Guest Interview—Terri Wangard

Tell us a bit about you and your background

I’ve loved libraries since I was a little girl and we visited the North Branch of the Green Bay library. My favorite books included the Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka stories. I earned a Master of Library Science degree and worked for a few years in libraries before joining the family business full time. We publish Classic Boating magazine.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

History that entertains and enlightens. And that’s what I hope my stories do.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

A little of both. For my first story, I had the characters. For the next two stories in the series, the plots were obvious, but not until I had the characters did the plots get fully developed.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

Since I write World War II stories, I listen to World War II music. My favorite songs include “Comin’ In On a Wing and a Prayer” and “The White Cliffs of Dover.” I also listen the soundtracks like “Pearl Harbor” and instrumentals by Jonn Serrie.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, but before I knew I would be writing about those locations. I’ve spent a little time in Germany and Sweden. Now I wish I’d taken more pictures, or could go back.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

After writing Friends and Enemies, which released in January, I started writing a contemporary, but an editor at an ACFW conference suggested I would need a series to be offered a contract. The story was set aside and I’ve been doing historical ever since.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

I didn’t get into Pinterest until after I’d written this series. Now I have Pinterest boards for each book. As I get ideas for my work in progress or future projects, I’ve been collecting pins in private boards. I tend to spend way too much time looking at pretty pictures!

What resources do you use for picking character names?

From my first book, I needed lots of German names, so I used my family tree. For my next books, I used names I liked and could live with during the year-long writing process. I have changed names or spellings. For No Neutral Ground, I noticed in cemeteries that “Jenny” was often spelled “Jennie” on older tombstones, so I made that change.

No Neutral Ground

 

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After his father divorces his mother because of her Jewish ancestry, Rafe and the rest of his family flee Germany. As a B-17 navigator, he returns to Europe. Flying missions against his former homeland arouses emotions that surprise Rafe. Despite being rejected, he is troubled by the destruction of Germany and his heart still cries for his father’s love.

Sweden may be neutral, but it’s full of intrigue. Jennie assists the OSS at the American legation in Sweden. She thought she’d be doing passive, behind-the-scenes work. Instead, she’s pushed into an active role to gain intelligence and frustrate the Germans.

How can Rafe and Jennie succeed in their dangerous roles when they are so conflicted?

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EXCERPT

The wind sliced right through Jennie Lindquist’s coat. So warm in Illinois, it now felt as thin as a pillowcase. Late winter was the wrong time of year to cross the North Atlantic. The temperature hovered around ten degrees, but with the wind and the ship’s speed, it seemed far below zero.

Her gloved fingers had grown stiff from the cold. She had to keep sketching, though, or she would lose her model.

The soldier continued to stare at the spot where the Statue of Liberty had long since faded from view in their wake. The quivering of his chin was his only movement.

Jennie perched on a stowage bin. After adding several pencil strokes to shade the edge of his arm, she held up her drawing and studied it through narrowed eyes. Had she captured his forlornness?

It would have to do. She shoved her sketch pad and pencil into her tote bag. Plenty of time remained aboard the ocean liner-turned-troopship to accomplish her goal of sketching a series capturing life aboard ship.

Overhead, the last escorting U.S. Navy patrol plane dipped its wings and turned back to New York. The Queen Mary was on her own to cross the North Atlantic and elude any skulking German submarines eager to hurtle a torpedo into her. Jennie scanned the horizon. Nothing but endless waves.

Ice crystals sprinkled down, luring her gaze upward. Lifeboats hung suspended overhead. A flexing chain caused more ice to break loose. Dismal gray camouflage paint hid the Cunard Line’s signature colors of red, white, and black. Behind her, one of the ship’s funnels belched smoke as the ocean liner charged full speed ahead at thirty knots. At least the frigid wind prevented soot from drifting down on the military personnel crowding the deck.

An officer standing ten feet away didn’t seem to mind the arctic blast as he raised his face to it. Jennie avoided contact with the military men. Her father had warned her to be wary of their intentions.

This one, however, tempted her. His profile presented classic lines an artist would love to paint. Portraits weren’t her specialty, but, my, oh my, his handsome features practically begged her to try her hand at capturing his likeness. Below the edge of his cap gleamed close-cropped blond hair; his eyes, when he turned his head, shone a startling blue. His heavy coat failed to hide broad shoulders tapering to a slim waist. To her eye, he presented the epitome of male perfection. Did the inner man match the gorgeous outer appearance?

Stray snowflakes swirled about him, and he brushed them away. She set aside Dad’s advice and invaded the solitude surrounding him. “You must be a northerner to be enjoying this glacial wind.”

He straightened to his full height, at least six feet tall, and settled his gaze on her. A quick grin lit his face, and her numb fingers itched to start sketching. “With a choice between enjoying the invigorating sea air or the warm, uh, unventilated air inside the ship, the cold air won.”

“Unventilated air?” Jennie laughed. “How polite.”

His smile came easily, as though he was used to wearing it.

“Someone on the last voyage must have been quite seasick in the room I’m assigned to. The smell was bad enough to drive me into this gale.” Looking back out to sea, he hunched his shoulders and tilted his head to the right, then the left. Weak sunlight glinted off white-caps as the morning overcast broke up, but the restless waves continued to batter themselves against the ship’s hull. He maintained his grip on the railing. “The way the ocean’s churning, we may have a lot more gastronomic upheavals. And to think, I used to enjoy being in a sailing club.”

“Did you sail on the ocean?”

“Sail, no, although I’ve been on a previous ocean voyage. Rivers or the North Sea was where I mostly sailed, but” ― he glanced back at the milling crowd of servicemen ― “we weren’t packed in tight like this.”

The North Sea? Wasn’t that in Europe? Jennie grabbed the railing as the Queen Mary veered to port. Every eight minutes, the ship zigzagged to avoid a potential submarine’s crosshairs. She’d timed the turns.

His voice held an unfamiliar accent. It wasn’t English. He’d been on an ocean voyage, singular, and he’d sailed on the North Sea. He must be from Europe, maybe from a country overrun by Hitler’s army. He should have some stories to tell.

The cold and the pressing crowd of soldiers faded into the background. “Where are you from?”

She leaned forward for his reply.

“Milwaukee.”

“Milwaukee?” She stepped back. So much for hearing about foreign lands. “Really? I’m from Chicago.”

His gaze roved over her. “You’re not in uniform. What’s a civilian doing on a troopship?”

Jennie straightened to her five-foot, six-inch height. “I’m joining my parents in Sweden. My dad’s a military air attaché based at the American legation, where he works with interned American airmen. He came home on leave for the holidays and took my mom back with him in January. Now I’m going, too, to help out.”

“My grandparents came from Sweden. Do you speak the language?”

“Enough to ask for help if I get lost.” She laughed at his widened eyes. “Yes, I speak Swedish. Maybe not as fluently as a native, but I have Swedish grandparents, too. My mom’s been pen pals all her life with a cousin whom we hope to meet.” She tugged her hat down more securely and retied her scarf before the wind pulled it free. “Do you have relatives there?”

“Opa’s brother, my grandfather’s brother, lives on the west coast of Sweden.”

“The west coast. Highly unlikely I’ll be able to pay him a call and tell him I met you.” As a group of rowdy soldiers brushed past them and eyed her, Jennie stepped closer to her new acquaintance and pulled her coat’s collar tighter.

She turned back to face his puzzled perusal.

