Interview with Vicki Batman

Welcome to the blog, Vicki.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I do have other creative outlets. I like to stitch needlepoint and embroidery. Usually, when Handsome and I watch TV in the evenings, I pull out my project and get to work. Kinda “doing two things at once” idea.

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

I say characters, but it is what they say—the dialogue–I start with first. I write lots of it; then, I have to go back and add the details.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I am what my friend calls a “plotster,” meaning plot(ter) + pant(ster) = plotster. I know the plotting elements I have to hit-beginning, middle, black moment, end. I sit down and write in a linear fashion. Yes, I toss some stuff, but most goes in.

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

I listen to classical guitar, classical music, Simply Frank, and the ’70s.

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

I also write romantic comedy short stories and have had a lot published. Others are in collections I have published.

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

I am a pet person. All my life, I’ve had cats until our sister cats passed a while back. For the last ten years, Handsome and I are mom and dad to Champ and Jones, the Adora-poos.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I want readers to have a good laugh, sigh with the ending, and enjoy the ride.

BLURB

Great job. What man? And murder. Newly employed at Wedding Wonderland, Hattie Cooks is learning the industry from a woman she greatly admires. When her former brother-in-law is found dead in his luxury SUV, all fingers point to Hattie’s sister, who is planning her own I Dos.

Detective Allan Wellborn is caught between a rock and a hard place—Hattie’s family and investigating the murder of a well-connected Sommerville resident, the same loser who was once married to Hattie’s sister. Determining who’s the bad guy—or gal—isn’t going to be easy and sure to piss off someone.

Can Hattie beat the clock to find out who murdered Tracey’s ex before she is charged with the crime and her wedding is ruined?

BUY LINKS

Amazon E-book

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The Book Depository Paperback

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EXCERPT

Stuart bounded to my side. “Hattie. Allan. You’re naturals.”

I rolled my eyes. Great. I passed the tango test.

Allan chuckled.

I stayed in position for what seemed like hours but most likely were five loonnng minutes. My lower back spasmed, which caused me to grimace. Allan pulled ever-so-gently and restored me to my feet. I removed my hands from his. Moisture coated my palms and sweat dripped down my back along my spine. I was a wreck.

“Thank you so much, couple.” A beaming Ms. Yolanda rotated. “I’m impressed by your length and beauty.”

Length and beauty—my ass.

REVIEW COMMENT

Review: I loved it! It was a very entertaining and a fast read that kept me engaged throughout. The pacing was perfect. My only complaint is now I’m craving M&Ms and enchiladas. And donuts. And wedding cake.

Funny, sweet, and quirky, Vicki Batman’s stories are full of her hallmark humor, romance, and will delight all readers. She has sold many award-winning and bestselling romantic comedy works to magazines and most recently, three humorous romantic mysteries. An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Cat fancier. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby.

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Interview with Gabbi Grey

Welcome to the blog, Gabbi.

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

For me, it’s all about character.  In my new book, Jared was an existing character in an existing world.  He’s been in about 25 other books so all the fans have an impression of him.  I wanted to go deeper.  He puts up a front of being the friendliest guy in town – and he is – but what is that happiness hiding?  What’s beneath the surface?  What doesn’t he want everyone to know?  And for Xander, my other hero, I started with his emotional wound.  What has brought him into Jared’s sphere and what if his wound is in conflict with Jared’s need to avoid certain circumstances?  How can they make it work?  The story and plot were built out of my two heroes.

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

I write romances so I often have the beginning and the end with very little in the middle.  I have my couple and how they meet and I have their happy ending.  Everything else is often unknown to me when I start.  I envy plotters because I like to believe they don’t get stuck quite as often.  I will say that I write linearly so if I sit down at the keyboard, I’ll force myself to type the next word and the next and so on.  I might wind up editing or deleting those words, but the push to move on is what keeps the story moving forward.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?  I always believe I’m submitting a complete and clean manuscript, but my eagle-eyed editors always find something.  These days I’ve been working on expletives (the non-swear word varieties).  I’m guilty of having plenty of ‘there was’, ‘there were’ and ‘it was’ in my manuscript.  My editor believes (correctly) that this is lazy writing. To tighten up my sentences, she makes me go back to rework them.  Also, my Canadian sometimes shows and I throw in an extra ‘u’ (neighbour, labour) or a theatre.  Again, my trusty editor finds them and fixes them so the manuscripts are consistently American spelling.  Guess that British ancestry is stronger than I thought.

