Please join the multi-author event today. I’ll be presenting starting at 2:30 PST
Today I shared some of the research that went into writing my latest novella, Ginger Cake by Glynna, book 7 in the Old Timey Holiday Kitchen multi-author series.
Check out the post on SweetAmericanaSweethearts blog here
Baker Glynna Shaughnessy wants to bolster sales for her struggling bakery almost as much as she wants to revive her drab personal life. A baking competition in commemoration of the city’s incorporation offers a chance at making the shop’s name known…until she’s accused of cheating. According to the competition’s sponsor—a roguish man who sets her heart aflutter—Glynna can only remain a contestant if she invents a brand-new recipe…something she’s never done before.
Hotel manager Ritter Anton has six months to boost patronage at his grandfather’s Anton Grand Hotel. He accomplished success with the family’s Cheyenne hotel and he’ll succeed here then move to the next. The baking contest he invented sparks controversy with the entry of a baker who others claim has an unfair advantage. Ready to reject her, he can’t say no when the auburn-haired beauty pleads her case. How will he remain neutral as a judge when all he can think about is Glynna?
This week through September 13, I’m participating in AuthorsXP list builder event for Sweet Romances. A ton of authors of sweet romances are offering copies of their books to those who enter the giveaway. My prizes are 3 e-book copies of Sweet Inspiration and 1 print copy (US only; ecopy to international entrant) of Anything But Flowers
To enter the giveaway, click here
Dependable Cadence Wills yearns for excitement. The owner of a yarn business, she is pulled in every direction by her demanding family. Haunting dulcimer notes draw her to a practice session where she spies an intriguing stranger.
Musician Rafe Frasco is a rover, bouncing between musical competitions. Interest ignites at his first glance at a woman enthralled by his music, who he learns has a heart big enough to encompass everyone within her reach.
A fantastic opportunity for Rafe presents Cadence with a dilemma—is she strong enough to negotiate the business deal that will take him away…maybe forever?
Unmarried and approaching thirty in a small town branded her as ready and willing to meet every unattached man who set foot inside the city limits. A sigh escaped. Like last week when Espe called Trent Sullivan over to their table at El Tres Amigos and then suddenly remembered an important errand, leaving them together. What Espe hadn’t known was Cadence and Trent already had been set up on blind dates—twice—by other well-meaning friends.
Nothing had clicked on those occasions either. Cadence craved someone with a mysterious past like in her beloved romantic suspense novels. A dark, shadowy figure who knew how to excite a woman with a molten look or a lingering touch. A man who fought to hide his pain and almost succeeded. Not someone like Trent—a guy whose high-school accomplishments she could probably recite.
Sweet plaintive notes of a stringed instrument floated on the breeze. Cadence stopped, straining to recognize the tune. A person didn’t grow up surrounded by folk music without knowing just about every ballad that could be plucked.
But this one eluded her. The twanging strings cried with a soulful sadness that grabbed her by the throat. Her thoughts were washed in loneliness, and she turned toward the sound, past the Heritage Herb Garden. A part of Cadence that couldn’t resist helping others had to see who was expressing such need.
She lifted the hem of her long skirt and hurried toward the haunting sound, as if the notes pulled her feet along the path. The compulsion to know who played added speed to her steps. Abreast of the groundhog pottery kiln, she slowed and peered toward the outdoor stage.
On the platform, several musicians were gathered—some unpacking instruments, others adjusting microphones. Off to one side, a dark-haired man sat in a straight-backed chair, one foot braced on a scratched case. He leaned forward and strummed a dulcimer, the light wood instrument cradled on denim-covered thighs.
Cadence stood a dozen feet away and studied the talented player. His too-long hair was tied back, his shoulders were broad inside his western-cut shirt, and his legs were long and lean. Scuffed boots, faded jeans and a worn Harley-Davidson tee-shirt composed his attire. Definitely more attractive than her own outfit. Even from this distance, she spotted a posture that meant the man had an attitude…or was mysterious. A thrill ran over her skin.
Who was this guy? He’d definitely swagger when he walked. Yummy. At the thought, she stepped closer, wanting nothing between her and the performance.