“There are twelve thousand troops onboard.” He looked around the deck. “Are civilian quarters still available?”

“Well, I heard about the accommodations used by Prime Minister Churchill when he sails, but somebody already claimed those.” She could get used to his grin. “Did you know there’s a hospital unit onboard? I’m billeted with the nurses.”

A soldier stumbled hard into the officer, who muttered something under his breath that didn’t sound like English.

She stared at him. “You said something in neither English nor Swedish.”

He looked at her for a long moment, and his relaxed posture stiffened. “I am Rafe Martell, second lieutenant and navigator in the United States Army Air Force. In a more peaceful time, I had another name and lived in Germany. But then Germany decided I wasn’t good enough to be a German, and America offered me a new home.”

A hint of challenge gleamed in his eyes.

Why would Germany not want him?

“I’m Jennie Lindquist.”

“Jennie Lindquist? Good Swedish name. Do you sing?”

“Excuse me?”

“Sing. Have you not heard of Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale? My great-grandparents heard her sing and my grandfather says they insisted they heard an angel.”

The ship lurched to starboard, causing Rafe to stagger against the rail and inhale sharply.

Jennie grinned. So he wanted to know if she could sing? Now was the time to demonstrate her ability. “Rock a bye airman, on the ship’s deck. When the ship rolls, the airman gets sick.”

A startled laugh burst from Rafe. Tears welled in his eyes ― from the wind? ―   and he used both hands to whisk them away. The childlike gesture was endearing.

“May I ask why Germany didn’t want you?”

He stared out to sea as though he wouldn’t answer. Why should he? His experiences were none of her business. Then his gaze probed her soul, and she resisted the urge to squirm.

“I’m half Jewish.”

His clipped answer was totally unexpected. Jennie had read newspaper reports about the Night of Broken Glass a few years ago, when the German people destroyed Jewish property. The pictures in the newsreels had been stunning. Hard to imagine such crime could be committed by civilized people in this modern era. Editorials speculated the destruction was inflicted by members of the Nazi Party and most Germans hadn’t approved. However it happened, Jewish lives and livelihoods had been ruined. That’s what he’d faced? She hugged herself to stop a shiver.

His look dared her to say something. What could she say? He didn’t resemble the people shown in the pictures.

“You don’t look Jewish.” She cringed at her rude reply, but a smile stretched across Rafe’s face.

“I agree. I should have been pictured on Aryan propaganda posters instead of being forced to run for my life.” He bounced his fist on the rail. “I had no idea my mother was Jewish until I was expelled from the Hitler Youth. That’s a Nazi version of the Boy Scouts. To suddenly be lumped with a social group I had no relationship to or understanding of…” He paused for a moment as he searched the horizon. He shook his head. “It was a shock.”

“How did you get away?” She might be probing an unhealed wound, but she might never have the chance to talk to someone from Germany again.

“My grandfather is a partner in a Dutch flower bulb business. I arrived in Amsterdam within two weeks of my disgrace, supposedly as an apprentice. The next week my grandparents, mother, sister, and brother arrived. The following summer, in 1937, we boarded the Statendam and never looked back.” His grin returned. “And as of last summer, I am a citizen of a country where the nationalities are mixed up and melted together.”

“What about your father?”

“He divorced us to keep his job.”

Jennie opened her mouth to ask him to repeat that, but Rafe’s flat tone hadn’t invited questions. Bitterness, anger, and hurt glittered in his eyes. His jaw shifted as though he battled his emotions.

She looked out to sea to give him time to himself, and they stood in silence.

What was it like to have a father who would turn his back on his family? And what was life like for Jews in Europe? They were so far away. Jews in America had it better, didn’t they? Did she know any? There may have been some among her colleagues at the art museum where she’d worked. How could she be so ignorant? She massaged her brow as her head began to ache.

Terri Wangard

Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.

Connect with Terri:
www.terriwangard.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorTerriWangard
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/terriwangard/

Guest Release—Ghost In The Rain by Marie Treanor

GhostInRain_CVR_SML

A haunted Highland house, battered by storms and murder…

Arriving at remote Invershiel House in the Scottish Highlands, researcher Kate Yorke is fascinated by the reclusive and troubled owner – notorious rocker Dan Stewart. Dan is haunted by the deaths of his fellow band members, especially his ex- lover Islay Lamont, whose shade seems to flit around the in the rain.

Then Kate trips over a dead body which inexplicably vanishes. It becomes a race against time to find the identity of the body and the killer. And to discover if she and Danny have any kind of future together. Or even at all…

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EXCERPT

I had to acknowledge that my peace was churned up by his unexpected presence here. It wasn’t even an unpleasant feeling; in fact it felt rather…exciting. But it was disturbing.

I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes. I suspected Dan Stewart carried such disturbance wherever he went. If I thought about it, the whole house felt different now. As if its peace had gone too; as if it had sprung to life, eager, waiting.

Mocking my own silly fantasy, I stood abruptly and paced around the room, trying to recover my lost concentration. I suspected I was just tired and would work much faster and much better after a good night’s sleep.

I paused by the window to watch the storm. Although the thunder had stopped, the wind and rain were still blasting the trees and rattling the window. Close-up, I could feel the draught through my thick sweater. On impulse, I retrieved my phone from my bag and tried to capture the raging storm on its camera. But it looked too tame on the screen, not deep or dark enough, no real movement in those black clouds still scudding and swirling across the sky. I wished I could paint. For a moment, I even wished I could be part of it, to go outside in it again. There was nothing to stop me, except common sense.

I smiled to myself and lowered the phone, just as a movement in the garden below caught my eye. Someone was out in this. Someone not remotely dressed for it either. Through the darkness and the almost opaque mist of rain, I could make out only that it seemed to be a woman wearing only some kind of floating, white, wispy garment, more like the loungewear of wealthy women of past centuries than anything anyone would wear today for any purpose. The odd garment shimmered as the figure glided across the lawn, impossibly graceful.

On impulse, I raised my phone again and snapped.

Perhaps she moved too quickly. Nothing of her showed on the screen except an indistinct blur of light against blackness. Frowning, I looked again out of the window, but the woman had gone. Vanished.

Gone back inside if she’s got any sense whatsoever.

I could tell myself that, and believe it. I just couldn’t quite silence the tiny voice in my head that whispered I might just have seen a ghost…

And then, before I could laugh myself back to sceptical normality, another figure strode into view. Two figures. A man and a large dog. The dog was trotting along at his side, sniffing the grass. Even in darkness, the man was unmistakably Dan Stewart. He seemed to be wearing the same old khaki jacket. I could see the rain running off him in rivulets. It hadn’t seemed to touch the ghostly woman…

He stopped, gazing ahead, and slowly turned as if looking for something, or someone. Just for a moment, I was tempted. I even raised my phone hand. But it felt too wrong to take a picture of him without permission in his own home. He was facing the house now and without warning, he tipped back his head and caught me staring down at him.

I felt frozen in that distant gaze. Forcing myself, I gave a feeble wave and dragged my eyes free towards the black, wooded hills and the furiously scudding sky. Still, I was aware of him striding back towards the house. I even heard his voice calling to the dog which loped after him.

Restlessly, I abandoned the window. I needed to go to bed. My eyes, my mind, were all far too tired.

Ellie had been quite blasé about leaving the letters out of their locked cabinet. “Even if anyone knew about them, who’d steal them round here?” she’d said reasonably. I took her at her word and just stuffed my own notebook into my bag before picking it up and heading for the closed door, where I paused, because I could hear footsteps pounding up the stairs.

