed five minutes to check out some dimensions and the lot layout.”

“So, you woke up this morning and just decided to start out your week by trespassing?”

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Hauntings in the Garden, Volume Two, Anthology including Unlocked Treasure and:

Love Her Like the Devil by Stacy Dawn

Caper Magic by Veronica Lynch

ShriekWeek by Anne Knol

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Guest release–Not a Chance by Maureen Bonatch

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Hope just wants to be normal—too bad that will never happen.

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The last thing Hope Hallows wants is to become the latest headline. Living in a town that likes secrets, she prefers to keep hers hidden. Avoiding a nosy reporter’s questions about her ability to infuse euphoria or despair with a single touch, and those who crave this bliss, is nothing new. But having her brother’s annoying girlfriend, Berta, go missing is—especially when it makes Hope suspect number one.

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EXCERPT

“I swear you have a death wish. Are you looking for any excuse to use your abilities again?”

I started at the ferocity in his remark and straightened in defense. He was supposed to be my ally, but I should’ve anticipated his reaction. “I had no choice.”

“Only because you chose to take her in the woods in the first place.” The tiny haze of lights ignited around him as his frustration built.

I pushed my hands in my pockets to prevent from reaching for him for my own selfish comfort. He had to understand. Griffith was the only one who understood me. He was my rock in this ever-changing town. “I had to help look for Berta. There isn’t a choice in everything. I couldn’t let Chance go alone. Yes, I went because it was my idea in the first place, but also because he’s my brother. It’s not safe for him.”

His gaze locked with mine. “You didn’t worry about yourself? Or consider how much worry you’ve caused me? Damn it Hope, you, of all people, should realize what lurks undercover in the daylight has little fear at night and outside of town.”

Griffith always saw right through my petty motives. The trait was what I loved and hated about him.

 

maureenbonatchMaureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line.

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Guest Release–Cowboys, Cattle and Cutthroats By Gini Rifkin

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Ochessa is heartbroken when she finds her brother fatally wounded. His dying words are about a childhood puzzle box, missing legal documents, and a drifter named Nicodemus Breedlove. Ochessa vows to find Will’s murderer—and the man Will described.

No stranger to trouble, Nic’s only concerns are his Stetson, his mule Sadie, and a long-awaited chance at retribution. After gaining Ochessa’s trust, and taking the job she offers, life gets more complicated.

Weathering a stampede, a gully washer, and a pack of outlaws, they locate the killer. As Nic’s quest for justice, and Ochessa’s vendetta for Will play out, bullets fly…

Not everybody’s gonna make it out alive.

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EXCERPT

She wanted so badly to be loved and needed. And she wanted Nic to be the man to fulfill those emotions. What made him special she couldn’t—maybe shouldn’t—define. But like a half-remembered dream, an ethereal connection existed between the two of them and right now that seemed all that mattered.

When he halted to stand before her, his gaze turned hungry, and he eased the hat from her head and lowered his mouth to hers. Accepting the full depth of his kiss, she braced her hands against his chest, gripping his shirt with both fists—she never wanted him to leave.

He pulled away first. “Ochessa,” he whispered, in a husky voice. “I can’t go on wanting you without knowing if you feel the same.”

“I want you too. You know I do. But I’m scared, and I don’t even know what it is I’m scared of.”

“How about change. Or the future or the raw need I feel in you. Sometimes I’m scared too—and lonely.”

At his declaration, part of her fears melted.

“You don’t trust my intentions.” He spoke the words that always sat like a dark harbinger in the recesses of her mind.

“No, I do trust you. Really I do.” She was amazed at her own admission, but the decision felt right. “I just need time to sort out my life.”

“Well, time is about all I got.  And I can bear the wait as long as I know what it is I’m waiting for.”

If joy could be counted as a tangible commodity, she suddenly felt rich beyond compare.

Their gazes met and held until it seemed the writing on their souls told the same story, and what bound them emotionally could no longer be separated by Man or Destiny, but only by their failure to take a chance.

Gini Rifkin

Gini Rifkin’s characters are courageous and passionate, and when they meet sparks fly, while danger often threatens.  Her settings include the American West, Medieval and Victorian England, and contemporary fantasy. When not writing, she has the privilege of caring for her rescue animals including ducks, geese, goats, rabbits, donkeys, and cats.

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The inspiration behind A Christmas Cowboy to Keep–a contemporary western collection

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I posed the question “What is the inspiration for your story?” to the seven authors who contributed to this collection currently on pre-order for only 99 cents to release October 25th. Here are their answers:

Christmas, Liberty, and the Three Minute Man

Carra Copelin: The inspiration for my story came from my brother who has a much more colorful past than I do. He’s also a Country Western Gospel singer/songwriter, who writes some amazing songs. Last year he helped me with an idea for a book I was writing at the time and I asked him for some insight into a character he had helped me develop. I wanted to be sure I had the flavor of the personality right in the dialogue. He said, “Sis, I don’t know anything about writing books. I’m just a three minute man.” Well, I knew I had to write a book around that statement. That’s when I came up with the story about Liberty Hart and Daniel Layman. It’s a fun read about a sassy event planner from Nashville and a sexy cowboy songwriter from Texas. I think you’ll like it.

