Tag Archives: small town

Guest Interview–Maureen Bonatch

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

It’s interesting that you ask that question since I’ve recently had my website and my logline updated. Previously it was, “Making the Ordinary Extraordinary and Laughing all the Way”.  My new one is, “Stories with Hocus Pocus and All That.”

I believe both capture the essence of my writing, which is humorous paranormal and fantasy romance.

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

My characters always start the story. Sometimes I don’t even know their names when they begin telling me their story.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

As you can see from my answer above, my writing is freestyle (or panster as some refer to it–I write by the seat of my pants.) I’ve tried to force myself to plan out part of my story to reduce editing after, but most of the time my characters have minds of their own, lol.

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

Most of my stories feature small towns surrounded by dense wooded areas (a great place to tuck away all kinds of secrets). I draw from my home to create the settings, although I don’t use any specific locations.

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

Yes, definitely. I currently have a Shih Tzu, or I should say, he has us, lol. Scruff’s been with our family for four years now. Prior to that, we had a Lhasa Apso for 14+ years. My girls have had an array of other critters over the years—guinea pigs, hermit crabs, fish and a hamster. My husband is allergic to cats, or I’m sure one might’ve been in the mix as well.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope readers find a relaxing escape from the everyday. That they might laugh a little and wander out of the comfort zone of their imagination. That they might appreciate those around them once they look a little closer and see the extraordinary concealed within.

EvilSpeaksSoftly_Oct 11

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They were never supposed to meet. Fame came easy for Liv by following in the footsteps of the female writers in her family. The cycle repeated for decades…until Liv changed the story. Her villain doesn’t like the revision—and he isn’t a fictional character. In his story, the bad guy always wins.

They were never supposed to find love. Liv never questioned her demanding nocturnal muse, or the strange incidents in her old, family home until she met Gage. His job was to watch her from afar, not reveal the truth about the curse and the stories of the dead. They’ve broken all the rules. Together they unravel secrets as they strive to stop the cycle. Liv’s ability to find love, and protect her loved ones, hangs on the fickle whims of the dead—and they’ve got nothing to lose.

BUY LINKS

The Wild Rose Press

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KOBO Books

Google Play

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EXCERPT

“I met this strange man at the bar last night. He told me some really weird stuff.” I paused. When she remained silent, I continued. “He said it was related to my writing.” She watched me with the fascination of one who desperately wanted to look away but couldn’t. As if a deer blinded to the oncoming headlights, she was fixated, trapped. “He said to talk to you.”

I searched her face. I knew my Grams. When resignation settled on her features a knot clenched in my stomach from either fear, or the excitement of validating Gage didn’t fabricate the story. Perhaps he wasn’t crazy.

Grams slowly closed her eyes and opened them again. “He found you?”

I nodded.

She turned to stare out the frosted window where the birdfeeder sat frozen over from the recent snow. “I can’t believe he took that risk. Watchers are never to approach the Recorders. It could totally upset the balance.” She worried her lower lip between her teeth.

When she used the same terms as Gage, my anxiety elevated. I expected her to deny his claims and then we’d laugh about the incident. “Grams, please tell me. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I took a deep breath. “Some weird things happened last night. Occasionally I notice unusual things, but it’s an old house and I have an active imagination, but this time it scared me.”

Added note: This manuscript placed second in the 2015 Golden Palm Contest of the Florida Romance Writers—Paranormal category

maureenbonatch

Maureen 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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Release Day for Perfectly Unacceptable, Book 13 in Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs

Perfectly.Unacceptable.web

Today I’m proud to announce the release of my third novella in the Sweethearts of Jubilee Springs series, a multi-author sweet historical series. Perfectly Unacceptable shares the story of the cousin of Aurelia and Rilleta, the heroines of my first two titles.

An interesting fact about the story. I always look for a topical event from history to include in my stories. As I built the hero, I realized he was pragmatic, quoted Benjamin Franklin often, and lived by selected precepts of Franklin’s writing. When I discovered that women’s equality advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton had publicly decried Franklin, so of course my heroine had to be a Stanton devotee. I had such fun searching out meaningful quotes.

BLURB: Jared Manning was left wanting on two prior marriage attempts, and this time he wants to be assured of a bride. So he commits to a correspondence courtship with only one potential mail-order bride and anticipates the arrival of Dina Valdis, a retiring schoolteacher, in time for the town’s Harvest Dance. He knows just how he wants his picture-perfect married life to be and assumes he’s found the perfect woman to fulfill the role.

Dina is passionate about being a schoolteacher who sparks the love of learning in young minds. An incident in her hometown of Kingston, New York forces her from her job, and her reputation is smeared. Not wanting to become a hermit, Dina is reminded how her cousins, Aurelia and Rilleta, found happiness with their husbands in Jubilee Springs. Thinking this is her only option, Dina heads west as a mail-order bride. Seeing the size of the tiny town almost sets Dina running, but an attraction for this handsome miner keeps her there. When she learns the town’s children have no teacher, she starts a campaign to educate the townspeople. Soon, she’ll have to decide if the attraction she feels for Jared is stronger than her passion for teaching.