My heart drumming, I waited for them to pass before I left the room. They strode closer, along the hall, and I held my breath. He’d go past; he must go past…

The door flew open, and Dan Stewart stood there, scowling at me. Raindrops stood out on his wet hair and clothes.

No, he wasn’t pretty. But there was something devastatingly attractive about that rough, bony face and those big, grey eyes that seemed much darker than before.

“Did you take any pictures?” he asked abruptly.

I blinked. “Sorry?”

“Pictures,” he repeated. “With your phone.”

I lifted my chin. “No,” I said. “I’m not that rude. Or crass.”

His frown deepened for an instant, and then his whole face relaxed into a grin. “Not of me. I wouldn’t wish that on you. I mean before I went out?”

The dog, a large, hairy creature of indeterminate breed, pushed past his legs and regarded me, wagging his tail.

“I took some pictures of the storm,” I said with as much dignity as I could muster, before I gave in and held out my hand to the dog.

In much more peremptory fashion, Dan Stewart held out his hand to me. “Can I see them?”

I paused with my hand on the dog’s head, feeling my hackles rise. I straightened, no doubt glaring my outrage, but his eyes and his hand remained steady. I curled my lip, a trick I’d recently discovered was quite famous for taming unruly students, and took the phone from my bag, slapping it into his palm.

Marie_Pub

Marie Treanor lives in Scotland – in a picturesque village by the sea – with her eccentric husband, three much-too-smart children and a small puppy who rules them all. Marie is the award winning author of over forty paranormal romances – Indie, New York and E-published.

 

Email: Marie@MarieTreanor.com.

Website: www.MarieTreanor.com.

Subscribe to Marie’s New Release Mailing List: http://www.marietreanor.com/marie-treanor-newsletter/ .

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Guest Release–Circles of Fate by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Circles of Fate

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Set at the tail end of the Vietnam War era, Circles of Fate takes the reader from Fort Benning, Georgia to Thibodaux, Louisiana. A romantic saga, this gripping novel covers nearly twenty years in the lives of Shaunna Chatman and Todd Jameson. Constantly thrown together and torn apart by fate, the two are repeatedly forced to choose between love and duty, right and wrong, standing on faith or succumbing to the world’s viewpoint on life, love, marriage and fidelity. With intriguing twists and turns, fate brings together a cast of characters whose lives will forever be entwined. Through it all is the hand of God as He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

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EXCERPT

“Todd…”

He sensed her intentions and silenced her declarations of love with a kiss. “Don’t,” he whispered and shook his head. His lips brushed hers in a tender caress with each back-and-forth movement of his head.

“I love you!” She choked out the words when he buried her face into his shoulder.

She’d said it, and Todd’s heart ached with bittersweet pain. Knowing the grief they would cause, he hadn’t wanted to hear those words. He held her and stroked her hair, but never returned the declaration with one of his own.

His orders were to report to Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington two days hence, and Todd did not want to encourage her with the fact that he loved her too—more than he’d ever thought possible. Chances were he might not see her again, at least for the next four years. Then there was the war… Knowing Shaunna, if he told her he loved her, she would spend the next four years waiting and even longer grieving if he went to war and didn‘t survive. She was too young for that.

So he didn’t tell her how he felt. He just held her. When her shoulders started to shake, he rocked her in his arms.

“Don’t cry. Oh, baby, you promised,” he groaned and fought back tears of his own.

“I’m sorry, but- but…I don’t want you to go!” she wailed. Shudders wracked her slender body.

“I have to go, sweetie…” He crushed her to him and buried his lips against her soft mouth to hush her ragged sobs.

Shaunna whimpered as he pulled her against him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and pressed her body against his. With supreme effort, Todd moved her out of his arms, careful to be gentle.

“Shaunna, we have to stop this,” he urged, his voice thick.

“Why?” He could tell she had no idea of the precariousness of the situation.

He stroked her hair off her face. “Because if we don’t…” His words lingered and he wondered if she understood what might happen between them. Not likely. He kissed her again, but kept a tight rein on his emotions. “Because it’s time for me to get you home.”

She shook her head. “Please, not yet.”

Todd took a full moment to consider what might transpire if he honored her request. “Yes, now.” He pulled her close for one more kiss.

“Will you write to me?” She pleaded, and choked back a sob.

“I’ll try,” he said with a shrug. He didn’t want to appear uncaring or callous. God only knew how much this situation tore at his heart. But he didn’t want to tie her down either.

His heart clenched like a tight fist when hurt clouded her eyes. “I don’t know what they have in store for me,” he explained.

She nodded and bit back another sob. “I’ll never forget you.”

He smiled and caressed her face. No doubt he’d never forget her either. But four years is a long time when you’re sixteen. “Maybe not, but you will get on with your life. Be happy, Shaun, and promise you’ll take care.”

With a soft sigh, she nodded and moved away so he could start the car.

Todd didn’t take his arm from around her when he drove her home, grateful for each moment he had her by his side. He walked with her to the door and pulled her into his arms. With one last tender touch, he kissed her then turned away. His heart broke into a million pieces at her soft cries, but he did not look back. Instead he utilized every ounce of strength he possessed and walked out of her life.

Pamela S Thibodeaux publicity photo

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.”

 

Links:

Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com

Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

Face Book: http://facebook.com/pamelasthibodeaux

Twitter: http://twitter.com/psthib @psthib

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pamelasthibodea/

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1jUVcdU

Guest Interview–Rosemary Morris

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Characters in my historical fiction who are of their time and place. They are not 21st century characters dressed in costume.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I enjoy growing organic herbs, fruit and vegetables and putting them to good use in my vegetarian cuisine, reading for pleasure, knitting and other crafts.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

Before I begin a novel I fill in detailed character profiles for the main characters. By the time I begin the novel, for which I have an undeveloped plot and theme, I know my characters almost as well as members of my family.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Definitely freestyle, I put my characters in various situations, and then enjoy finding out what they will do.

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

While reading non-fiction something gives me an idea for a novel.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, I visit places of interest in the U.K.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

I wake at 6 a.m. drink a glass of water and then turn on my laptop. I check my e-mails and then work on my current novel until 10 a.m., with a break for a healthy breakfast of porridge made with skimmed milk to which I add three portions of fruit. I then take care of domestic tasks etc., and, weather permitting, work in the garden or greenhouse until I lunch at 1 p.m.

In the afternoon, I either check my e-mails or critique a chapter submitted by a member of the online critique group which I belong to. At 2 p.m. I read either historical non-fiction for research or fiction for pleasure, and sometimes have a cat-nap. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. I participate in social media, apply critiques of my most recent chapter, answer e-mails etc., or attend the writers’ group which I belong to.

Of course, my daily routine isn’t cast in cement. On some days I have the pleasure of looking after my grandchildren. Sometimes I spend the weekend with one or the other of my children and their families, visit a place of historical interest or a museum.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

I write short stories, and recently won two flash fiction competitions which can be read on my blog. I also dabble with fantasy fiction for fun.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

I’ve always wanted to stay on a houseboat in Kashmir but due to the political situation, it’s a dream that will remain unfulfilled. However, I would like to visit some holy places in India, for example, Vrndavan where Lord Krishna took birth.

In what genre do you read?