Long fingers picked the strings in a heated crescendo—note on teasing note, twang on shivery twang, strum on driving strum. He ended the song with a flourish, right hand arcing upward as the last note hung on the early morning air.
How did he know exactly how she felt on nights when everyone in Mountain View either had a date or was home curled next to a spouse? The isolation of being solo at the drive-in or enduring the knowing smile of a sympathetic waitress. His song wrapped all those feelings tight around her heart and squeezed. She inhaled, and the backs of her eyes stung.
Hadn’t she learned her lesson about musicians from the way Dale deserted her when his band got the chance to go on the road? Three years running, and he hadn’t yet steered the tour bus through his hometown.
The stranger laid a hand over the strings, rolled his shoulders, and lifted his head. Piercing brown eyes scanned the area, surveying the other musicians, and his gaze locked with hers. For a suspended moment, his gaze roved along her length, widened, and then returned to her face.
Under his scrutiny, she shifted her feet and tugged at the sides of her skirt. Her period costume didn’t exactly show off her figure to its best. Not that the fact should matter, but she couldn’t look away and chose to ignore the warning bells ringing in her head.
She coaches him in team leadership, but do they both need lessons in love?
Single mom Tessa Shore runs a successful leadership program at work and supports a mother with dementia. She can handle any challenge in her jam-packed schedule as long as nothing spins out of control…especially her feelings.
Engineer Mark Delaney is an expert on pipelines at the same company, but his interpersonal skills need a makeover. Advancing to an executive job requires enrollment in a leadership course he doesn’t think he needs.
When their professional and personal issues entangle, life at the office gets a lot more complicated. Romance is impossible…or is it?
Pacing around Crescent Park in moonlight trimmed with stars, Mark breathed fresh air and slowed his erratic heartbeats from the shock of Tessa’s invitation. Apparently, the woman who directed the class with the precision of an air-traffic controller could flex…at least, a little. She wanted to spend extra time with him, and he couldn’t refuse.
“I didn’t think we’d bump into other participants at this late hour.” She hugged tighter her windbreaker against the cool breeze. “We won’t mix business and pleasure. I’m strictly off duty, and so are you.”
“Okay, Tessa, whatever you say.” Zipping higher his jacket, he strode and sniffed moisture riding the wind. Guilt tiptoed around his collar, and he couldn’t escape the feeling this outing was a bad idea. He should avoid her, except in class, yet he accepted her invitation. But why did she break her own rule and contact him?
“If I can’t discuss work, can I ask you a personal question?” He admired her profile with pert nose tipped to the sky, breathing the fresh night air.
“I guess so since I’m the woman who persuades everyone else to dish.” She laughed and brushed a curl from her cheek.
Streetlights alternated with a full moon to light the pathway. Their footsteps crunched on gravel, and their murmured voices broke the peaceful silence.
“Ready.” She tucked her hands in her jacket pockets.
“Is Mr. Shore waiting at home?” He winced at his forward question. No sense beating around the bush. He shouldn’t pine for someone else’s wife.
Margot is the author of sweet romances Love Leads the Way and Love Takes Flight. She left an HR leadership role for the fun writing life. Her characters love dogs, and her loyal, old golden retriever, Sophie, is the inspiration for the adorable dogs in her books.
After receiving a life-altering health diagnosis, Jada Beldane heads to a holiday cottage in Sprucewood, Colorado. Armed with a handbook titled Ten Days to Find Joy, she vows to use every exercise to fight her way out of this funk and face a new year with a positive attitude. All she needs is a little time to herself and to stay away from children.
Following a disastrous marriage, single dad Graham Seaver does his best to avoid the tourists in his hometown. He’s determined to give his young daughter the best Christmas ever. Hopefully, keeping her busy will distract her from asking questions about getting a new mother.
On paper, Jada and Graham are a horrible match. But when the town’s scheduled events throw them together, will they succumb to the holiday magic?
Behind the book secret: When I took the outline to my plot group, I said I want this story to be as close to a Hallmark Christmas movie as I can get. We brainstormed about the elements that make those many holiday movies memorable. Then I needed to insert the inherent conflicts that drive the story. As I started writing the contemporary novella, I almost couldn’t believe the way the characters just came alive and challenged and completed each other in ways that surpassed my hopes. I made myself tear up and cry at a couple points, and my editor pointed out where her emotions were jerked, too. I’m proud of all my stories, but this one is super-special.