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Guest Interview–Reggi Allder

Hi, Linda, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I write freestyle. I’m a pantser, not a plotter. Years ago, I took classes to study plotting. I tried using 3 by 5-inch cards for each scene, colored posted notes for each character and made outlines of the book. This works well for many writers. But I had a bout of writer’s block when I tried it. My creativity shut down and I was stymied. Now I write as Jo Beverley used to say, “out into the mist.” I know where the book starts and ends. After that, I let the characters take me through the events and plot twist. I add characters as I see they are needed. In one of my romantic suspense books, Shattered Rules, I was more than halfway through the book when I realized the person I thought was the villain was a red herring and another character became the bad guy.

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

I listen to all kinds of music, rock, classical, jazz, etc. I’ve even listened to the international news for a suspense book I was writing. For the Sierra Creek Series Her Country Heart Christmas Edition and His Country Heart, I played country western music as the books takes place in a small town in the foothills of California, with a strong cowboy and a determined woman.

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

Three of my favorite places for a vacation are San Francisco, Carmel by the Sea and Lake Tahoe, California. I’ve used these locations in several of my books, including two suspense and a western contemporary. It’s great to go online and check out cities, but nothing can compare with meeting the people of the area. I experience the food, weather, and atmosphere, things not available online. I’m looking for another place to visit–any ideas?

CarmelbytheSea

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

Often, I’m writing two books in different genres and I will switch to the other genre. When I’m really puzzled, I take a break and do something completely different, garden, cook, read, etc. If I have enough time, I’ll take my dogs out for a walk. I bring my phone/camera and take pics of whatever attracts me on that day. Usually an idea comes to me during the outing.

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

I grew up with a dog and a cat. Now we live with two dogs, a pure bred and a rescue puppy who barks too much, but is very sweet. I’ve also raised a puppy for Guide Dogs for the Blind. She lived with us for over a year and then returned to guide a woman in Southern California. I’ve also volunteered as a foster care person for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I always wanted a horse, but it never happened. Still, I enjoyed researching quarter horses for my cowboy in Her Country Heart Christmas Edition.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

A review of one of my books said, “…a darn good read.” That’s what I hope for readers, to have a compelling read with characters they care about and are hard to forget. Whatever their mood, I want the reader to get lost in the story and come away with a sense of optimism.

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Crazy for cowboys? Want to fall in love?

Will Amy Long have a home for Christmas?

A single mother, she was downsized and then lost her apartment in the city. Hoping to find a fresh start, Amy returns to the small town of Sierra Creek. Does she fit in? Cowboy Wyatt Cameron knows she belongs in the city and he has the power to see she returns. Sparks fly when opposites attract.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Amazon UK

Amazon CAN

Amazon AU

EXCERPT

“Sierra Creek,” the driver shouted as the Greyhound Bus came to an abrupt stop on the two lane highway.

Amy Long pushed her hair behind her ears and grabbed the worn suitcase. Surprised to see her hand tremble, she seized the case with both hands and rushed toward the front of the bus.

A gust of hot wind slapped her face as she stepped off the bus. Gravel pelted her bare legs when it drove away. She squinted and read a faded road sign, Sierra Creek population five thousand. There wasn’t a building in sight.

After years of living in the city, she’d forgotten how sweltering and desolate it was here. She’d vowed never to return home. Odd it was the first place that came to mind when she and her young son needed a fresh start.

With Granny gone, there was no family left to welcome her. She swallowed a sob. Maybe it was a mistake to come back.

The relentless afternoon sun beat down on her shoulders and her arms began to burn. San Francisco, the air-conditioned city, seemed a million miles away.

Impatient, she cleared her dry throat, wiped perspiration from her forehead, and let out a groan as the minutes ticked by. What wouldn’t she give for some shade and a bottle of ice water?

With a sigh, she pulled out her smart phone and checked the time. Thirty minutes since she’d arrived at the bus stop and not a single car had gone by. Where was the arranged ride into town?

Granny’s handyman was supposed to meet her. He obviously wasn’t a stickler about being on time. She reminded herself she was in the California foothills not in a busy metropolis where time was money.

The sound of a truck rumbled in the distance. With the back of her hand, she pushed her bangs out of her eyes and squinted. Hopeful, she watched the pick-up come closer. A shiny black Ford F 150 with extended cab pulled up in front of her.

“Amy?” A man yelled through the open window as his brown hair fell casually over a high forehead and deep-set blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight. She moved nearer and stared at his wide cheek bones, square jaw and full lips. About thirty?

A flutter of recognition stirred in her as palpable charm radiated from his broad smile, Wyatt Cameron.