Mostly all genres of historical fiction and some cosy crime fiction.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

The Oxford Dictionary of Christian names.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope that when my readers finish my story they will sigh with satisfaction, and that by the end of the novel I have created word pictures of the past in which my characters lived.

sundays-child-200x300

 

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Georgianne Whitley’s beloved father and brothers died in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte. While she is grieving for them, she must deal with her unpredictable mother’s sorrow, and her younger sisters’ situation caused by it.

Georgianne’s problems increase when the arrogant, wealthy but elderly Earl of Pennington, proposes marriage to her for the sole purpose of being provided with an heir. At first she is tempted by his proposal, but something is not quite right about him. She rejects him not suspecting it will lead to unwelcome repercussions.

Once, Georgianne had wanted to marry an army officer. Now, she decides never to marry ‘a military man’ for fear he will be killed on the battlefield. However, Georgianne still dreams of a happy marriage before unexpected violence forces her to relinquish the chance to participate in a London Season sponsored by her aunt.

Shocked and in pain, Georgianne goes to the inn where her cousin Sarah’s step-brother, Major Tarrant, is staying, while waiting for the blacksmith to return to the village and shoe his horse. Recently, she has been reacquainted with Tarrant—whom she knew when in the nursery—at the vicarage where Sarah lives with her husband Reverend Stanton.

The war in the Iberian Peninsula is nearly at an end so, after his older brother’s death, Tarrant, who was wounded, returns to England where his father asks him to marry and produce an heir. To please his father, Tarrant agrees, but due to a personal tragedy he has decided never to father a child.

When Georgianne, arrives at the inn, quixotic Tarrant sympathises with her unhappy situation. Moreover, he is shocked by the unforgivably brutal treatment she has suffered.

Full of admiration for her beauty and courage Tarrant decides to help Georgianne.

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Review Comment

I was looking forward to another novel from Rosemary Morris and this one I couldn’t put down. The author seems to have found her voice in this story ….

This novel does not flinch from the realities of Regency times but in spite of that has a light and amusing style, with some parts that are near hilarious. Rosemary paints the more repulsive characters particularly well and is great at describing food and clothing. Her heroine is truly a character, a young woman with both passion and compassion. As for the hero, lovely – I wouldn’t send him back to war in a hurry.  By J. Pittam “Maythorn”

EXCERPT

Hertfordshire, England

November 1813

Rupert, Major Tarrant, caught his breath at the sight of seventeen year old Georgianne. Black curls gleamed and rioted over the edges of her bandeau. Georgianne’s heart-shaped face tilted down toward her embroidery frame. Her hands lay idle on her gown. It was lilac, one of the colours of half-mourning. A sympathetic sigh escaped him. She wore the colour out of respect for her father, who lost a hand and leg, during the Battle of Salamanca, and died of gangrene more than a year ago.

There had been so many deaths since he last saw Georgianne. Not only had her brothers died during the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo but his elder brother had drowned six months ago while bathing in the lake on their father’s estate.

He advanced into the room with Adrian, Viscount Langley, at his side. Georgianne looked up and smiled. He caught himself staring into her hyacinth blue eyes, fringed with long black lashes. Colour crept over her high cheekbones. Her arched eyebrows drew together across her smooth forehead. Egad, she had the sweetest countenance he had ever seen; one with the lustrous, milky white sheen of china, and bow shaped rose pink lips to catch at the heart.

Georgianne stood.

He bowed. “My condolences.”

Sarah, clad in full mourning for her older half-brother, stood to make her curtsy to Langley. “I trust you have everything you require, my lord?”

Langley bowed. “Yes, thank you.”

“My lord, allow me to introduce you to my cousin, Miss Whitley.”

Georgianne curtsied as his lordship crossed the parlour to make his bow.

Tarrant inclined his head. “Ladies, please excuse us, we must see to our horses.”

Sarah shook her head at him. “See to your horses? The grooms can do so.”

Georgianne gurgled with laughter. “Ah, Sarah, have you forgotten how cavalrymen fuss over their mounts?”

“Excuse us.”

* * * *

After the gentlemen left, Georgianne glanced at her cousin. She had seen little of her since Sarah yielded to the family’s persuasion to marry Wilfred Stanton, heir to his uncle, the Earl of Pennington.

Despite her reluctance to leave home because of her mamma’s unfortunate habit, and extravagant displays of grief over the loss of her husband and sons, Georgianne agreed to visit her cousin Sarah, who suffered from melancholy after the birth of a son.

Anxious for her mamma and two younger sisters, she reminded herself Whitley Manor—on the southern outskirts of Cousin Stanton’s Hertfordshire parish—lay a mere fifteen minutes away by carriage.

“Are you daydreaming, Cousin?”

Georgianne pretended to be busy untangling another strand of embroidery thread. “No.”

“Did I tell you Papa wants Tarrant to resign from the army now he is Papa’s heir?” Sarah’s needle flashed in and out of her work.

“Yes, several times.” Georgianne shivered, stretched her hands toward the fire, and fought a losing battle with the draughts in the old vicarage.

“Are you not interested in dear Tarrant?”

Georgianne bent her head. Once, she had wanted to marry a military man. However, after the loss of her father and brothers, she changed her mind for fear death might snatch him from her, either on the battlefield or as a result of wounds sustained in combat. She shook her head, remembering the dreams she harboured three years earlier when she last saw Major Tarrant. How her life had altered since then. Most of the time, she lived cloistered at home in reduced—yet not impoverished—circumstances. She spent her life in an endless round of mending and embroidery, both of which she detested. Her only escape from this drab existence consisted of daily walks, rides, or reading her beloved books. A yawn escaped her. Oh, the tedium of her days at home.

“You have not answered my question.”

Georgianne gathered her thoughts. “Yes, Sarah, I am interested in Major Tarrant. After all, we have known each other since we were in the nursery.”

“Good, but what are you thinking about? You are neglecting your sewing.”

Georgianne picked up her needle and thrust it in and out of the chemise, careless of the size of her stitches. Already she loathed the garment and vowed never to wear it.

“Papa wants Tarrant to marry,” Sarah rattled on.

Eyes downcast, Georgianne set aside her sewing and wrapped her arms around her waist for comfort. Before they died, her brothers and father had expressed their admiration for Major Tarrant in their letters. She shrugged. Once upon a time, she had built a castle in the air inhabited by Major Tarrant, a mere lieutenant when she last saw him.

Mamma still insisted on love not being the prime consideration for marriage, but novels and poems contradicted her opinion. Georgianne wanted to fall in love with one of the many eligible young gentlemen available: maybe a titled gentleman like Viscount Langley, provided he was not a military man. She shrugged. Certainly her mamma would regard the Viscount favourably. His lordship was wealthy, possessed good manners, and his height and broad shoulders equalled Major Tarrant’s. However, although she found no fault with him, Mamma might not approve of the Viscount’s skin—almost as dark as a gypsy from exposure to the sun while serving abroad—and his hair and eyes, sufficiently dark to rival any Spaniard’s. Her spirits lifted. The rectory would be a happier place with two fine young men in attendance. She was glad to be here, despite her acute concern for her family.

Sarah’s voice ended her musing. “Have you heard Tarrant inherited his godfather’s estate and fortune? Besides his pay, his income is thirty thousand pounds a year.”

Georgianne nodded. “Yes, I know. Major Tarrant is exceptionally fortunate.” Sarah blinked. “Why are you smiling?”

Georgianne stood and crossed the room to look out of the window. “I am happy because, so far, Major Tarrant and Viscount Langley have survived the war, which has taken so many lives and affected everyone in some way or another.”