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

I have a day job so my writing is in snippets, snatches, and every possible minute of vacation I can get.  I also do writing sprints at 5am so I can get in some words before I start working for the day.

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

I do.  I don’t like to be hemmed it. I think it might be my ADD.  I love writing gay romances and within the genre I write contemporary – be they sweet through to spicy.  I also write m/f dark erotic BDSM romances under the pen name Gabbi Black.  I will be launching my indie career later this year writing contemporary romances (mid-heat, mid-angst) under the pen name Gabbi Powell.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

You’ll laugh – I primarily use baby books.  I went through several and created a master list of names from various backgrounds and time periods.  Sometimes when I’m stuck, I’ll use either a name generator or I’ll see which names were popular in the year my character was born.  I try to make it fun for myself and I hope my readers like my choices.

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

I’ve a pet in my life since my early twenties and I’m now (gasp) pushing fifty.  These days I have a cantankerous seventeen-year-old Himalayan Blue Point named Arabella de Bergerac (better known as Bella) and a trusty five-year-old ChinPoo named Ally.  There’s a scene in my newest book that takes place in an animal shelter and I don’t want to give too much away, but I might have made readers sniff.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I’m a firm believer in love is love.  I read and write gay romances.  I’m hoping readers who haven’t tried the genre before will be willing to read my book.  It’s a sweet gay romance about two men falling in love.  I was especially honored to be able to give Jared the awesome ending he so richly deserves and a man who will make him happy forever.

BLURB

Jared Langford is a happy man. The desk clerk at the Deerbourne Inn knows everyone in his cozy town in Vermont. He is accepted and loved by the community, but he’s missing someone special in his life.

Devastating news has brought journalist Xander Fortier to Willow Springs for some much-needed rest. He’s photographed every major conflict in the world for the last ten years, but being stateside has forced him to reassess the solitary life he’s been living.

Something in Xander’s gruff demeanor calls to Jared’s caring nature. Soon the men are spending time together, but Jared’s kisses might not be enough to keep Xander from leaving. Can the men find a happily ever after if they only have today?

BUY LINKS

Amazon US:  https://amzn.to/3fOsviy

Amazon CA:  https://amzn.to/31LG1LP

KOBO:  https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/if-only-for-today

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/if-only-for-today-gabbi-grey/1138919955

iBooks:  https://books.apple.com/us/book/if-only-for-today/id1556170342

Publisher:  https://www.thewildrosepress.com/book-post/if-only-for-today

EXCERPT

A low whistle drew Jared’s attention. Since the view from his balcony over the grassy area wasn’t likely to garner much attention, the whistle had to be because of the artwork. With a grin, he headed past his kitchen and into his living room. His smart television hung on one wall across from his recliner couch. Surrounding it were ten photographs. Some were black and white, some were color. All were of landscapes and nature.

“You took these, didn’t you?”

No hint of accusation, just awe.

“Yes, I did. I’m pretty proud of them.” Proud was an understatement. He’d given them pride of place, on the wall he looked at most. Whether he watched television, curled up with a book, or simply sat and listened to a soundtrack, he’d always admire his photos. When friends came over, he was happy to show them off. He didn’t preen in public, to be sure, but sometimes a little pride was okay.

“Good goddamn you’re talented.”

He wanted to cheer at the admiration in the other man’s voice. “I… Yeah, I guess I am. Although my reject pile is massive.”

“Hey, for every great shot there are dozens of mediocre ones. I get that.” Xander placed the bags on the floor and stepped forward. “The mountain?”

“Sugar Bush.” Jared pointed to another shot. “And I took that one from the top of the mountain.”

“And I like it as well, but this one…” Xander pointed to the landscape of snow and ice. Dusk had been falling and the sky was pink and purple.

“That was quite a sunset. I lucked out. I was walking out of town when it happened. I could’ve snapped a shot from my balcony, but wires obstruct the view. Just beyond the town boundaries are some lovely fields. The view of Sugar Bush is unobstructed.”

Xander nodded. “And this one?”

“I heard the owl and it took me about five minutes to locate her. I got one shot before she flew away.”

“Well, you nailed the shot.”

Damn, Xander Fortier was complimenting his photographs. Didn’t that just beat all?

Gabbi lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black.