His muscular arms flexed as his huge hands squeezed the steering wheel. “Don’t just stand there. Get in.”

Surprised by his gruffness, she stepped back.

“I heard you need a ride into town,” he said quietly as if he understood her reaction. “I’m Wyatt.”

“Hi, nice to see you again.” Even now her cheeks burned with the memory of him. She tightened the grip on the suitcase. As she stared her heartbeat increased and her breathing quickened. “Granny’s handyman is going to give me a ride.”

“You could say that’s me. Toss your suitcase in the back and get in the truck.”

She shook the pebbles from her flip flops and picked up her suitcase. Filled with everything she and her son might need, she grunted and struggled to lift the enormous bag high enough to push it into the raised truck bed.

Wyatt hopped out of the cab and brushed by her. With a sharp intake of breath, she took in his fresh just-out–of–the-shower scent.

Effortlessly, he tossed the bag into the truck.

She quickly hauled herself into the vehicle and slammed the door. “Nice pick-up. Beautiful upholstery,” she said trying for casual conversation. She ran her hand over the black and white leather seat.

“It’s custom. Had it done in Sacramento by a guy who specializes it tuck and roll car seats.”

“Really nice.”

Pretty fancy truck for handyman. The job must pay better than she’d thought. For some reason she’d believed Granny’s handyman would be an old retired guy gnarled from too much sun and hard work, not the hunk sitting next to her.

“Where’s your son? Thought he’d be with you.”

“He’s staying with a friend of mine in San Francisco. Bobby’s only four. I thought it’d be better if I took care of things here before he comes to the farm.” She paused. “It’s only been a few hours since I left and I already miss him.”

She sighed and leaned back. The purr of the truck’s engine soothed her and her breathing slowed.

“Thanks for giving me a ride. If you drop me at my grandmother’s farm I’ll change my clothes.”

“It’s too late for that. We can’t keep Judge Wilcox waiting.”

REVIEW COMMENT

“I’m HOOKED!!! …A seriously great book!! and I am so happy it is a series, because I am invested in what happens to Amy and Wyatt.

ReggiPhoto Smaller

An author of romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels including “The Sierra Creek Series,” where strong cowboys and determined women intersect. Reggi writes tales of love lost and then found and stories of heroes and heroines who discover love and wonder if they’ll live long enough to enjoy it. Her characters cope with longings and betrayals as each fight to discover a hidden strength.

At University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), she studied screen writing and creative writing and is a past chapter president of Romance Writers of America and current member of RWA.

It makes her day to hear from readers.

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Leave a comment for a chance to win a kindle eBook of my new novella With Glowing Hearts, a World War Two romance- Love can be found in unexpected places. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced at the end of the day.

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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Guest Release Promotion–In The Moment by Jennifer Wilck

In the Moment, my latest contemporary romance published by The Wild Rose Press, was inspired by a tour of a local Victorian mansion that my girls and I took. The house was for sale, and as we wandered the three floors admiring the woodwork, molding and features unique to Victorian mansions, I couldn’t help but wonder about the people who used to live there. Their history seemed to ooze from the very walls and floors. I would have given anything to buy the house, finish the renovations and live there, but unfortunately it was out of my price range. So instead, I decided to set my next book there. It is now the main setting of In the Moment and I enjoyed revisiting the house through pictures as I wrote. I worked really hard on the cover with the cover artist—I wanted to convey the tone of the book and include the house—I think she did a great job!

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Cassie Edwards, a former foster child, purchases an 1870s Victorian mansion, the one home from her childhood where she felt like part of a family. She’s spending her summer lovingly restoring it, with dreams of one day raising a family of her own here. Rayne Tucket, a photojournalist, is haunted by the death of his best friend in Afghanistan, a death he thinks is his fault. He survives day to day. Forever is not in his vocabulary. Swearing off photography, he answers an ad for a handyman—mindless, no emotion involved. As the two of them renovate her house, can Cassie show Rayne that love is strong enough to heal all wounds?

BUY LINKS

The Wild Rose Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT:

The intimate closeness made her stomach flutter. The proximity of their bodies, the rush of the water, and his feathering touch on her lips made her dizzy. She gripped his arms for support. He grasped her waist, staring deep in her eyes.

He was going to kiss her. She knew it. His pupils dilated. Time slowed. The rushing water pounded around her. She opened her mouth, as much to drink in air as to get ready to kiss him back. His eyes narrowed, focused on her lips. She leaned toward him. Their wet bodies pressed against each other. Her breasts tingled, and her stomach heated at the contact. She wanted this to go on forever, but at the same time, she wanted him to hurry up and kiss her so their lips could finally meet. At the last possible second, he pushed away.

She stood there, confused and aching.

“I’m not the staying kind, Cassie.”

She frowned. “What do you mean?”

“A woman like you needs a man who’ll stay forever. My time here has an expiration date.”

She ducked under the water. When she came up, she pushed her hair out of her face. “I know you’re leaving. You don’t have to, though.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Why?”