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A Christmas Carole

Andrea Downing:  You say, ‘Christmas book’ and the first one that pops into my mind is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  So what could be more inspirational than that?  Of course, transferring ideas from the story into a contemporary western romance is another matter. The story wasn’t going to be paranormal so out went the visiting ghosts for a start.  And could someone actually be named Scrooge? I played around with the spelling and came up with Schrugge—if you google ‘pronouncing the name Schrugge’ Scrooge comes up. In other methods, the name comes out as pronounced both Shrug or Screw-gy.  Since I have a friend whose last name is pronounced three different ways by three branches of her family, I felt justified in choosing ‘Shrug.’ As for the rest of it, well, there are Staves instead of ‘Parts’ as per Dickens, a tiny Tim, and definitely a look at Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come.  I hope I’ve used just enough of Dickens to give a nod toward that most well-respected story.

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The Peppermint Tree

Kristy McCaffrey:  The main inspiration, initially, was the Christmas theme. I wanted a fun title that conveyed the holiday, so I came up with THE PEPPERMINT TREE first, not really knowing how I was going to work it into the story. I also decided early on that my heroine, Skye Mallory, would be a lawyer. This caused me no end of angst because I know nothing about lawyers LOL. Time to research. The rest was fleshed out during car rides with my husband. He’s not a writer, but he’s usually a good sport in helping me brainstorm. He gave me the idea for shifting property lines because true north moves ever so slightly over time, as well as insights into the types of vehicles the hero and heroine would drive. The steamy love scene in the country club bathroom facilities came about because I was recently visiting my in-laws in Florida and their club restrooms were so spacious—practically mini-apartments. Seemed like the perfect spot for a romantic encounter. I really had a good time writing this novella, and I sure hope readers will enjoy reading it.

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The Devil’s Christmas Kiss

Devon McKay: The inspiration for my story came from my 3 year old granddaughter. She was telling me of a boy who likes to pick on her during play dates. After a two hour long conversation, I summed up that Connor pulls her hair, especially when she wears pigtails, steals her baby, and likes to make her cry, all of which was accompanied by over-the-top dramatic sighs (she is seriously either going to be an actress or an author). When she finished her story, I suggested maybe taking her to another play date group. Her response was crocodile tears and a loud, “No! Connors my boyfriend and I’m going to marry him one day.”

For some reason, I thought this would make a perfect romance.

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Slay Bells

Hildie McQueen: The inspiration for my story came from my last visit to Wyoming and Montana and my marriage. I can definitely relate with Carmen, the heroine in that she would have never settled in Missoula or even considered it, if it wasn’t for falling in love.

As a young woman I would have nixed the idea of life in the small town where my husband grew up. He was raised on the border of Montana and Idaho and I lived in San Diego, CA.

Nowadays, if my husband were to ask me to move to Montana, I’d do it in a heartbeat!

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The Best Christmas

Hebby Roman: The inspiration for my story was a movie/documentary about rehab ranches that help handicapped and/or troubled teenagers. I wanted to show a heroic, counselor-type cowboy who ran a non-profit converted dude ranch near Bandera, TX, the self-proclaimed “Cowboy Capital of the World.” I wanted to depict a heroine, who was not married to the son’s father and is an immigrant, and the struggles she has gone through, keeping custody and contact with her son, once he becomes older and is being mentally and emotionally manipulated by his father, who is super wealthy and has a lot of clout.

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 Counting Down to Christmas

Patti Sherry-Crews: I was inspired by the Christmas spirit: family, traditions, and giving all tied up together. Is there another holiday that evokes as much nostalgia as Christmas? I put all the sights, scents, and details I associate with the holiday in my story.

There is no one who embodied that spirit more than my Grandma Alma did. I drew my inspiration from her. I also named a character after her.

Early in December, we’d help her bring down all the boxes of ornaments. After the tree was set up and decorated (always a seven foot Douglas Fir) there were dozens of cookies to be made. Making and decorating cookies was an all-family affair, where we’d sit around her large kitchen table and work together, using cookie cutters and recipes that had been in the family for generations.

My grandparents belonged to a small church in their neighborhood. I have memories of walking into the side door and heading up the dark stairway to the community room at the top of the stairs for the holiday bazaar. I have my heroine, Melody, walk up those same stairs, and Alma is the first person she sees.