She must force herself to remain cheerful. Papa had died eighteen months ago. It was time to set grief aside, if she could only find the means.

Thankfully, there was much to look forward to. After her presentation at court, she would be sure to meet many engaging gentlemen, one of whom she might marry. In time, she could help her sisters to escape their miserable existence.

Rosemary Morris - Small photo

Multi-published historical novelist, Rosemary Morris was born in in Sidcup Kent.  As a child, when she was not making up stories, her head was ‘always in a book.’

While working in a travel agency, Rosemary met her husband. He encouraged her to continue her education at Westminster College.  In 1961, Rosemary and her husband, now a barrister, moved to his birthplace, Kenya, where she lived for twenty years. After an attempted coup d’état, she and four of her children lived in an ashram in France.

Back in England, Rosemary wrote romantic historical fiction.  She is now a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Historical Novel Society and Cassio Writers.

WEB CONTACTS

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Blog

Guest Release–Hard Silence by Mia Kay

Hard_Silence

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FBI profiler Jeff Crandall returned to Fiddler, Idaho, to work on new Bureau protocols in peace…and because he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Abby Quinn. Kind, beautiful and quietly sexy, the petite rancher next door is loved by the entire town but keeps fiercely to herself. She’s a mystery that doesn’t want to be solved, though he’s desperate to try.

Whether that interest is professional or personal is a question he’ll sort out later.

Abby knows sharing her secrets would bring death and destruction to Fiddler. She survived her childhood, barely, but a long list of stepfathers weren’t nearly so lucky: their bodies are buried across the country, waiting to be discovered. The best protection is silence, anonymity and isolation, though the handsome agent next door seems hell-bent on destroying all three.

And he just keeps kissing her

When Jeff is called in to investigate an interstate serial killer case spanning two decades, Abby knows it’s only a matter of time before he connects the dots, sees her for who she really is and walks away. But it’s when he’s standing in the crosshairs of Abby’s past that Jeff faces his biggest challenge yet: how to give the woman he loves the life she doesn’t believe she deserves.

BUY LINKS

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EXCERPT

The other horse remained quiet in his stall. “Good morning, Hemingway,” Abby whispered as she stroked the giant black gelding’s nose and danced her fingers through his forelock. He was becoming such an elegant animal. “How are you, handsome? Ready to work this morning?” He dropped his head to her waiting hand. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

She forced her left arm up, ignoring the persistent pain, slipped the halter over his head and scratched his ears until he quieted. “No saddle today, I promise. Let’s get used to this first.” She opened the door but let the lead rope dangle as she walked away and let him follow. He needed to know she wouldn’t tug and pull. His clopping tread reminded her of Beau and her wobbly bike ride.

Shaking the memory free, she stood in the stable doorway. The pasture was cloaked in fog, and dew silvered the grasses not already trampled. It was like looking through a soft-focus lens. In this moment, right before sunrise, the world was fuzzy, tinted green, blue and gray. The birds chirped quiet, sleepy greetings. Hemingway froze when she picked up the rope.

“I won’t hurt you.” Abby took one step, keeping the lead slack, and waited. When the animal moved forward, she took another step. They inched through the paddock and the gate to the edge of the field.

“Good boy,” she murmured as she offered him a carrot and stroked his graceful neck. “See? No pain.”

Leaving him there, she went back into the stable only to run out when an equine scream ended in canine yelps and snarls. All that remained of Hemingway were his thundering hoof beats and the waving grass.

Abby knelt next to Toby and ran her hands over him, checking him for injuries. The dog’s shame gave way to a plea for a belly rub.

“I know you want to herd him,” she scolded as she gave in and scratched his chest, “but he hates to be crowded right now.” She stood and sighed. “Let’s go get him.”

Hem’s trail was marked in the dew, and easy to follow. The tall grass swallowed Toby in a gulp, and Abby waded through the swaying fescue to the river, her bag of carrots and apples bouncing against her hip. Stepping carefully on the slick rocks, she hopped to the Simons’ pasture and continued up the hill.

Off to her left, a covey of quail clattered clumsily into the sky, scaring her as much as she’d startled them. Toby shot off, intent on catching the slowest prey. Abby trudged on alone.

The giant gelding was stopped at the fence, munching on Deb Simon’s newly budded shrubs. He watched her approach with one dark, wild eye.

“Shh.” She touched his neck and pursued him when he flinched away. When he quieted, she rubbed his sweaty coat and stared down at the ragged plant. “I hope you haven’t killed that. I’ll never find a replacement.” At least the Simons were gone for the summer. It would be enough time to determine the damage and do some shopping, if necessary.

Comforting pats grew to long strokes as Abby ran her hands over the horse’s shoulder and then down his back. When she reached his ribs he stepped away and tossed his head. She kept a steady grip on the lead rope. “Quiet. I need to see if you’ve reinjured yourself. It won’t hurt. I promise.” She hoped she was right.

She got farther the second time. “Good boy, Hem.” He moved away again, and she started over.

It took four tries before she could run a light hand over his bones and feel the spots that were once jagged pieces. The horse shook beneath her, but he stayed still. “Good boy. I know it’s scary to trust someone, but you’re a brave man.” She pulled an apple from her bag. “You’re going to be good as new.”

The horse ignored the treat and stared over her shoulder, his nostrils flaring at a new scent. They weren’t alone.

Abby’s skin tingled as her muscles tightened. If she faced the intruder, she risked chasing Hem again. She tensed and moved her weight to the balls of her feet and whistled for backup. Toby came at a run. The dog was too well trained to bark, but his eyes stayed glued on their observer. Abby kept her focus on her dog.

Instead of growling, he wagged his tail. He’d seen whoever it was before. Convinced it was safe, Abby turned to face their audience.

“Hi, Abby.”

Jeff Crandall stood on the Simons’ porch, barefooted, in a wrinkled T-shirt and faded jeans. Lounging against a newel post, he was sipping a cup of steaming coffee, holding it with one hand while the other was shoved into the front pocket of his jeans.

Abby swept her gaze from him to the yard. She’d been so intent on the horse, she’d missed the car parked in front of the barn Hank Simon used as a garage. The silver Audi roadster with Illinois plates was the sort of car she only saw in magazines, and it would have easily fit in her horse trailer.

Maggie Harper’s reminder echoed through Abby’s scrambled brain. Jeff was renting the house for the summer, something about a project related to his job with the FBI.

He descended into the yard and started toward them with an easy gait, frowning slightly like he always did when she caught his eye. She’d seen that look for so many years, from so many people—teachers, doctors, ministers…stepfathers.

Would she ever get used to him appearing without warning? For the past year, since Gray Harper had asked for his help figuring out who was stalking Maggie, Jeff had come and gone with predictable unpredictability, always keeping her on edge.

Mia Kay

Mia Kay spent years writing legal documents and keeping people out of trouble. Now she spends her days looking for ways to get her characters into trouble. She lives in Arkansas with her husband, who doesn’t mind discussing (and sometimes causing) mayhem over breakfast.

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Guest Release–A Taste of Tragedy by Kim McMahill

ATasteofTragedy_ebookcover 200x300

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Morgan Hunter sacrificed everything for her career. She had yet to encounter anything she wasn’t willing to do to succeed…until now. When she uncovers evidence that the healthy foods she’s been hired to promote may be dangerous, she must reevaluate her priorities. As questions mount and the body count rises, she finds herself caught in the crosshairs of an organization that will stop at nothing to hide its secrets and protect its profits. With no one else to trust, Morgan is forced to seek help from the man she drove away, but whom she never stopped loving.