“Because I have a promise to keep.”

“What kind of promise?”

“The unbreakable kind.”

J Wilck

Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and doesn’t share her chocolate.

She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. All are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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GIVEAWAY:  One commenter randomly selected will receive an e-book copy of her backlist title, Addicted to Love.

Doesn’t Everyone Love a Field Trip?

One aspect of being a writer I enjoy a lot is the research. Lots of information can be gathered by spending time online. Now, the trips we used to take to the reference desk at the local library are reserved only for when we get stuck. Clicking links at the bottom of Wikipedia pages can sometimes be like going down the proverbial rabbit hole. Some can lead to obscure articles. But I have followed URLs and found original sheet music from the 1850s or playbills from a 1870s opera. I lucked out when I located a vaudeville poster from the 1880s (in Google images) that gave me great ideas on what to include in my story Laced By Love that featured a traveling vaudeville troupe. Yesterday, I needed a reference to Catholic saints for a short story titled Golden Moments and found who I needed on Wiki. Did you know a patron saint exists for clowns and carnival workers? Amazing.

Today I’m driving, heading almost as far south as Texas extends—to South Padre Island to a writers retreat with friends from my San Antonio chapter. Yesterday, I spent time in a small town that I’ve kept in my mind as being the one I’ve used as a base for my fictional town of Dorado. I wanted to walk the layout of the real town, snap some pictures, and see any historical buildings or places. The series, Dorado, Texas, contains both contemporary and historical stories with ancestors, descendants, and entangled families. My goal following this trip is to write an origin story for how the town was first settled. With what I learned, I know the creation will be easier.

Guest Interview of Kara O’Neal

Welcome to Kara who has several releases of historical romance fiction.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a teacher. I vowed up one way and down he other I wouldn’t enter into the profession. But God had other ideas. While I hadn’t planned on working in education, I certainly never thought about being an author. My sister challenged me to rewrite the end to a book I hadn’t cared for, and I did. In my head. Which opened up a new world, and soon I had four core families in a tiny Texas town in the late 1800s living in my imagination. It took thirteen years, and lots of rewriting, but I published my first book in 2013 and haven’t slowed down.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do anything else. I’m a mother of a cellist, trumpeter, and baseball player. I’d love to continue scrapbooking, but our children are too busy to allow for that kind of hobby. It doesn’t disappoint me because it’s truly a joy to watch them do what they love, to see them grow and change. I can’t believe I am so fortunate as to know them.

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

Well, the music I listen to while writing is whatever chant or cheer are played during an Astros or Texans game. I’m usually watching my favorite teams win, or lose, while I pen stories of romance and intrigue.

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

I sure have. I am a native Texan and have traveled all over the state with my husband and children. All of my books take place in Texas, however, the 5th story, The Soldier’s Love, starts in Nebraska (I have been there, too.) and ends in Texas. The fort in my 5th book is based on Ft. Davis in West Texas.

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

When I get home, I almost immediately start writing. I write while I cook supper. I write in the car while waiting on a child to finish practice, or CCE, or a club meeting. I usually have about 30 minutes in the morning before I have to walk out the door, and I write then, as well. Every free moment I have, I write.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Ireland. My husband is going to take me for our 20th wedding anniversary. I cannot wait.

In what genre do you read?

I read all books. I’ve read everything from Jane Austen to Tony Dungee (football coach). My absolute favorite author is Jane Austen. She transcends time. My favorite genre is definitely romance, though. I can’t get enough of people falling in love!

Love's Redemption 1019

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When she was little more than a child, Willa Kramer went to extreme lengths to save her family from their abusive father. After that horrible day, her mother and siblings moved to Tennessee, and Willa had hoped to leave Texas, its memories and Lonnie Davis, the only boy she ever trusted, behind. But fate is unpredictable.

Five years have passed, and Lonnie finds himself reunited with Willa, the only girl he’s ever loved. He’s determined not to let her slip away again, but a figure from the past looms, threatening his hopes for the future.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Resplendence Publishing

EXCERPT

Lonnie excused himself from Willa’s parents, and despite his silent commands to give Willa space, he couldn’t keep from following the lady who had occupied his thoughts for the last several years. It would be odd not to speak to her. They’d been close. Once.

When he stepped into the vacant kitchen, he caught sight of her form through the screen door. She stood on the porch, her hands lightly gripping the rail, gazing at the outbuildings, field and the trees shading Glebe Run. The breeze caressed her, sending wisps of her hair to float around her face.

He paused. His chest tightened. He’d waited a long time to see her, had wondered if he ever would. Years ago, she’d wrapped him around her little finger, and he’d grown so attached to her, he’d thought about moving to Tennessee to be with her. But then she had stopped writing. To say it had hurt would be an understatement. But he hadn’t been angry. He could never be angry with her. Never. And now she was back and near. It was too tempting.