WEB CONTACTS

Website: https://gabbigrey.com/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/gabbi-grey

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15456297.Gabbi_Grey

Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Gabbi-Grey/e/B07SJVFX1M

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Guest release promotion–Tempered Truth by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Fate declared them neighbors. Scandal insisted they were brothers. The fact that they looked enough alike to be twins only added fuel to the rumors flying about their parentage.

For fifty-plus years Craig Harris and Scott Hensley have enjoyed a bond nothing can sever.

Not the insinuations that they share the same father.

Not the years of strife and grief and heartache.

Not even death.

Will the truth set them free or will it destroy the friendship that has lasted a lifetime?

BUY LINK

EXCERPT

February 28th, 2005

Craig settled in for the seven-plus hour drive to Scott’s home in Lafayette, Louisiana. His daughter-in-law sat in the back seat so she could take care of his granddaughter should she awaken. Her continued weeping unnerved him. “Lex, please, you’ve got to get a hold of yourself.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do if he dies, Craig. I don’t think I can handle it. He’s my father. I’ve already lost one father; I’m not ready to lose Scott too. Oh, God, I can’t believe this is happening!”

“We don’t yet know how he’s doing. Trina said he’s stable. Whatever the situation, what he and Trina, need from you now is your strength and your faith. Besides, being this upset is not good for you, especially in your condition. Nor is it good for Tamera Joy.”

She sniffled. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

He glanced in the rearview mirror and smiled as she rubbed her gently rounded abdomen, then returned his gaze to the road. “No need to apologize. Let’s focus on the positive here.” Easier said than done but I hope she can get it together. Neither my heart, nor my nerves, can take much more of her crying.

Craig swallowed the bitter bile of fear in his throat. Hard to believe barely two months ago Scott sat at his kitchen table toasting the holidays, the upcoming New Year, and their joy over their second grandchild.

Now he clung to life in a hospital room.

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.”

WEB CONTACTS

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

Blog: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

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Release Promotion–Destiny’s Secrets by Kara O’Neal

I’m so excited to introduce you to Andrew and Ben, mischief-making twins, who are private investigators and catch the case of their life. They must reunite sisters who were kidnapped and torn apart at ages 3 and 2.

I have to tell you that my fingers flew over the buttons of my laptop on this one. There was so much to write, so many characters to flesh out. And I absolutely adore that steadier, calmer, and quieter Andrew gets trail-blazing, pants-wearing, veterinarian, Jo Tatum as his lady love, while fun-loving, never serious, mischievous Ben ends up with Charlotte Ryan, a math wizard who has more courage in her pinky than you can shake a stick at.

These sisters don’t know each other, and Andrew and Ben must bring them together. It’s a story filled with joy, sorrow and bravery. I loved writing every word of it.

BLURB

Pike’s Run, Texas, 1882

Andrew and Ben Lonnigan, brothers and private investigators, have accepted an important case—to reunite the long-lost DuBois daughters with their rightful inheritance. Abducted from their childhood home in New Orleans when they were three and two-years-old, Jo and Charlotte were adopted by separate families.

Andrew heads north to find Josephine Tatum—a pants-wearing, spitfire veterinarian who challenges his mind and captures his heart. Ben travels south to find Charlotte Ryan—the financial mind behind her father’s ranch, with a sweet disposition and, unfortunately, a fiancé.

As the sisters journey toward destiny, Charlotte must guard her heart against Ben, a man too daring to ever return her love. And Andrew must hide his feelings from Jo, a woman determined to carve her own path. While the foursome battle feelings, they must also war with a villain from the sisters’ past, one with the will and the means to destroy everything the DuBois daughters hold dear.

BUY LINK

EXCERPT

“You aren’t gonna talk just because I won’t sleep in the tent with you?” Andrew asked.

Jo took a deep breath and glared at him, trying to rein in her temper.

“That’s more of a punishment for you than me,” he went on. “I’m not much for conversation. My brother is better at it. I prefer silence, but you sure seem ready to explode with things to say.”

He looked at her with such ease that her good sense left her. “I think it’s rude of you to tell me outright that you find me ugly.”

“When did I say that?” he replied.

“When you told me you weren’t going to sleep in the tent with me.”

He made a face. “No, I don’t think I said that.”

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. You implied it.”

“No, you inferred it. I implied something altogether different.”

She sat ramrod straight. “What do you mean? What else could you have meant?”

He shrugged. “Maybe I can’t share that cramped space with you because I find you too damned attractive.”

She reared back.

“Maybe I’m trying to protect you from my inability to leave you be and not touch you.” He watched her carefully, his gaze direct and intent.