FREE in Kindle unlimited
Series page on Amazon
Michael Hamlin has always been fascinated by the ocean but lived his whole life on a northern Oregon dairy farm. Following his father’s death, he assumed he’d run the dairy but his headstrong mother has other ideas. Two years of having his suggested changes to benefit the business ignored is bad enough. But when his mother and sisters start matchmaking attempts, he follows his passion, ending up in Spruce Hill on the Pacific Ocean coast as a lighthouse keeper. The chance to do something heroic is just what he needs, even if life on the ocean’s edge is a bit mundane…and lonely.
Novice reporter Nadina Cutler is bent on proving her worth to the editor of The New Northwest, a suffragette newspaper. Her prominent Portland, Oregon, real estate family indulges her wish to pursue journalism but only until her upcoming twenty-second birthday. Unless she can prove her earnings amount to more than her trust fund income, she’s expected to return to Portland and marry to benefit the family’s social status. After interviewing the manager of a dairy farm, Nadina then travels to Spruce Hill to do a follow-up with the wayward son.
But nothing goes right. Their personalities clash. Nadina pushes for answers and Michael clams up. He’s not interested in reconnecting with the family that rejected him and Nadina has to find a big story to secure her freedom. Then an ocean tragedy forces them to work together and they see each other in a new light. Will their temporary partnership grow into something more?
FREE in Kindle Unlimited
Amazon buy link
Keepers of the Light series page
This anthology is based on true events occurring in 1864 and 1866 when Asa S. Mercer, former Territorial University of Washington president and avid entrepreneur, traveled to the east coast to encourage women, maidens and widows, to move to Seattle to become teachers. some might remember a TV series called Here Comes the Brides which was based on these “petticoat brides.” Ladies who made the four-month ocean voyage went on to fulfill important roles in education, in government positions, and aided the suffragist movement, becoming the foundation of Seattle’s socity.
The three stories take place during these voyages and after the women arrive in Seattle.
A Faraway Life by Linda Carroll-Bradd
One Dance by Heather B. Moore
A Journey to Love by Teri Harman
On pre-order on Amazon until the September 17th release
I’m happy to introduce a writing friend, Pam Crooks. We met while contributing stories to a couple of multi-author series–one is the newly launched “Bachelors & Babies” series.
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I grew up in the ranch country of western Nebraska. Cowboys and pickup trucks were everywhere, and though I was a city girl through and through, those cowboys were thrilling. My husband and I had four daughters before we moved to Omaha, and it was here where I discovered a writer’s group, Romance Authors of the Heartland. Without RWA, I wonder if I’d be published today.
I’ve been a writer forever. I (like many other readers) read Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and the Flower, and I was hooked. Back then, we didn’t have computers, and I typed out my story on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter, which was a birthday gift from my husband. I was in heaven! Imagine my delight a few years later when my brother gave me his cast-off Apple computer. Oh, my goodness. No more correction tape or White-Out. Now THAT was heaven!
It took me nine years to make my first sale to Leisure Books, but when I did, the sales kept coming. After four books with them, I got picked up by Harlequin Historicals and wrote ten more. By then, they were having some distribution troubles, and the self-publishing phenomena hit. I jumped on the band wagon with a few more titles, and well, the rest is history.
In 2019, I released three titles, two self-pubbed historicals and one contemporary with Tule Publishing. I have come to love multi-author groups like Bachelors and Babies! TRACE is my 23rd book, and it’s been quite a joyride.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
It’s a little bit of both. I have to have a framework (doesn’t everyone?) with hero and heroine, their conflict and goals. I love making them as opposite as I can since it makes the story writing easier (yeah, right). But other than that, I am very much a pantster. No matter how much I try to pre-plot, my brain goes in a different direction while I’m writing, and admittedly, a better one.
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
I do use music. It has to be instrumental, otherwise I’d sing along with the artist and that’d be a huge distraction. Ha! Piano, flute, guitar, or harp are my favorites. Top of the list, though, are Gregorian Chants. So soothing.