After taking a deep breath, he moved forward then went through the screen door. Even though it gave a loud creak, she didn’t turn. Did she know it was he who stood behind her?

The light breeze ruffled her skirt. Her long, velvety hair grazed the small of her back. An ache centered in the pit of his stomach. He’d missed her. And now she was here. “Hello, Willa,” he said, hearing the gentleness of his tone.

She tensed before facing him. Her gaze was shuttered, as if she needed to protect herself from him. Was she afraid? Had he said something in his letters that had hurt her? An urgency gripped him.

“How are you?” he inquired, tamping down the questions he really wanted to ask. Instead, he searched her face for clues as to why she seemed guarded. In the past, he’d been the person she trusted, the person she leaned on. What had he done wrong?

“H-Hello, Lonnie. It’s good to see you.”

Was it? She didn’t seem happy. “It’s…really good to see you, too,” he couldn’t help admitting.

“Did you meet my step-father?” she asked.

“I did. Seems like a nice fellow.”

“He is. He makes Mother happy.”

When she didn’t continue, he racked his brain for a response. Nothing came to him. Her upturned face held determined lines, and the barriers in her hazel eyes left him silent.

“Greg likes him,” she inserted into the awkward silence stretching between them.

He linked his thumbs through his belt loops. “I haven’t seen your brother yet. Where is he?”

She nodded her head in the direction of the barn. “Checking on his horse. He brought Tracks with us. He loves that animal too much to be apart from him for long.”

Lonnie understood. He was the wrangler on the family ranch and dealt with horses most of the time. He had a special relationship with the animals. “And Shelby?” he asked, inquiring about her sister. If mundane conversation was what Willa wanted, he would respect that. Besides, did he really want to ask why she’d stopped writing? Did he really want to return to the road that led to Willa Kramer? It had taken a while to stop feeling something whenever he thought of her. And he still thought of her. Every day.

“Married. She lives in Oregon. She hasn’t met our step-father, but I’ve written to her about him.”

Which meant Willa had indicated whether or not she trusted the man. Lonnie figured she did. If the man hadn’t earned the respect of Willa, Lonnie doubted her mother would have married him.

“How was the trip down?”

She shrugged. “As comfortable as possible. I hadn’t ever ridden on a train. It was much better than the stagecoach ride from Texas to Memphis.”

The day she’d boarded that coach to leave Pikes Run had ripped out his heart. He’d watched her go, unsure of what she meant to him, what he meant to her. A week after the Kramer family had left, Lonnie had understood he loved Willa. He’d written. And she’d replied. But then, after the fifth exchange, she had stopped. Without warning. Without explanation. What had he done?

As he looked into her eyes, it was all he could do not to move closer, to cup her cheek with a hand. He was falling again. Or had he ever regained his heart? That invisible tug he’d felt around her had returned. In mere minutes.

He refrained from uttering a curse. It wasn’t her fault he was still drawn to her. He’d probably never been free of her, though he’d worked like hell to forget her. But seconds had destroyed whatever barriers he’d managed to build, and he drowned in her eyes once more. And again, just as it had been all those years ago, he only needed her in order to keep his head above water.

But walls lived in the depths of her gaze. Walls against him. His gut clenched. Hurting Willa was the last thing he’d ever wanted to do, but it appeared he had. The need to apologize burned his tongue.

“Lonnie,” a male voice called.

Lonnie spotted a lankier, taller version of Greg Kramer walking from the barn toward the porch. Gladness gripped Lonnie, overtaking the frustrated helplessness rushing through his veins. He met the younger man in the middle of the yard. They shook hands, grinning at each other. Greg was a welcome distraction.

“It’s good to see you,” Greg said.

“And you. You’re taller.”

Greg laughed. “I can almost look you in the eye, huh? Might be able to beat you at arm wrestling now, too.”

Lonnie lifted an eyebrow, a grin still tugging his lips. “We’ll see about that.” He gestured toward the barn. “Willa tells me you brought your horse with you.”

A sheepish expression came over Greg’s face. “I shouldn’t have asked my step-father to pay to stable Tracks on a train, but I didn’t want to leave him. I just got him.”

Lonnie could feel Willa’s eyes on him. His body tingled with awareness, and if he wasn’t careful, he was going to whip around and jump right over the imaginary fence she’d erected and ask her why she’d stopped answering his letters. He had to put some distance between them. “Can I see him?” he asked Greg.

The young man’s face lit. “Of course.”

As they fell in stride with each other, Lonnie heard the screen door creak. Willa was gone. His heart sank to the pit of his stomach.

Kara ONealKara O’Neal was born and raised in Texas.  After surviving those awkward years of 7 to 16, she spent two years at Sam Houston State University where she met her husband.  He followed her to Texas Tech University and was proud when she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Development.  Soon after graduation Kara followed her heart and became certified to teach Special Education.