Her breath came more quickly. “Do you mean to tell me…that you…you find me desirable?”

“I do.”

She almost declared the ridiculousness of the statement. But it wasn’t. Not at all. It shouldn’t be. What was absurd was his honesty. And even more unbelievable…she tried the control of someone as disciplined as he.

Pleasure burst through her. She couldn’t help but grin at him.

He cursed.

The heat in his gaze made her pulse race, and she stood.

He shot to his feet.

And now she picked up on his nervousness. It was subtle, but she could tell he considered running away. He’d given her a powerful piece of information, and he didn’t even know if she found him attractive.

She walked the ten paces necessary to get to him.

He didn’t back away, but she could sense he steeled himself against whatever she planned.

“You can sleep in the tent with me. I’d like that very much.” She heard the husky note in her voice.

His brown eyes went warm, and her body melted. She refrained from leaning into him.

“We probably ought not to,” he ground out.

“Why?” she murmured, stepping even closer. Her breasts almost pressed against his chest. “I won’t tell anyone.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. “Have you done this before?”

“What?”

“Seduced a man.”

“Is that what I’m doing?”

“Yes,” he clipped.

Born and raised in Texas, I had to make the state the setting for my first series. From the food to the fun, like floating the rivers, it is the fire in my blood that inspires me. My family and friends take center stage in my books. My sisters and best friends are my heroines, and my husband created my favorite hero. Love and family are the point of my stories, and I seek to entertain, relieve stress, and inspire people. Books can take one on a journey that one can relive over and over. I am extremely grateful to those authors who did that very thing for me. I learned and I fell in love with their words and characters. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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Blog – The Story Continues

99cent Multi-Genre Bookish Event

Each day, from April 6 to 12, four different titles and the respective authors will be featured. My feature will post at 8AM EDT on Saturday, April 10. Enter the rafflecopter (see end of this post) for a chance to win a $30 gift card. Winner will be announced April 15.

All spotlight features can be found here at the event here.

I’m excited to be part of this event with a backlist contemporary title, When Lonely Hearts Meet.

Tagline:  Can online dating entice a divorced woman and a rancher to reveal the secrets of their lonely hearts?

Amazon

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

or the direct link https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db7750105

Reflection on New Venture by Liz Flaherty

A Cruise in A Different Kind of Boat

I love metaphors and similes and anything else involving comparative language, which is why I’m talking today about a cruise in a different kind of boat.

I’m a romance author. Mostly contemporary, although I did jump into a rowboat once and write a historical. I’m pretty sure it’s sold a couple hundred copies by now and I still love it, but no matter how hard I pulled on the oars, I just wasn’t cut out to write historical romantic fiction. (Now, if you want to talk about reading historicals, I go right from the rowboat to the ocean liner as far as expertise goes.)

For even longer than I’ve been published in romance, though, I’ve written a column called “Window Over the Sink.” I’ve written it for newspapers, for a magazine or two, and in several spots online—including my own blog. It’s my favorite thing to write, so my husband asked me to compile some favorites into a book. I agreed, and 15 or so years later, I did it.

The reason I published Window Over the Sink when I did was because the romance boat was becalmed. I’d gotten a rejection that threw me for a much bigger loop than it should have, and I needed something to pull me back toward shore.

It’s been interesting and fun. I love the book’s cover. I love that I did what I promised my husband I would do.

I love that a ride in a different kind of boat gave me time to refurbish and overhaul the engine of the romance-writing boat. It also reminded me that it’s always good to try different vessels now and then.

EXCERPT

TURKEY, JOY, AND A SMALL GLASS OF BEER

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

~~ Marcel Proust

Aunt Nellie was my great-aunt. She was born in 1892, loved and married two men, and never had any children. She was the other side of the coin from my grandmother, who’d undoubtedly been the Good Daughter, and even though I loved them both, I worshiped the ground Aunt Nellie walked on.

My mother’s side of the family were all teetotalers, but when my brother-in-law asked Aunt Nellie if she’d like a beer, she said, Yes, she wouldn’t mind a small glass. I don’t know that she ever drank beer again, but she did indeed enjoy every drop of that “small glass.” Where Aunt Nellie was, there was always laughter.