Grandma Alma lived to be 96. Family does change. It got harder to get everyone together as people started their own families and moved away, so we had to find different ways to celebrate the holidays. I remember in later years debating whether to get a tree for Grandma or not. Were we forcing a Christmas tree on her for our benefit or hers? Still, every year until she was gone, we got down all the decorations and set up a 7-foot tree for her.

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Amazon pre-order link for October 25th release of 99 cent collection

Contest for Small-Town Romance Titles

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I’m participating in a contest where two lucky people will be chosen from those who enter to win a book from each participating author. Hosted by BookSweeps, this contest run through October 24th.

My book Laced by Love, is one of 40 ebooks in the giveaway. Other participating authors include Shirleen Davies, Cathy McDavid, Kathye Quick, Charlene Raddon, and many more.

Free reads go to every entrant and an ereader is the grand prize.

Good luck!

Join the fun here!

Guest post–Progressing a Character through a Series by Jean Lamb

 

“In my end is my beginning”—Mary, Queen of Scots.

When working with a series character who changes and grows during the series, it would be well to keep in mind how he or she is going to die–or turn into an Immortal God, a saint, or other extreme change in the character that will keep you from using him or her for most of the time. We know that death isn’t always the end for some people.

Some writers do this progression very well; Tiffany Aching, in Terry Pratchett’s series that begins with WEE FREE MEN, grows from a child just discovering her powers to a fully-fledged witch stabilized in her Granny Aching’s hut on the Chalk—and at the same time gives another character, Granny Weatherwax, a proper send-off. Some writers freeze their series characters, and that’s their choice; but a lot of fans enjoy the first method better, because over time, they become invested more in the character’s progress through life than if the character never changes. Many love Rand al’ Thor better than say, Conan (though even Conan eventually becomes a king).

How many of us agonized with Raistlin during his long death-bed? I know I did. But fewer would have cared if he had not grown and changed during the Dragonlance Chronicles in which he played a part. How many of us cried when Granny Weatherwax cleaned her privy for the second time, because we knew why?

This is why I have planned out my series about Tameron dayn Sidian from his beginning in HATCHLING, through THE DRAGON’S PEARL, and to his eventual end. It will be a long journey, and the details will change along the way. I won’t be locked into a specific scene, though I can see it in my head. Characters do funny things when you’re not looking, and trying to force them into a mold they outgrew in book #5 is a mistake. But I know the flavor of his end, and that is as sure a guide as any writer needs.

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Tameron dayn Sidian is the only son of the Protector of Fiallyn Mor. All his relatives, and those of the ruling class of this country, have magic.

But he doesn’t. How can he be his father’s heir without the gifts that would make him worthy? How can he make sure the common people are heard?

Wait, there’s more. He finds out he does have one special gift, but it will mean he’ll live the rest of his life as a prisoner, with all his partners chosen for him.

What can he do now? Find out how he discovers what he must finally do. And someday he’ll know what all his dreams of dragons are about.

Hatchling is the first volume of a multi-volume series titled “Tameron and the Dragon.”

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EXCERPT

Stine attacked. Tameron barely blocked her sword in time and gasped for breath. Full armor was heavy, and he wasn’t used to it yet. The battle-hardened old woman facing him thrust again. Tam stepped to his right, and let the sharp-edged metal scrape along his shield.

He struck back. Stine beat his assault out of line, but he recovered quickly. He raised his blade again, only to falter when she whirled and punched his sword-arm with the top of her shield. The sword left his grip and clattered to the floor. Tameron desperately flung his own shield up and crouched down to retrieve his weapon under its cover, but a blow from her boot knocked him over and left him defenseless. He twisted over to grab at her ankles, but she easily evaded him.

“Not bad, not bad,” Stine said, letting the point of her blade droop towards the floor. She gave the sword to an assistant and offered him a hand up. “When you’re older and stronger, this won’t be so easy for me.”

Tameron dayn Sidian a’ Piran wished he was older and stronger now, as he struggled to his feet. He’d be fifteen in two months, but glumly knew it’d be years before he could dream of besting the Protector’s arms-mistress. It helped to have fine armor and a sword made at Diesa Tower, but not nearly as much as he hoped for on days like this in the high-ceilinged practice room. The only privilege he had as the Protector’s son was having a turn with her at every session.

Tam bowed in respect to Commander Stine, and stood in the back of the spacious room with the rest of the novice guards. He relaxed as Stine picked on someone else to humiliate.

Lorin, one of the other trainees, whispered in sympathy, “Just wait till your powers come in! Then you can get back at her, even if you’re not as strong a mage as your father.”

Tam smiled. “I know. If my Element is air, then I can read her mind and figure out what she’s going to do next. If it’s earth, then I’ll make her armor too heavy for her.” It was only fair, considering what a weight his armor was for him.

Lorin sighed. “But with your luck, it’ll be water and you’ll have to give up fighting!”