She married the love of her life in 1998 and had three children.  The happiest times of her life are spent with her family and friends.  Kara is fortunate to be surrounded by the best and most amazing people God put on this earth.

When she was pregnant with her oldest child, Kara wrote her first novel.  And then rewrote it.  And rewrote it again.  She did this while teaching, raising kids, and traveling across Texas with her husband. Thank goodness for spiral notebooks!

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Guest Release—Nothing to Lose by Darlene Fredette

NothingToLose DarleneFredette

BLURB

She has one last hope – a small, family-run bakery that might just be baking up second chances.

Dwindling finances has Jesse Robinson running out of options. With a past filled with failures, she longs for a new beginning. Applying for a job she isn’t qualified for may be another crazy mistake, but at this point Jesse has nothing to lose.

Juggling two jobs, Travis Cooper has absolutely no time for a relationship and isn’t looking for one. But when his mother hires an unqualified baker, he has more to worry about than three-tiered wedding cakes. Like whether to break his own no-dating-employees rule and make a little room in his life for love.

BUY LINKS

Escape Publishing 

Amazon

EXCERPT

‘How hard can baking be? Easy‐peasy. Right?’ She knew her words to be untrue. She’d watched shows on the Food Network. The chefs on television made creating desserts appear simple, yet Jessie’s attempts always ended with opening a window and the lid on the garbage can.

‘I have no choice, and at this point I have nothing to lose.’ Jessie had thought the same before her previous four jobs. Though, she did excel at one particular skill—making bad choices. If only she could include that talent as a positive trait.

She drew in a deep breath to calm her racing pulse. Desperation rolled in the emptiness of her stomach. She’d just go into the bakery and win them over. She had to. The two hundred dollars in her bank account would cover her car payment. As long as I don’t eat or drive anywhere, I’m good.

Darlene resides on the East Coast of Canada with her husband, daughter, and Yellow Lab. When not working on her next book, she enjoys spending time with her family. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loves to develop the many stories swimming in her head. She writes heartwarming contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners.

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Guest Release–Hard Silence by Mia Kay

Hard_Silence

BLURB

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 Interview—Emily Paige Skeen

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

Even though I’ve always loved writing, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to make a living at it. So, I chose Public Relations as my career goal. But actually, I changed my major several times throughout college. Looking back, I think it was because I knew deep down that writing was my passion, I just didn’t really know where to start and I needed a degree that I could “do something” with.

After college, I worked as the PR and Marketing Manager for a small business, but it never fully satisfied me. I didn’t feel appreciated for the work I did, and the stress level was high. I left that job in search of an organization that would nurture, challenge, and appreciate me – all at the same time. Well, I found exactly that. I landed a job that wasn’t what I went to school for, but that gave me experience in a lot of different things, including writing. My bosses were amazing and we were all truly a family. I moved up the leadership ladder quickly and really loved going to work.

Still, something was missing. I had a three-year-old daughter at home when I discovered that my husband and I were expecting another baby. My heart was telling me to stay home with the children, but our financial situation was telling me it wasn’t possible. But I had to find a way. So, I started completing writing gigs on a content mill platform. It didn’t pay much, but it was the start of my freelance writing career.

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with my fiction work. Fiction writing is what I consider my calling, but it’s an incredibly difficult field to break into – and even more difficult to succeed in, as the competition is overwhelming. I had self-published Magnolia Lake while still working full-time, but never got offered a traditional publishing deal until I took a leap of faith and quit my job (isn’t that such a God thing?). And then I stumbled upon Prism Book Group, and the rest is history.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

To be honest, my life tends to revolve around the computer lately. Between freelance writing, working on my newest story, and promoting Magnolia Lake, I get a LOT of screen time.

But when I do tear myself away, I love to play outside with the kids. My youngest got a trampoline from Santa Claus last year, and I get a kick out of jumping on it with her. It may just be fun for her, but it’s quite the workout for Mama! I’ve taught her the games my friends and I used to play on my trampoline as a child, and she loves it.

Other than that, I enjoy bargain shopping (I thrive on finding good deals!), date nights with my husband, movie and dinner dates with my best girlfriends, and reading – I’d read all day long if I could, preferably on a beach somewhere.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I’d say it’s a mixture of both. I start with a general idea, sort of a feeling. It’s hard to explain, but I get this sense of what would make a good story – almost like a vision. It could be just one scene playing out in my head or a theme for an entire story, and I go from there.

I do like to plan out each character, though. Once I have a story idea, I literally write a description of at least the main characters – everything from personality to clothing style to job, even their flaws. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though. I actually didn’t do this right away with Magnolia Lake. But one day I read an article by an author about the importance of detailing your characters before you start writing. So even though I was halfway through Magnolia Lake, I went back and jotted down a few things about each of my important characters. And it has made a huge difference. It helped a lot during the editing stage. I would read something I had previously written and think, “Okay, Landon would never say that this way. Maybe he’d say it this way instead.”