We used to go to her house for Thanksgiving. I’m not sure how many of us were there. It seemed like dozens at the time, but the number was probably closer to 25. She lived in a pretty little Cape Cod house on a pretty little street in Goshen, Indiana, and she had…oh, even in memory, it thrills me…she had a step stool you could sit on and the steps pushed out in front! She also had a finished basement with its own kitchen! In the living room part of the basement, there was a cabinet Victrola with a stack of records. They were tinny and scratchy and it was hard to get them going the right speed with the crank, but there was such safety lying on the rug listening to Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore.

Even though I grew up on a small farm, the only time we ever had turkey was on Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in it every year. I loved eating whatever I wanted and never having to touch the squiggly red stuff that slid out of the Ocean Spray can. The dessert table was impressive, to say the least, and it was pretty much stripped by the end of the day. Even then, leftovers went home with each family, and the feeling of fullness and warmth would go on with turkey and noodles the next day.

I imagine being poor was a key player in my satisfaction with Thanksgiving, but that’s really neither here nor there. What matters are the memories and the lessons Aunt Nellie left behind. She was somewhere in her 80s when she died. She’d been packing for a trip to Grand Rapids with friends when she passed away. Grief created a hard, empty place in my chest at the loss, and I just knew I’d never get over it. However, at the funeral the officiating pastor mentioned her preparing for her trip and said she’d been just as ready to go to heaven as she’d been to go to Grand Rapids. My grandmother, who’d loved her younger sister even more than we did, said she thought if she’d had her choice, Aunt Nellie would rather have gone to Grand Rapids. Laughter softened the grief and added one more rung to the memory ladder.

Aunt Nellie was one of the first people I thought of when I became a Harlequin Heartwarming author. She’d have loved the line’s premise, its joy and sense of family, and its humor. She’d have also told everyone at the beauty shop all about her niece, the author. Knowing that reminds me again of how lucky I was to have her.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. If you have that small glass of beer, be sure to enjoy every drop.

BUY LINKS

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Retired from the post office and married to Duane for…a really long time, USA Today bestselling author Liz Flaherty has had a heart-shaped adult life, populated with kids and grands and wonderful friends. She admits she can be boring, but hopes her curiosity about everyone and everything around her keeps her from it. She likes traveling and quilting and reading. And she loves writing. You can reach her at lizkflaherty@gmail.com.

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Guest release promotion–The Earl’s Error by Kathy L. Wheeler

BLURB

The countess of Kimpton, can’t trust her husband. Not only did he exile her brother from England without a word to her, but she’s since learned he fathered his ex-mistress’s unborn child. She’d had only one stipulation at the start their marriage… to treat her with respect.

The Earl of Kimpton, wants his wife. When she threatens to leave over an accusation so far beyond the pale, he panics and offers to pay her to stay. He’s bought himself two weeks and prays it allots him enough time to find her missing brother and prove he’s not the scoundrel she believes.

Neither is able to ignore the explosive passion between them, but in their search for her brother, they encounter a threat that could not only destroy their relationship, but their very lives.

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EXCERPT

“Dammit, Lorelei. Don’t. Don’t run from me.” He took the stairs two at a time. Reached the top as she turned down the hall of the wing where their chambers nestled side by side. He should never have allowed her a separate room. At the end of hall, her hand twisted the knob on her door. “I’ll pay you,” he blurted. She stopped but didn’t turn. “One thousand pounds if… if you can manage a fortnight. Just until—” Until what?

The tightness in his gut registered as fear. Fear he’d never gain ground. But he had the advantage. Lorelei had nothing. She’d had no dowry. He didn’t need or want one. She’d be destitute without him. He’d saved her useless brother from debtor’s prison. But now, her brother had stooped to a new low. Abandoning not only his sister, but a child as well. So what if the mother was one of the most sought-after courtesans in London? Lorelei would never care about such a detail, though most of the beau monde would turn her away if they knew she felt that way.

Blast. The short, cruel thing would be to enlighten her. Take her by the shoulders and shake her until she heard the truth. Make her realize that he hadn’t put her brother on board a ship, show her that her precious Brandon was acting as an irresponsible cad, running from his responsibilities of a mistake—a mistake most men of their standing took pains to buy their way out of.  Hell, the man was more a noose around one’s neck. Had been since Thorne and Lorelei’s wedding.

Lorelei’s body stiffened, and he swallowed the words. Thorne could never hurt her so callously. She turned, pierced him with flinty blue eyes. The world revolved to a stop, and perspiration gathered at the nape of his neck. He inhaled through his nose, letting out a slow stream through pursed lips.

“Per week,” she said. His wife’s tone, usually warm and full of husky mischief, radiated cold gray steel.