Amazon buy link

EXCERPT

Morgan woke to pitch black. Not only were her hands and ankles bound, and her mouth taped shut, but she was also cocooned in a thick wool blanket. The bouncing told her she was in a vehicle, but she was clearly no longer in the back of her car.

Fear coursed through her veins as she struggled to understand where she was and what had happened. She wanted to take a deep breath to help calm her nerves, but with one nostril filled with dried blood and her mouth taped, it was difficult to breathe at all.

Forcing herself not to panic, she sucked in tiny bursts of air through her one open nostril until she was confident she wouldn’t suffocate. She wiggled her toes and fingers to try and get the blood flowing and the tingling to subside.

As the fog slowly cleared from her mind, she wondered how long she had been out. The last thing she remembered was trying to stand and keep her balance, so that she wouldn’t fall on the floor of that filthy warehouse. Now, she was here, but where was here?

Morgan tried to unroll herself from the constricting blanket, but soon bumped into a cardboard box. Despite the aches and pains emanating throughout her body, she bounced her body back toward her starting place, trying not to rewrap herself in the blanket, which would negate any progress. She unrolled herself again and repeated the process until she was free from the blanket.

Her body throbbed nearly everywhere, but being free of the wrap felt liberating. She wasn’t sure what to do next. She didn’t know if the driver of the vehicle was working with the woman who abducted her, or if he or she would be surprised to find her in his or her truck.

Morgan wasn’t sure how long she lay there in the dark when the truck finally slowed. She listened to the loud staccato noise of its Jake brake, and eventually the rig came to a stop. It was now or never. When the truck got back on the road, the driver would not be able to hear her.

She scooted around until her back was braced solidly against a large cardboard box. Once the truck motor silenced and she heard the door slam shut, Morgan kicked at the back door with all her might.

After several moments, she heard the lock and then the latch being opened. Light flooded the interior, blinding her. As her eyes adjusted, she found herself staring into the startled eyes of a man in a faded t-shirt.

KimMcMahill

Kim started out writing non-fiction, but her passion for exotic world travel, outrageous adventures, stories of survival, and happily-ever-after endings soon drew her into a world of romantic suspense. Along with writing adventure novels, Kim has also published over eighty travel and geographic articles, and contributed to a travel anthology and cookbook.

WEB CONTACTS

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Guest Release–Her Independent Spirit by Zina Abbott

 

Today Zina Abbott will share with you excerpt #7 and
A chance to win a copy of Her Independent Spirit by playing the Amazon Giveaway sweepstakes.
Catch all seven excerpts on participating blogs on Zina Abbott’s website by CLICKING HERE.
Please join Zina Abbott on the Sweet/Clean Romance Facebook event

Monday, April 11th at noon/1:00/2:00/3:00p.m. or

Wednesday, April 13th at 3:00/4:00/5:00/6:00p.m.
About
the Book
:

 

Beth Dodd has made a promise to help “Lulu”, a
young prostitute at the Blue Feather, keep her baby if she decides to leave the
whorehouse and become a respectable woman. But Beth hadn’t counted on the
obstacles she and the new mother will face from society in the mining town of
Lundy. From the obstinate landlady, Mrs. Ford, to her intractable German boss,
Gus Herschel, Beth must fight for the woman she’s promised to help. But Beth
Dodd never gives in, and she keeps her word with a stubbornness that Lundy folks
are not accustomed to seeing from a woman.
Once Lulu, now known as the more respectable Louisa Parmley, starts working for
Gus in his kitchen, she proves that Beth was right to take a chance on her. She
has every intention of making a good life for her new daughter. But can she
also hope to find happiness with Gus? And will Gus be able to accept her and
baby Sophie Ann as his? Love was never in the cards for Gus, but Louisa dreams
of happiness with the stoic man, and Beth is determined to bring them together
through HER INDEPENDENT SPIRIT.


 

Excerpt
#7
:
     Albert
straightened and turned to Louisa. “You take care of yourself now, Miss Lulu.
Even though you’re no longer at the Blue Feather, you can still count me as
your friend. If anyone gives you any trouble, you get word to me and I’ll run
them off for you.”
     Louisa
glanced over at Mrs. Ford who stood only a few feet away. She did her best to
ignore the woman’s crossed arms and her face screwed into a grimace. “Thank
you, Albert. Your friendship has meant a lot to me. I-I hope I have no need to
call on you to help me, but I appreciate your offer. Good-bye.”
     Albert
nodded and turned to leave.
     “Mr.
Albert,” Beth stopped him.
     Albert
turned back to face her. “It’s just Albert, ma’am.”
     “Albert,
she ain’t Lulu no more. She done left that kind of life behind. If you have
call to speak to her again, it’s more fittin’ if you ask for Miss Parmley.”
     Albert
stared at Beth for several seconds while he absorbed her words. Then he turned
back to Louisa and nodded. “Good-bye, Miss Parmley.”

 

Photo:
This is not a photo of Mrs. Mary Ford, the Irish immigrant widow who owned the
Pioneer Boarding House in Lundy and also invested in the local mines. However, the
clothing style is correct for 1884, and this is how Zina Abbott pictures her.

 

Zina Abbott is offering a copy of the book through Amazon Giveaway sweepstakes with a  one in fifty chance of winning. You may
access Amazon Giveaway by CLICKING HERE
and following the instructions.

 

 

 

About
the Author
:
Zina
Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. You may
find the first two novellas in the Eastern Sierra
Brides 1884

series
, Big Meadows Valentine and A Resurrected Heart,
by clicking on the hyperlinks for the novel titles or by going to Zina Abbott’s
Amazon Author Page by clicking HERE.


 

To
learn about new releases and special offers, Zina Abbott invites you to sign up to
receive her monthly NEWSLETTER.
You may sign up by CLICKING HERE.


 


 

Zina Abbott Author Links:


 


Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest  |  Goodreads  |  Google+  |  Twitter 

 

Purchase
links for Her Independent Heart:
Amazon
 
Smashwords  |  Kobo
iBooks

Please tweet this blog post:

 

Excerpt 7 &
#AmazonGiveaway on Blog Blitz:
HER INDEPENDENT
SPIRIT @ZinaAbbott


Special Promotion—Hello Again by Susanne Matthews

As an author, I’m always looking for ways to stretch my wings. Last year, Amazon developed the Kindle Scout Program, which is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. Readers determine the worth of a book for publication based on four criteria: the author’s previous work since a Q&A and social links for the author in question are included, a short blurb for the book itself with a kitchy tag line, the first 5,000 words in the story and the cover. Amazon promotes the book in the Scout program as well as on Amazon and Goodreads, but the author has the responsibility to promote the campaign, too. To thank the readers, Kindle Press provides an early, free e-copy to those who nominate a book that receives a publishing contract. For readers, it’s a win-win situation. For authors, it’s a chance to get published and maybe win a few new followers in the process.

Hello Again began its campaign on April 2. The campaign runs for 30 days. At the end of that period, the author learns whether or not a contract will be issued. If the answer is yes, then Kindle Press provides editors just like any other traditional publisher does.

Cover Hello Again

Book Blurb for Hello Again

Can she lift the curse and find love again?