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
My tip has to be my critique group and brainstorming verbally with them around my dining room table. It’s that give and take, a lively and spirited discussion, that really gets my juices going. After all these years, brainstorming is still my favorite part of writing.
Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).
I’m retired. My brain can’t focus on writing until I get my daily slate cleared. That means breakfast eaten, bed made, bathroom tidied, dog walked. I have to finish email and some computer work, too. By then, it’s usually late morning, and I finally get myself in front of the computer. I stop for lunch with my husband and then take a brisk walk. Inhaling deeply while I walk is miraculous and amazing. I can then sit at my computer again and really focus.
I use a calendar to plot out my weekly page goals. I do a minimum of three pages a day, and if I don’t make the three pages one day, then the shortage gets tacked onto the next day. Good incentive!
What’s your dream vacation destination?
Europe. Specifically, Italy. My grandparents immigrated from there, so the country’s influence has been a strong part of my childhood. I hope to get there soon. Fingers crossed!
Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?
I am VERY visual. Pinterest is my salvation. Very inspiring and just plain helpful. And like I mentioned above, I need to see how many pages I’m accomplishing, too. Writing them down on paper makes me feel like I’m actually accomplishing something.
Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?
I wouldn’t call myself a pet person, but when my husband and I retired (a few months apart), I wanted a puppy to give a layer of purpose to our days. We got a purebred Golden Retriever named Louie. He lights up our days, keeps us walking, gives us something to talk about and take care of, and he is just a joy. (Notice I didn’t say I enjoy the dog hair, cleaning up the backyard or his barking, but oh, well.) I wouldn’t say the puppy stage is easy, but he’s almost three years old now and mellowing. Very smart and very sweet. I can’t imagine my life without him!
Trace McQuade has lost everything–his ranch, his brother, and the woman he wanted to marry. When his quest for justice fails, he leaves Texas to head north, but he never expects to gain an outlaw’s baby along the way.
Morgana Goldwater needs to be needed. After she endured a terrible tragedy, she lives in a narrow, protected world. When Trace needs help caring for the baby girl, she is quick to take them both into her heart and into her life.
But their troubles return, and Trace and Morgana must face their past to keep loving the little girl–and each other–in their future.
SNIPPET FROM REVIEW
5 stars–“Awesome book. I couldn’t put it down till I finished it. Now I have to wait another month for the next one to come out… great job, Pam.”
Amazon (free in Kindle Unlimited)
If the basket held a tangle of rattlesnakes, Trace couldn’t have been more apprehensive looking inside.
Sure enough, there was a baby lying there, sleeping, with one miniature fist curled next to her cheek. She wasn’t much more than four or five months old. She had more hair than most, at least from other babies Trace had seen. Dark, with ends that curled over her ears and temple.
Slick-Shot had curly hair, too.
The knowledge churned inside Trace. Cruel twist of fate the man’s bastard daughter had been forced upon him. Wasn’t it enough the outlaw had stolen the woman Trace once loved, and worse, shot and killed Robbie? Who wouldn’t be angry over it? Who wouldn’t try to refuse?
Trace wallowed in a thick pool of righteous indignation, for sure, but the longer he stood there, the harder it got to pull his stare off the infant. He couldn’t see much of Emma in her, but that part might come out later. Too early to tell what kind of woman she’d be, too. If she’d have her father’s inclination for crime or if she’d take on a more lawful frame of mind.
Regardless, the baby was innocent of her father’s murdering ways and Emma’s poor decision-making. A miniature human being that, through no choice of her own, now depended wholly and completely on a stranger—on Trace—for survival.
He blew out a breath from the immensity of it.
But he’d not be beholden to this child just because Emma wanted him to be. Trace had plans, Nebraska plans, and none of them included taking care of an outlaw’s baby.
He just had to get through tonight, that’s all.
Tomorrow, he’d make arrangements. Whatever he needed to do for the baby’s best interests—and his own.
His mood lifted. Careful not to jar the child into waking, he cradled the basket and knapsack in his arm and entered the cabin, easing the door into a quiet latch behind him. He managed to set the basket onto his bed with little more than a faint stirring from the baby, then went for the knapsack, hoping its contents would make caring for a child easy and quick.