“On days like this I don’t know if I’d mind!” Tameron said. Healers were sacred. Not even Stine would dare strike at him then. Besides, everyone knew that the gift of healing could also bring death.

Lorin shrugged. “Of course, you could get lucky and end up with fire!”

They both smiled. Several other trainees sighed, the look in their eyes giving away their own wishes. Tameron could think of quite a few pranks to play when his magic finally emerged, and knew he wasn’t alone.

To be fair, Commander Stine was never cruel, but he knew he wasn’t the only one who would like to find a way to defeat her without having to work for years to get better. Most of the other novice guards were older than he was, and already knew they had too little of any one Element to give them magical powers.

Was he going to be like them? It was said that talents like his father’s showed themselves when the body changed from childhood. He was growing fast enough that he sometimes dreamed of what might happen during his first Festival next Midsummer, but he hadn’t seen any trace of wizardry in himself so far. Time was passing quickly. Soon everyone else would begin to wonder if he was going to have the powers that separated the rulers of Fiallyn Mor from the rest of the people.

After the practice session, he bathed and changed. Surely he’d learn which Element would rule his life soon. Some, like his father or the Guardian of the North, had the aid of two. His own silver hair and gray eyes marked him as the child of wizards, while high cheekbones told of a trace of Outsider blood. No foreigners were able to enter this land through Wizardwall without strong magic of their own. Surely that meant he had a strong potential as well. After all, his four brothers and sisters had had magic before their deaths.

As soon as he dressed, he decided he’d waited long enough. He had to know! Tameron received permission from his tutor to skip a study session. He presented himself to Coris Mimn, the Lord Protector’s dark-haired, dark-skinned friend, and requested an audience with his father as soon as it was convenient. He waited nearly an hour, but he was used to it. In fact, he was lucky the Protector was even in residence here in Kelemath, rather than on progress in some other city.

It was almost sunset when he was ushered into the small sitting-room behind the large audience chamber. Tameron was proud that he was allowed to bear a weapon into his father’s presence. Only favorites like Mimn and Commander Stine had that privilege as well.

Lord Sidian dayn Riallan a’ Piran, the Protector of Fiallyn Mor, was a tall, blue-eyed man with red hair turning white at the temples. His long, slim hands caressed his curlwood walking stick, which had a brilliant ruby inset at the top. His bright blue robes were trimmed with pale fur, though he rarely felt the cold.

Tameron bent his knee in brief homage, then asked, “Father…I will be fifteen this Midwinter. I wonder…how will I know when I get my powers? Will there be problems because I’m so late? And how will I know what element I’m going to be strong in?”

Jean Lamb

Jean Lamb is a 60-something woman with five novels on Amazon. Her story “Galley Slave” in MAN/KZIN WARS VIII was on the preliminary list for the Nebula in 1994, but she was seduced by the pretty songs of fantasy and romance in novel form. She’s been married for 44 years to a chemistry teacher and lives in a small town in Central Oregon. She has 30 books left to write.

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Guest promotion–One Red Shoe by Diane Burton

41126920 - driving on an empty asphalt road through the cultivated fields and single tree at idyllic sunny day.

BLURB

It Happened One Night meets Knight and Day

When elementary teacher Daria Mason left Iowa for a writers’ conference in New York City, she didn’t expect to come home with a wounded spy. Sam Jozwiak works for a shadow agency that gathers intel vital to U.S. security. From the moment he steals digital files from a Russian Mafia kingpin, Murphy’s Law takes over. No matter how he covers his tracks, the kingpin’s assassins find him. What’s worse than getting shot in the butt? Accepting help from an Iowa tourist. Thus, begins a road trip that takes Sam and Daria cross country with the assassins right behind them.

PRE-ORDER LINK for October 22, 2018 release (revision of previous title released by The Wild Rose Press)

EXCERPT

For the second time in her life, Daria Mason came face-to-face with a man pointing a weapon at her. A pervert, with unzipped jeans, wielded a green box knife. Because she’d raced into the restroom without checking out the situation, he now stood between her and the exit.

She was at the end of the proverbial rope. After walking in circles, she finally found a restroom and nobody was stopping her from using it. Especially not someone playing copycat with that guy in the movie who wore one red shoe.

“I am having a really bad day,” she declared in the don’t cross me voice she used on her brothers. As soon as her words echoed off the hideous pink and black tiled walls and floor, she lowered her voice. “You are in the wrong place, mister. Now zip up and get out.” She pointed straight-armed toward the door.

The man shook his head and set the flimsy knife on the counter. “Lady, you have more guts than sense. You are in the wrong place, at the wrong time.” His voice was even softer than hers. He eyed her with a look so dark and intense it paralyzed her like a hawk freezes its prey. She swallowed past the fear in her throat, certain it sounded like a gulp.

Diane Burton 2-for July 10

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

 

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by author Linda Carroll-Bradd