Release day for Sweet Inspiration

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?

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EXCERPT

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.

Interview with Daniel Rice

Welcome to my blog.  Let’s get rolling.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

You know the writing advice, write what you know? I followed that adage in several instances in my debut YA urban fantasy, Dragons Walk Among Us. Like Allison Lee, the novel’s protagonist, I’m an avid shutterbug. I mostly photograph nature scenes–my current obsession is photographing birds–and my son’s soccer games.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I’m defin itely a planner. I’m a member of a writing group called The Puget Sound Writers Guild (http://www.pugetsoundwritersguild.org), which puts a big emphasis on the planning process. My personal approach is to develop a concept for the novel–think of a one to two-page outline of the plot. I expand this into a scene-by-scene outline, which I try to keep reasonably high-level but it can get pretty detailed if I’m not careful. I find the advantage of this process is it allows me to write the rough draft fairly quickly. For example, I took Dragons Walk Among Us from concept to rough draft in about six months. For me, at least, that’s a pretty good clip.

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

I have traveled to the locations and photographed them! Dragons Walk Among Us takes place in the Pacific Northwest, including wilderness locations such as beaches along the Olympic Peninsula and Mount Rainier National Park. Hopefully, readers who have visited these locations find my descriptions capture their essence.

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

When I first started writing, I absolutely dreaded the idea of editing a rough draft. That’s probably because those early works were little better than chicken scratch. As a more experienced writer, I no longer fear the revision process. In fact, I enjoy it. It’s fulfilling to finish editing those tens of thousands of words and realize how much the story has improved.

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

I’m a member of #5amwritersclub. The more writing I can get done in the wee hours of the morning before the boys wake up, the better. The little lads relish making their presence felt.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Gosh. I do enjoy traveling. I have family in Southeast Asia, so that destination is always high on the list. In fact, I plan to have a portion of the sequel to Dragons Walk Among Us take place there. The photographer in me, however, dreams of visiting Iceland’s primordial landscapes.

In what genre do you read?

I read all kinds of speculative fiction–fantasy, science fiction, and some horror. I’m a big believer in reading extensively in the genre you write, so I’m always looking to read young adult fantasy and science fiction. Thrillers, suspense, and popular science–I really enjoy Neil deGrasse Tyson’s books–round out most of my reading. I enjoy listening to audiobooks while taking walks, so I find the Libby app, which allows me to check out audiobooks from the local library, invaluable.

BLURB

Shutterbug Allison Lee is trying to survive high school while suffering the popular girl’s abuse. Her life is often abysmal, but at least her green hair is savage. Her talent for photography is recognized by the school paper and the judges of a photo contest.

While visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet, Allison’s life irrevocably changes after an attack leaves her blind. All her dreams as a photojournalist are dashed as she realizes she’ll never see again. Despair sets in, until she is offered an experimental procedure to restore her vision. But there are side effects, or are they hallucinations? She now sees dragons accompanying some of the people she meets. Can she trust her eyes, or has the procedure affected her more than she can see?

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EXCERPT

I march across the dark swath of wet grass interspersed with towering Douglas fir toward the lamplight in the distance. Obscured by the surrounding shrubbery next to the base of a conifer is a blue tarp. I press my free hand against the brown bag, feeling the warmth radiating from the container of broth. Good. I’d hate for the soup to be cold.

A gust of wind pushes me sideways. From somewhere overhead comes a loud crack like the bone of some gargantuan creature snapping. A widowmaker thumps to the earth. Gasping, I nearly drop the soup and freeze in place. Overhead, the trees sway in the wind, branches creaking and groaning. I scamper toward the encampment.

About half a dozen tents surround the base of the tall conifer. A wide man with hunched shoulders moves around the camp. I smile. It’s Joe.

~**~

Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert’s Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views.

Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He plans to keep writing fantasy and science-fiction for many years.

WEB CONTACTS

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Blog: https://www.danscifi.com