“What?”

“A thousand pounds. Per week. For two weeks I shall stay. And I want half now.” Her crystallized pitch would have made Medusa proud. Curiosity driving him, Thorne looked her in the eye, certain he would turn to stone, while bitter irony held him in a firm grip.

Two weeks. Could he find that no-good brother of hers in that amount of time? Force him to acknowledge his responsibility? Thorne had his doubts, but he would accept her offer. Give her half now, and pray it was enough to keep her from leaving before he located Harlowe.

But he had his pride as well. In a tone that matched her cold glare, he said, “Done.” He stepped back, enough out of reach to keep from grabbing her, with the scent of her hair annihilating what was left of any remaining sense, good or bad. He tipped his head, unable to stem the sarcasm. “Perhaps you’ll excuse me, my lady, I’ve urgent business to attend.” He stalked down the stairs to his study and shut the door with a solid click. Someday he might learn to hold his tongue. Not speak until spoken to—a quality his father had tried beating into him until the day the old bastard dropped dead of an apoplexy when Thorne was but ten and three.

He tossed the note he still clenched on his desk, furious with his reaction—no, overreaction—and moved behind the desk. He peered up at his father’s portrait with disgust. The pompous ass. It showed in the set of his shoulders, his grim facade. He made a silent vow to remove it to the attic. Or perhaps make Harlowe paint over it as retribution.

Thorne reached up and ran his fingers along the gilded edge of the frame, just inside one corner, and pressed the minute mechanism. The large painting parted slightly from the wall without a sound. He slipped a key from his watch fob pocket and fit it into his pride and joy—one of the first burglar-resisting safes created by Charles Chubb. Granted, it was a test model, but it worked magnificently. Talk about an exquisite piece of art.

Thorne counted out several hundred guineas, locked the safe, and restored the painting to its rightful position.

Of all the asinine things he could have thought of to entice his charming and beautiful wife into remaining by his side, he had to offer money. It was the panic, of course. Money she would likely use, inevitably leading him to the same fate she’d threatened. Losing her.

Well, he’d bought himself a fortnight to locate Harlowe and hopefully convince Lorelei to stay. He jerked out the bottom drawer of his desk and grabbed a sheet of paper. He scribbled off a quick note and rang for Oswald.

Minutes later, snatching up his top hat, he jammed it on his head. There was some satisfaction in slamming the door behind him. Only fifty feet from the stables, the heavens parted, dumping a waterfall of ice-cold tears that soaked through every layer he wore.

The perfect ending to the perfect day, eh? There was nothing now but to follow through on this idiotic voyage he’d forged for himself. For if his wife found out about the babe …

Kathy L Wheeler loves the NFL, the NBA, musical theater, travel, reading, writing, and … karaoke.

 

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Release of A Quilter for Quint

Daydreamer Melisande Avenelle wishes all the social engagements her mother insists on would just disappear so she can focus on her quilt making. Where some artists see images in dabs of paints, Melisande imagines landscapes made from the fabric of the dresses worn at a tea party. After her refusal of the third man put forth by famed matchmaker Madame Treszka, she’s informed she must choose from three groom candidates arranged by her mother. Thinking Texas can’t be as bad as Newport, Rhode Island, for social engagements, Melisande boards a westbound train with the matchmaker as chaperone.

Widower Quinton Azar has a six-year-old son who wants a mama. Since his late wife’s passing four years ago, Quint divides his days between breaking horses for the Army and parenting his son with no time for courting. His mother manages the household and tends to her youngest grandchild, although she would love to move to Galveston to live with her sister. The telegram announcing the arrival of his mail-order bride—a woman his mother corresponded with—on the next stagecoach is a shock. Quint drives the wagon into town, intending to pay for her return ticket. The beautiful, but disheveled, woman who disembarks the stage is too dazed to trust traveling on her own. What has his mother arranged for his life?

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EXCERPT

If only she could back home, and in her sewing room, working on her latest fabric creation. She looked toward the closest window. Ah, to be outside and breathing the fresh breezes off the Rhode Island Sound. Through the glass spread a bounty of pink buds on a cherry tree. If she gazed long enough, the edges of the tiny blossoms would blur, creating clouds of—

“Did you hear me, Miss Avenelle?”

Jerking her head to the left, she cleared her throat. Had the man across from her asked something? Earlier, his droning, nasal voice delivering his highly acclaimed poem scattered her thoughts, like they escaped ahead of a buzzing bee.