For Charley Winters love means loss and pain. She’s spent the last five years struggling with her grief. Existing, not living. Drawn to Saskatchewan, she isn’t prepared for life’s latests kick in the teeth. Behind schedule, she’s rescued from a vicious tornado by her dead husband’s double, a man who makes her feel things she hasn’t in years. Add to that a native myth, a shaman, a green-eyed wolf, and her husband’s ghost … Can she lift a millennia old curse and find joy and love again?

If you’d like to support the book, a paranormal, romantic suspense, you can check it out here. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/18M9BEDK8IVLH

As a bonus, here’s an additional excerpt that follows shortly after what is available on the Kindle Scout page.

The letter Mike had left for her, the one he’d written before he’d been deployed, sat on the coffee table, now covered with watermarks from the glasses littering its wooden surface. She reached over and picked up the sheet of paper. His instructions were specific, but she’d never be able to follow through with his requests. It wasn’t fair of him to expect her to.

“Damn you, Mike for dying, for leaving me this way. You didn’t have the right,” she said aloud, her voice echoing in the empty room. Drawn to the page, she read the words once more although she didn’t need to. Each one was engraved on a piece of her shattered heart.

Charley,

If you’re reading this, it’s because I let you down. I didn’t come back to you the way I promised, and I’ll always regret not being able to look into those baby blues of yours, and say goodbye. I never thought it would come to this, that we’d have so little time together. I wanted to take care of you, make you happy, and spend the rest of my days telling you how thankful I am that you are part of my life. We knew this might happen, and it was a choice we made when I enlisted and you married me, but saying goodbye like this is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be.

You’re the light of my life. I imagine our children running around the house, around that garage we were going to open—a boy who’d resemble me, a little girl who’d look just like her mama. We’d grow old together doing the things we loved, checking off each item on that bucket list we made before we were married.

I still want you to do those things, babe, even if I can’t be there to do them with you. There isn’t a lot of insurance money—I always meant to get more, but there was always something else that needed to be done, and since I expected to be there, earning it side by side, I figured fifty grand was enough.

There were so many things I wanted to show you, places I wanted to take you, but you’ll have to find someone else to do those things with now. That’s right. Once I’m gone, you need to move on.

I can hear you saying no, see you shaking your head, but you need to listen to me. I know you’re still mourning your father, but you have to let me go, let both of us go, and the best way to do it is to get rid of the things chaining you to the past—like that old car you baby all the time. You need something safe and reliable. You may be the best damn mechanic in the world, but eventually, a car needs to be scrapped. As far as I go, I’ve left instructions with Phil to cremate my body as quickly as he can after my death. I know you’ll want to see me, but babe, I want you to remember me the way I was when I was with you. Scatter my ashes on the wind. Don’t keep me cooped up in a fancy vase or box like my mother kept my dad. Once that’s done, I need you to open your heart and find a good man, a decent man who’ll love you and make you happy. I’d find one for you, if I could, but there are some things you’ll have to do for yourself.

I don’t know what there is after death, and religion wasn’t part of my life growing up, but when I think of moving on like this, I’m reminded of the stories my grandfather told. He was fascinated by his First Nations’ ancestor, even if he couldn’t claim status. The Sioux believed that the living and the dead lived together, even if only the shamans could see those who’d died. If that’s true, I’ll never leave you. I’ll watch out for you in any way I can. You won’t see me, hear me, or feel me, but I’ll be there waiting for the day when I can say hello again.

Right now, I can picture you standing there, tears running down your cheeks, and that’s the last thing I want. I know how stubborn you can be, but Charley, this is important for both of us, so please, mourn a little like I know you need to, but then move on.

Live, love, laugh, darling. Enjoy life the way you were meant to. I’ll always love you, now and forever,

Mike.

She swiped at the tears that crept down her cheeks.

“You’re wrong, Mike. I’ll never be happy again. The only way there’ll ever be a man in my life, is if you find a way to come back to me, because I’m not going looking for one. So ‘Rescues Wolf Pup and Gets into Trouble,’ if I can’t have you here and now, I’ll wait until we can be together, but don’t make me wait too long.”

Susanne Matthews

About the author

Susanne Matthews lives in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. A retired educator, she enjoys writing and creating adventures for her readers. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

 

Follow Susanne on her:  Website    Blog    Facebook page    Twitter @jandsmatt

Amazon author page    and    Goodreads author page

Guest Interview–Helena Fairfax

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a British author, and I live in Yorkshire, in the north of England. My first contemporary romance was released in 2013, and there’s been no stopping me ever since :)

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Heartwarming romance with believable heroines, strong heroes, and uplifting endings

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I live near the Yorkshire moors – close to where the Brontë sisters used to live – and I walk the moors every day with my rescue dog. I love to watch the changing seasons, and now, in spring, everything is coming alive. It’s wonderful to see the colours creeping back over the barren winter landscape.

Besides walking, I also read, read, and read!

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I start with the characters. Romance novels are all about internal conflict – the personalities of the hero and heroine, and what it is that’s keeping them apart. I will also have a particular setting in mind. The story evolves naturally out of these elements.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I generally have a good idea of the overall structure of the story and the character arc of the hero and heroine. In The Scottish Diamond – the novella I’ve just released – things didn’t go quite according to my initial plan, and the hero turned out to have a secret that surprised even me! That was really exciting to write, and I love this hero possibly more than any of my others (and that’s saying something :) )

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

It’s a bit of both. I’ll research as I’m mulling the story over, and then when I get stuck I go away and research some more. It’s easy to get sucked into the research side of things, so I try not to let it become a distraction. Having said that, I’ve had some of my best ideas for moving the story forward while researching.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

My stories are set in various locations, from France to Scotland, London, and the north of England. I’ve been to all the places I’ve written about. I think it is possible to write about somewhere you’ve never been to – the internet is a wonderful resource – but it would take a lot more effort and possibly not be as realistic.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

I take a break from it. Sometimes as little as ten minutes away from staring at the screen. By the time I get back, I’ve worked out what to do next, and it seems obvious. Other times, it takes a lot longer. When I’m really stuck, I find it useful to discuss the story with someone else. Just talking about it can often help you see the solution. My husband is brilliant at seeing an answer, especially when it involves the development of a character. Talking things through with him will often fire me with new enthusiasm

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

On a normal writing day I take my dog for a very long walk first, before sitting down to my computer. I get my emails, social media, etc, out of the way, then settle down to write as much as I can before my brain starts to freeze and the words start to dry up. I find it quite hard to write in the evening when I’m tired.

 

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Anywhere by the sea. I love Cornwall, and also the Welsh coast, and the Mediterranean for the sunshine.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

I’ll find a photo of someone – usually someone famous, like a film star or musician, and I use it as the basis for my main characters – the hero especially. I’ll refer to the photo when I’m describing them. This helps me have an image in mind, and it keeps my descriptions consistent. There’s no changing the hero’s eyes from grey to brown half way through the story, for example. I’ve pinned some of the photos I’ve used for each story to my Pinterest board.

In what genre do you read?

I read a lot of contemporary romance in order to keep up with what’s happening in the genre. Besides that, I read pretty much anything, apart from horror and psychological thrillers, which I find too tense. I like detective novels and sci-fi, and I read a lot of literary classics. I’m just reading some Chekhov short stories. They’re really entertaining and a surprisingly easy read.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

It depends on the age of the character, what they do for a living, etc. If it’s a child, I might have a look at newspaper lists of most popular names, for example. Once I’ve decided on a name, then that’s it – I find it very difficult to change it. It would be like renaming one of my own children!