But other than a general idea of how the story will go and the details about each character, I don’t do a lot of planning. Part of the joy of writing is seeing where each book takes me as it develops. Sometimes I end up with a completely different ending than I’d envisioned, or a new character makes its way onto the page.

I’ll say this, though. I tend to sporadically imagine very specific scenes. I guess you could say inspiration strikes at the most random moments. Whether it’s from a conversation I’m having with someone or something I just observe around me, I’ll get this entire scene playing out in my head. I’ve learned to carry a journal in my purse, because if I don’t write it down immediately, it’s gone.

 

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

Honestly, I was shocked at the sheer amount of editing involved – how many times my editor and I sent the manuscript back and forth! If you know me, you know that I pride myself on grammar and strive toward perfectionism in my writing. So it befuddled me that each time I read the manuscript, I found a new grammatical error or a sentence that didn’t flow well.

Before I self-published Magnolia Lake back in 2013, I personally edited it at least three times, and I had one of my sisters edit it too. I thought there was no way any problems would be found. Little did I know! And not just small issues, but also a rather big time-frame problem. That’s why I’d love for people who purchased the original, self-published version to check out the new one. It’s so much better!

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

Magnolia Lake is Young Adult Fiction, but my current work-in-progress is what I guess you’d call Contemporary Christian Fiction. While I enjoy writing for the YA audience, I’m focusing on a more mature audience for my next few projects. The main characters’ ages are mid to late twenties. The writing is still clean and appropriate enough for a teen to read, but will resonate more with adults who are possibly recently married, have graduated college and are starting their career journeys, or are new parents. I plan on doing more YA work in the future, though.

MagnoliaLake_Ecover copy (1)

BLURB

Popular and beautiful, Cora Stephens has it all – including the perfect football-star boyfriend – until one fateful afternoon. Facing heartache and betrayal, Cora turns to long-time friend, Landon, for comfort. While his love for her grows, she does everything in her power to avoid getting hurt again – including flinging herself into the arms of another boy.

Then, just as Cora’s shattered world starts putting itself back together, life throws something her way that’s more horrific than she ever could have imagined. Through the emotional and physical pain, she begins to lose hope and abandon her faith. Will this once light-hearted, happy prom queen find her way back home?

PRE-ORDER LINKS

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GIVEAWAY

The name of a person who comments will be selected to win an ebook of Magnolia Lake.

EXCERPT

As I backtracked through the parked vehicles, I heard footsteps again. Pausing, I looked around. Nobody was there. In fact, the entire parking lot seemed to lack a normal level of activity. There were plenty of cars, but there was not a single person walking around.

I shook my head to clear it, and started walking again—a little faster this time. Suddenly, I heard the sound again. Before I could turn around, something jabbed my back and a hand was over my mouth. I gasped and my whole body shook with fear. The smoothie I held slipped through my hand, splattering all over my shoes and jeans.

Suddenly, hot air blew in my ear at the same time I heard a deep voice say, “Don’t make a sound or I’ll push this knife through your back all the way into your heart.” The gloved hand tightened over my mouth. “Now walk,” the voice ordered.

My legs didn’t move. I was completely frozen with terror. My mind raced as I contemplated what to do next. I knew Kayla couldn’t see me. She was facing the opposite direction and there were too many cars between us. If I screamed I’d get stabbed, but it might give me a chance to wriggle free of this man’s hold. I vaguely recalled a special on TV that said most attackers would back off if you screamed, no matter what they said. I tried to open my mouth, but the assailant’s hold strengthened so that I couldn’t even part my lips. My heart rate accelerated and I couldn’t breathe. I was having a panic attack.

“I said move!” The stranger pushed me so hard I almost lost my balance, but then my legs finally seemed to work. I walked as he directed. We went straight for a minute, then he turned me to the right. After what felt like a thousand years, we were standing in front of a white, windowless work van. It was parked between a big jacked-up truck and a huge SUV. Nobody could see what was going on, if there was even anyone in the parking lot.

The side door opened and I stared into the face of another stranger. At least, I assumed he was a stranger. He wore a ski mask to hide his identity.

The first man shoved me into the van. There were no seats aside from the two in the front, so I fell backward and hit my head on something metal. I cringed and lay frozen for a minute. Then I saw what might be my only chance.

The first man stood in front of me, laughing. The second man leaned against the opposite side of the van, sitting cross-legged and messing with a cell phone.

I took a deep breath and kicked with all my strength, barely missing my attacker’s groin. He doubled over and I scrambled to my hands and knees. My heart raced as I struggled to get out of the van. Just as I had one foot out, the second man grabbed my other foot, dragging me back.

Since I’d been half standing, the force of his pull caused me to thud against the van floor again, this time on my stomach. Then he grabbed my waist and flung me against the van wall next to him.