Abner Thistle arched a bushy eyebrow and looked down his long nose, an action which flattened his double chin.

“No, Mister Thistle, I didn’t. Could you please repeat it?” Melisande dared not look in her mother’s direction for fear of the condemnation she’d see. Mother dragged her to this poetry reading for the specific purpose of encouraging another meeting with the acclaimed poet.

Please don’t ask what I think of your work. She would hate to have to admit she’d been transfixed by Penny Dunbar’s gown of green faille silk patterned with yellow and white flowers. With a reinforcing layer of muslin, the fabric would be perfect for the patch of landscape in her latest quilt hanging commission.

“I asked if you had any thoughts on the poem I read.” He wedged the Delft-patterned tea cup under his long mustache and slurped. His watery blue gaze stared across the low table between their seats.

She expected to see drips falling from the whiskers but they remained dry. “Oh, yes. Of course, you’d want to know.” How could she politely verbalize she really had no thoughts about the plight of a slug working its way across a gravel pathway? She’d read the great poets—Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Phillis Wheatley, Robert Burns —and Mister Thistle would not be remembered among their number. “Well, sir…” She glanced down, wishing her cup wasn’t empty so she might stall by taking another sip. “I like to spend time in our garden and appreciated your inclusion of a lesser-known insect in your work. Not everyone appreciates how hard life is for slugs.” A statement containing a compliment and an indication that she had been listening must prove worthy of polite conversation.

His brows pinched, and he huffed out a breath. “Not an insect, Miss Avenelle. Slugs are gastropods.” He set aside his cup on a nearby table and leaned his elbows on his thighs. “I chose the slug because its vital purpose of ridding the garden of dead vegetation is often overlooked. I thought the imagery was so clear. But you appear to have missed the entire spine of the poem. I was making a comparison about how hard man must struggle through the dead ends of life to achieve each and every reward.”

Why did he use the word spine about a creature who possessed none? Telling her she didn’t understand the poem’s theme bordered on rudeness. Rather than dwell on hurt feelings, she admitted, at least to herself, she just hadn’t cared. “Oh, I see.” But she truly didn’t. If that’s what he meant to say, why not use those words? Weren’t poets supposed to be masters of the English language?

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Interview with Robert Herold

Welcome, Robert. Let’s get to the questions.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I play sax and flute in a jazz/blues band (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) and love listening to music particularly jazz and classical (I’m totally into Beethoven right now!). I also love to read and watch films and tv shows (particularly dark detective series from Europe).

I also collect books and records. Lately, I’ve been collecting Mexican Lobby Cards for famous horror movies. I have about a dozen, some of which are autographed by famous writers (Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, and Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend). Why Mexican? They are much cheaper than their English language counterparts!

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

Whenever I get the least bit stuck, I ask myself, what is the worst thing that could happen to my characters? It invariably works! 🙂

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

After losing to my wife at cribbage over breakfast, I retreat into the bowels of my house where my office is located. There I spend the first few hours answering emails and doing promo-related work on social media.

During or after lunch I typically spend writing/editing, which I do until around 5:30 when I watch BBC America on PBS. My whole day is punctuated by walks with my 5 ½ pound chihuahua, Jangles.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

My dream vacation is to visit NYC and binge on theater, ethnic food, museums, and jazz clubs. This was a regular pilgrimage until COVID reared its angry head. ‘Hope to resume this as soon as it’s safe.

In what genre do you read?

I have eclectic tastes and tend to read broadly; however, I most enjoy historical mysteries/adventures/horror. I am currently Mexican Gothic.

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

Yup, pet person. We inherited Jangles, our 5 ½ lb. chihuahua, from my sister when she passed away. He alternates between being incredibly loveable and incredibly annoying. Jangles watches television and barks at any animal or animated figure. He also doesn’t like violence. Given my penchant for the news, period pieces (when using horses were common), spooky movies, and dark detective series, he has plenty of opportunities to bark!

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

Horror can be a wonderful vehicle for social commentary in a fun and exciting way. My 19th Century characters are dealing with racism, sexism, drug abuse, and many other social ills that still haunt us today.

The Eidola Project travels to Petersburg, Virginia, to investigate a series of murders in the Black community—rumored to be caused by a werewolf. Once there, danger comes from all quarters. Not only do they face threats from the supernatural, the KKK objects to the team’s activities, and the group is falling apart. Can they overcome their human frailties to defeat the evil that surrounds them?