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

As I said above, I have a rescue dog. She’s a Staffie cross, and was abandoned as a puppy on the streets of Leeds (a large city near where I live). She was already called Lexi when we adopted her, and so we’ve kept the name. She’s a brilliant dog with us – very loving, playful, and affectionate – but she gets very stressed around strangers and other dogs. Living near the moors is ideal. We can walk in splendid solitude, which suits us both – Lexi so she can chase rabbits, and me so I can dream up my stories!

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I’d like them to find my stories a page-turning and entertaining read, to fall in love with my characters, and to come away feeling uplifted.

The Scottish Diamond 300 dpi

BLURB

What do you do when nothing is what it seems…even the man you love?
“Fair is foul, and foul is fair…”  When Lizzie Smith starts rehearsing Macbeth with her theatre group in Edinburgh, she’s convinced the witches’ spells are the cause of a run of terrible luck. Lizzie’s bodyguard boyfriend, Léon, is mysteriously turned down for every job he applies for, until he’s finally offered the job of guarding “The Scottish Diamond,” a fabulous jewel from the country of Montverrier.

But the diamond’s previous guard has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. The Scottish Diamond has a history of intrigue and bloody murder, and Lizzie is plagued by nightmares in which Macbeth’s witches are warning her of danger.
Then Lizzie discovers she’s being followed through the streets of Edinburgh, and it seems her worst fears are about to be realised…

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EXCERPT

I continued to frown up at him, troubled. He took my face in his hands and kissed me.

‘I know what it is,’ he said, his eyes twinkling. ‘It’s all your talk of witches and ghosts. Your Scottish superstitions are rubbing off on me and I’m seeing things in this gloomy weather that aren’t there at all.’

He swung me into his arms and kissed me again.

After that, Léon dismissed his vigilance as something brought on by the strangeness of his new city. And once he began his new job at the Castle, he didn’t mention being followed again, and in fact, all the tension he’d been showing disappeared, and he became almost his old self. He left the house with a sense of purpose that had been lacking in his previous aimless wanderings around Edinburgh. And the best thing was, he was beginning to understand more and more of our Scottish brogue every day.

I later discovered it wasn’t just our Scottish way of speaking he was mastering. A few days after he started work, I was in the kitchen preparing our evening meal, when I heard the front door close and Léon’s light tread in the hall. Usually he went straight upstairs to change, but this evening he came directly to the kitchen and put his head round the door. His eyes brimmed with amusement.

I stepped closer to give him a kiss, and he pushed the door wide. My mouth fell open. He was dressed in a kilt. The green tartan cloth was thrown over one broad shoulder in Highland fashion, and the pleated skirt revealed an inch or two of tanned, muscular leg above a pair of thick, cream-coloured socks.

‘Wow,’ I stuttered. ‘You look…’ I breathed out in a long whistle. ‘You look amazing.’

He smiled broadly, showing his white, even teeth in one of the first real smiles I’d seen him give since we left Europe.

‘This is my new uniform.’ He spread his arms a little, glancing down at himself. ‘Not a bad effort for a half-Italian, half-Montverrian. What do you think?’

‘Not bad at all.’ My face decided right then and there to turn a decided pink, and to hide the fact that I couldn’t keep my eyes off him, I threw my arms around his neck and planted a kiss below his ear.

His arms encircled me, and he murmured, ‘Ever made love to a man in a kilt?’

And after that, everything between us was perfect again. All my worries about Léon wanting to go home to Italy, and all his former tension vanished, and we were just as we had been during those idyllic two weeks we’d spent at his home on the Amalfi coast that summer.

But of course, perfect times can’t last forever. Everything changed when I realised it wasn’t Léon who was being followed. It was me.

Helena Fairfax photo

Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Her first novel, The Silk Romance, was a contender for the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme Award and a runner-up in the Global Ebook Awards. Helena Fairfax was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize in 2014.
Helena is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. She walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.
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Guest Release–Everything About You by Lisa Lickel

LoveIs_EverythingAboutYou copy [7018] - Copy

BLURB

She needs a movie set miracle, he needs cash…can a farmer morph into a movie star in five days?

If Shelly has her way, Danny will become America’s next heartthrob and she’ll get her own promotions company. He’s already gorgeous, a little naive, and needs to work on that accent. To Danny, Shelly is on the pompous side, but holds the key to his real dreams…if he can figure out all the rules, say the right things for the daily vlog session, keep his heart strings in place, dodge Shelly’s vicious former boyfriend and the movie star diva. Shelly’s about to lose a lot more than her heart if she can’t get a handle on her wounded pride and learn who to trust.

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EXCERPT

By the time Fred corralled Shelly for her final vlog entry, it was dark on the outdoor set, mosquitoes overcame the aerial spray, and Shelly had not eaten since mid-morning. Winston was safely ensconced in Roma’s quarters, a canvas tent she insisted on so vocal distortion was kept to a minimum.

“You got Winston on film today, right?” Shelly twisted her neck to loosen up and swung her shoulders.

“Oh, yeah, I did that, sweetheart.”

“How’d he do? Sound okay?”

“He’ll need some work with Roma, but he handled himself well.”

Fred wore a strange grin.

“What? He have good angles? He looks all right?”

“That he does. Okay, I’m going to run film, so pretend I’m not here and talk like the camera is your best friend. Spill your guts, doll, and mean it.”

Shelly swallowed a few times and put the long, long, long day to the back of her mind. The light kept her from seeing Fred. She blinked at the red light and…

“Tommy set me up for this. I am a good publicist and he knows it. Tommy Lord became what he is because of me. Wait. I take that back. He’s a rat fink, but I didn’t make him that way.

You hear me?” Shelly laughed from the back of her throat. “For dropping me, I’m going ride tracks all down your back on the way to taking Jovian Productions to number one. You don’t deserve to be second in the industry, either. Everything about you and your joke of a distribution company is second-rate.”

Cripes, now she was repeating herself. Shelly stared at her hands, trying to think of stuff to say that sounded good. People loved at that juicy dirt talk. Even if she was over Tommy. She had her pride, after all, and none of the gossip in the tabloids was true. Talk about her day. Yeah.

“Since the moment Mr. Pettibone kicked Seth Taylor off the set and Winston Daniels stepped into the spotlight, I knew I could do something with him. Such great bones and good physique to work with. I guarantee you that within five days, I make every woman in the world drool over him and every man admire him. With his naturally thick hair, romantic build, and dreamy eyes, we’ll create a publicity campaign that puts his picture on billboards in every city, ads in all major publications, and do an online drive in everyone’s face and ear. The world will fall in love with him, the new lead in Everything About You, a movie that will make Love Story look like a postcard.”

Lisa Lickel A (3) 105 KB

Lisa Lickel lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her novels include the Buried Treasure mystery series (The Last Bequest, The Map Quilt and The Newspaper Code) and the award-winning romance, Meander ScarA Summer in Oakville, co-authored with best-selling author Shellie Neumeier, Healing Grace, The Last Detail and a series of historical early reader books, First Children of Farmington among others. She also writes short stories, feature articles, and radio theater. She is a member of Wisconsin Writers Association and the Chicago Writer’s Association. Lisa loves to encourage new authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops. Lisa also is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. She is married to a high school biology teacher, and they have two sons and daughters in law, grandchildren and a grand-kitty.

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by author Linda Carroll-Bradd