Not surprisingly, the bag yielded several sleeping gowns, diapers, a can of condensed milk, a contraption for a feeding bottle and a letter.
Taking it, he ripped open the envelope, unfolded the paper and read the feminine handwriting:
You took care of me once, now I’m asking you to take care of my daughter. Her name is Harriett, and she was born on January 28, 1881.
There’s no one I trust more than you.
Trace’s lip curled. She might as well be standing right beside him, speaking the words in her Texas drawl. It was just like her to expect such a thing from him, too, taking on the care of her daughter as if the girl was a geranium in a pot, needing only watering now and then. Trace could imagine her lashes fluttering, her smile coy, cajoling his promise to do what she wanted. As if he had nothing else to do with his life.
Until he remembered how she’d suffered because of him. A physical pain that would’ve paled compared to the knowledge she wouldn’t live to see her baby daughter grow up. The prospect of leaving her behind, of forcing her into the care of a stranger, well, hell. Trace couldn’t think of anything worse.
Emotion welled up in his chest. He owed Emma, for sure. He’d take care of Harriett as long as he could. Until he found someone better capable and more deserving.
Emma trusted him to do at least that.
A whimper intruded into his thoughts. He tossed the letter aside and strode back to the wicker basket. Seeing him, Harriett suddenly quieted. Her dark eyes fastened onto him and rounded.
Then, her little face scrunched, turned red, and she filled her lungs with a howl that reached to the rafters. The girl must’ve known Trace wasn’t familiar. Might be she was even afraid, and Trace scooped her up and put her to his shoulder to offer some comfort.
A wet diaper soaked into Trace’s shirt. Grimacing, he rummaged one-handed through the pillowcase stuffed at the foot of the basket for something dry to put between them, only to discover it held more diapers, just as wet and soiled with who knew what else, carrying a godawful smell that nearly felled him to his knees.
Trace stuffed it closed again and bolted toward fresher air. The howling grew to a fevered, shrieking pitch, and no matter how he patted and soothed and bounced, no matter how hard he tried to think of the best thing to do, he had no choice but to accept the cold, hard truth.
It was going to be a very long night.
While expecting her first child (more years back than she cares to count), Pam Crooks read her very first romance novel, and she’s been in love with them ever since. She grew up in the ranch country of western Nebraska, and it was inevitable she’d eventually write lots of books about cowboys. Pam still lives in Nebraska with her husband (who is not a cowboy), four married daughters and a whole slew of perfect grandchildren.
She’s a long-time member of RWA and RAH, her local chapter. Pam is also one of the founders of Petticoats & Pistols, a popular blogsite for western romance. She loves to cook, hang out at her lake cabin, and decorate birthday cakes for anyone who will let her.
To see more books Pam has written, visit www.pamcrooks.com
Or visit her author page on Amazon
Or check out her page on Bookbub
This novella is my second title in the multi-author series titled “The Widows of Wildcat Ridge” which is set in 1884 Utah Territory.
Hazelanne Pitts dreams of more in life than the responsibilities of raising her five younger siblings to assist a sickly mother. Secretly, she corresponds with a rancher in Wildcat Ridge, Utah Territory, who wants a mail-order bride. When the money for the stagecoach ticket arrives, she sets off to be married. But a week later, a mine explosion claims the life of her new groom. Struggling to tend the ranch chores on her own, she becomes injured and doesn’t know if she can ride to town for help.
A pretty sweet-natured passenger, Hazelanne, caught stagecoach shotgun rider Brice MacAndrew’s eye when she traveled to Wildcat Ridge. Hearing she was the mail-order bride of Clay Oliphant, a known drunkard, didn’t sit well. After the mine disaster, Brice goes out to the Oliphant ranch and finds an injured Hazelanne who is on the edge of collapse. The only way he can help is to offer a marriage of convenience. Can the ranch become the haven both are looking for?
Amazon buy link at only $2.99
I have ARC copies available for those willing to post a review. Reviews posted within seven days of receipt earn the reviewer a chance at a $10 Amazon card or choice of three backlist titles. Email email@example.com to receive a copy and mention this blog post.