          Moonlight Becomes You earned two first place wins from the Southeastern Writers Association, including Best Novel!

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EXCERPT

Doc Curtis fought for every reserve of strength and managed to quicken his pace. He could hear them shouting behind him and dared not look back, fearing it might slow him just that much more.

He made it through the field and emerged onto a rough access road running between the cultivated land on one side and the woods on the other. The doctor dashed across the dirt road and through the weeds and scrub bordering its opposite side. The trees stood twenty yards ahead. He would make it, find a thick trunk to hide behind, and fire a warning shot. If he could drive them off, it would be best. If not, he would do what needed to be done. Life had reduced itself to its most basic terms: kill or be killed.

Just five yards from the trees, a gigantic black beast bounded from the woods and landed before him. The doctor skittered to a stop, and his feet went out from beneath him. The creature stepped closer, looming. Its eyes glowed red, and the skin around its muzzle drew back, revealing a mouthful of sharp canine teeth.

The Klan had come at him in two directions, the doctor realized.

He raised his pistol and fired into the snarling face above him.

Snippet from 5+ Star Review From N.N. Light Book Heaven:

“Moonlight Becomes You is exceptional in pacing and storytelling. The reader is captivated in myriad ways… (It) was a great read from start to finish.”

The supernatural has always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since Robert Herold’s mother refused to allow him, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved-in. (Well, not literally!)

As a child, fresh snow provided him the opportunity to walk out onto neighbor’s lawns halfway and make paw prints with his fingers as far as he could stretch. He would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn! (They were skeptical.)

Mr. Herold has pursued many interests over the years, but the supernatural always called to him. You could say he was haunted.  Finally, following the siren’s call, he wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea he had as a teenager. Moonlight Becomes You fulfills his childhood wish to become a werewolf, at least vicariously.

Ultimately, he hopes his books give you the creeps, and he mean that in the best way possible!

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Guest release promotion–The Cowboy’s Embrace by Kara O’Neal

Fate brings his greatest regret back into his life…

 

Sixteen years ago, Lily Spero lost her parents and siblings to a villain on a white horse. When she visits the Swinging A Ranch, her past collides with her present, opening wounds long buried and shockingly creating hope where none had been before.

Deacon Tolbert is the foreman of the Swinging A Ranch. He’s carved a niche in the world all his own. But when Lily Spero arrives, the girl he abandoned years ago, he’s forced to face the most gut-wrenching moment of his life.

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EXCERPT

He would come back soon. He would. He wouldn’t leave her here.

Lily assessed the park with its strong oaks and maples and winding packed dirt paths. She bit her lip and worked hard not to cry. She was a big girl. She was eleven, and he’d asked her to be brave while he was gone.

As she hid in the shade, she sank down to the grass, huddled against a trunk and hoped no one noticed a frightened, stranded, black girl. Where was he? What was taking so long? He only went to find food for them.

Morning turned into noon. People came. Some to eat their lunches on blankets they spread on the ground. Others to walk the picturesque paths. She pulled her knees into her chest and buried her nose in her dirt-caked pinafore. It had been yellow once. A pretty color as bright as the sun.

As she rocked back and forth, she prayed. She repeated over and over the words her mother had taught her. With her eyes clamped shut and her lips moving without ceasing, she implored to Heaven for Deacon to return.

But hours passed. Faces swam before her, asking her questions, giving her food. She couldn’t answer the nice strangers. Just gazed down the path, hoping, waiting, her heart dying.

Where are you? Please come. Please come back.

She silently begged to see his familiar form, dressed in overalls and a threadbare work shirt, coming around the bend to carry her away. But he didn’t come. And the kind people didn’t leave. They took her home with them, and Lily didn’t argue, even though their pale skin struck uncertainty in her heart. She couldn’t think. Deacon, she grieved.

And his name was the pained whisper on her lips every night, the perpetual cold ache in her heart…that could never be filled.

Born and raised in Texas, I had to make the state the setting for my first series. From the food to the fun, like floating the rivers, it is the fire in my blood that inspires me. My family and friends take center stage in my books. My sisters and best friends are my heroines, and my husband created my favorite hero. Love and family are the point of my stories, and I seek to entertain, relieve stress, and inspire people. Books can take one on a journey that one can relive over and over. I am extremely grateful to those authors who did that very thing for me. I learned and I fell in love with their words and characters. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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Blog – The Story Continues

 

by author Linda Carroll-Bradd