Tears sprung to my eyes as the first attacker, also wearing a ski mask, climbed into the van and slammed the door. I could only see his eyes, and they were staring at me with nothing but pure evil. Then I saw him lift something round—a paperweight maybe? I couldn’t tell exactly what the object was, but I tried to back away as I realized what he intended to do with it. I closed my eyes, praying the blow would be quick.

Emily Skeen

Born and raised in a small Georgia town, Emily Paige Skeen takes from her own life experiences to create real, relatable characters for her novels. She loves to intertwine small-town charm with deep emotion and intrigue, creating stories that inspire readers.

When she’s not writing or chasing after her two youngsters – both under the age of five – you can find Emily reading, soaking up the sun whenever possible, or shopping. She, her husband, and their kids make their home in a tiny little town an hour south of Atlanta, on a five-acre plot of land right off a bumpy red-dirt road. Emily loves to sit and listen as the ever-present crickets and frogs perform their harmonious concerts in the still, quiet evening hours.

Writing has always been Emily’s passion, ever since she crafted her first sloppily hand-written story plastered over spiral notebook paper at the emotionally-charged age of thirteen. Now, she strives to encourage and inspire girls and young women with her writing. She believes that with a little bit of faith and a whole lot of love, anything’s possible.

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Guest Promotion–Fiona’s Knight of Dreams by Sharon McGregor

FionasKnightofDreams 3

BLURB

The ladies of 1947 Timber plan to find a wife for Charles, their new single minister. Fiona, an accident-prone and outspoken part-time librarian is looking for a knight on a white charger to carry her away from her small town life. Fiona and Charles are thrown together as they begin to solve an old mystery they find in a library book. Will Fiona’s white knight ever show up to sweep her away? Will Charles ever run out of invitations for cream cakes and lemon slice? Fiona might just discover the sound of hoof-beats when she least expects it.

BUY LINK

Amazon

EXCERPT

No sooner had Charles Redpath entered her thoughts than he entered the library.

“Finished your books already?  You must be a fast reader.”

“Well, I discovered I’d already read the Perry Mason and the book on Revelation was a little too much on the dry side.”

“Funny, I thought Revelation was the one preachers used to scare the congregations. I never thought of it as dry. But then any book of sermons might take a little work to get through. I mean if you have to listen to one on Sunday mornings, why would you..” she broke off and put her hand to her mouth to stop any more words escaping. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean…”

“Oh I know what you meant.” She looked up expecting to see an expression of censure or hurt or disapproval, but instead Fiona could swear his eyes were twinkling, very nice brown eyes with a definite twinkle. Now why did she think that?

“Sunday sermons are an occasional requisite for spiritual guidance,” he said, “but a little can go a long way. On the other hand, mine sometimes have a certain soporific value.”

“Not if you’re preaching them on Revelation,” she retorted.

“Good. Your smile is back.” He held out the book of sermons, “Actually I wanted to show you something in this one.”

She looked at the book suspiciously. Was she wrong in her evaluation? Was he going to start giving her a private lesson in the scripture?

He shook the book and two envelopes fluttered out to the counter. “I found these in the book and I wonder if we should try to return them to the owner.”

They were plain envelopes, each bulky enough to contain a letter or note.  One had the capital letter D on the front.  The other said J in a slightly different hand.

“I can look to see who checked the book out last,” said Fiona,” but it was likely a long time ago.  I mean, how many people would..” There she went again, putting her foot in her mouth.  “I’ll check the records,” She clamped her mouth firmly shut before she could shoot herself in the foot again. She giggled a little. What was this fetish she was developing about feet?

She checked the pouch card for the book and looked up the member number in the card index.  “Last time this book went out was nearly three years ago. It was checked out by Rev. Hamilton.”

“But my predecessor was Jonas Micklethwaite.”

“Yes, but he was only here for a couple of years. I think he got tired of small town life, or his wife did, and they moved to a larger place.  Before him it was Rev. Hamilton. He was here for -well forever, just about.  He christened me and my brother too. Then his wife got sick and he had to look after her until-well, until she died.  He was pretty much ready to retire then, he was quite old, and so he went over to Greenway to live with his daughter.”

“I wonder if these letters are important to him.”

“Well, let’s check,” said Fiona, starting to slide her nail under a flap.

“We can’t do that! They’re someone’s private letters!” Fiona gave a quick look at Charles’ face and concluded the outrage of his words wasn’t echoed in the curiosity in his expression.

“And you call yourself a detective?”

“I don’t call myself a detective. You asked me why I didn’t become one. Anyhow, we can mail them to him in Greenway.”

“Look this one isn’t even sealed,” said Fiona, picking up the other letter. “So they’re not really private.” She flipped it open and out popped a sheet of paper.

She pushed it between them sideways on the counter so they could both read.

Sharon McGregor

Sharon McGregor lives on beautiful Vancouver Island. She hasn’t escaped her prairie roots, though, as her romances are set in small town North America.. Sharon loves to write romance, mystery and humor, if possible all three at the same time.

Web Contacts-

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