Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Welcome to Denise Carbo

When choosing the setting for Scent of BetrayalI had a few parameters I needed to stick with because it’s the second in a series and some of the foundation had already been established in Bloodlines, the first in the Shifters of Rishardseries. It needed to be set in Europe and it had to be a place accessible by water since the European clan’s primary business is ship building. After researching I settled on Glasgow, Scotland because of its historical significance to the shipping industry. Bethany, my main character has a home in the Highlands of Scotland. It is one of the most sparsely populated areas of Europe making it a perfect place for shifters to maintain their secrets. When you add in The Kelpies, two colossal statues of horse heads which represent horse shape shifters, my choice was clear.

Blurb:Wolf shifter, Davis Campbell is on a mission. His job is to babysit a woman from a rival clan. He believes all he has to do is get her back to Scotland. What he doesn't figure on is her possibly being his mate.

Bethany Leitner, an owl shifter, has been betrayed, attacked, framed, and left for dead. Trust in herself and others is hard to find. So when her self-appointed guardian begins to bark orders, she is ready to show her talons.

Excerpt:  Davis snorted. “Yeah, well, the little peacemaker tried to get rid of me when I didn’t kowtow to Aaron and the advisor. I don’t think she fully realizes the precarious position she and her clan are in right now.”
“On the contrary, I am quite aware, which is why I don’t see the need to make the matter worse by
antagonizing everyone around me.”
Davis slowly swiveled his head to meet Bethany’s glare. She stood in the open doorway to the bathroom with her arms wrapped tightly around her waist. Her dark gaze pinned on him. She’d changed into a blue dress. It accentuated her tiny waist, skimming just below her knees, allowing him an appreciative view ofher trim legs. Her pursed lips only accentuated the pink little bow of her mouth. He couldn’t help but imaginewhat it might be like to grab a taste.
An amused chuckle sounded in his ear. “She doesn’t sound very happy with you, Davis. Are you sure you want to stay?”
“Yeah, I’m sure.”

Bio:   Denise Carbo writes Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense, and Contemporary Romance. She is a voracious reader, loves to travel, is fascinated by the supernatural, and enjoys figuring out the culprit of books and movies before the ending is revealed.
She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Marketing and lives in a small, picturesque New England town with her high school sweetheart and their three amazing sons.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Welcome Karen Hulene Bartell

Thank you, Jennifer Wilck, for inviting me to your blog! It’s a pleasure to chat with you and your readers about our writing craft!
I jokingly call our rescued “CAT”ahoula Leopard dog and three rescued cats my “MEWS.” The cats either lounge on my desk or my lap while I write, and the dog sleeps beside my chair on his bed, so I’m surrounded by my “MEWS,” but I wouldn’t say they inspire me.
I think everything we’ve ever read, seen, heard, and thought mingles and merges in our brains as we sleep or meditate. When inspired ideas crop up, I believe our minds recollect (re-collect) that information and reassemble it into the prose we write, but inspirationfor that reconstruction is harder to pin down.
For me, travel sparks inspiration. When I visit provocative places, encounter new experiences, sample different ethnic foods, and chance upon stimulating people, I’m inspired. Ideas flow. (I should’ve been a travel correspondent.) There’s something about traveling that takes me out of my rut and propels me into new realms of possibility. 
I’ve written some of my best concepts sitting in airports or hotel bathrooms at midnight (so I don’t wake my husband with the light). Being outof my element and innew environments stimulates my imagination. Traveling inspires me.
Each of my novels takes place in a different setting because as I visit those destinations, I’m infused with innovative ideas. I envision scene after scene, like vignettes flowing into the next and the next.
For instance, when my husband and I visited Key West, the colorful history of Key West, as well as its bigger-than-life residents, like Earnest Hemingway, stimulated me. I knew buried treasure, pirates, sea-turtles, and the keys’ raw beauty would have to play roles in my Mainstream Fantasy, The Keys: Voice of the Turtle.
A fun town that doesn’t sleep, the city island is a continuous party that starts at breakfast withcafe con leche,Cuban toast, and mimosas. The festivity runs throughout the day in bistros, pubs, brasseries, or munching on food-cart conch fritters and Key West pink shrimp scampi. It reaches full swing at Mallory Square’s Sunset Celebration with to-go cups in hand and then continues long into the night on a Duval Crawl.
Key West is a wide-open town that historically attracted pirates and wreck salvagers. Today, the island’s sheer beauty, tropical vibes, and distinct culture draw vacationers, sailors, sun-lovers, and mavericks, as well as real-estate developers and hoteliers, who also play roles in The Keys: Voice of the Turtle.
So what inspires me to write? Traveling to unique destinations, where I can experience a distinctive ambiance. The atmosphere sets the tone. Then the characters emerge, and finally a story unfolds.

Hours after arriving in the Florida Keys to help her cousin Keya create a turtle preserve, Ruth discovers a washed-up body and not one, but two apparitions—Maita, the angry victim's spirit, and Bart, a swashbuckling ghost. Ruth's curious ability to connect with the ghosts may help them move on, but how?
Keya is in a probate battle over her turtle-nesting beach. Land-hungry relatives want it bulldozed and developed. Like Ruth, she has a special gift—she can talk to animals. Between Ruth's help and Keya's unique ability, they work to save the property, but is it too late?
Can Keya save her beloved turtles? Can Ruth find Maita's murderer or help Bart solve his 400-year-old mystery? There's more than meets the eye to Keya's land. Add in a dashing sailor who believes in her, and Keya may have more than she bargained for…

“These nesting grounds are the reason I’ve fought to keep this property intact. If this beach is developed, the impact will destroy it, but fighting the lawsuit is expensive. I’d hate to sell this place to pay court costs.”
“But you said keeping the nesting grounds intact is only part of the reason you stay.” Ruth gave her a sympathetic smile. “What’s the rest of it?”
“Call it my legacy.” Keya stood up straight. “When I’m gone, I’d like this beach to remain as nature intended it…for the turtles. Since I’ve never had children—”
Earnestine meowed.
Keya grinned. “That is, except for my furry, four-legged kids, I’ve never had children. I have no one to leave it to other than who or what will make the best use of it. Conveying this land to the turtles would be my way of leaving the world a better place.” She turned toward Ruth. “Does that make sense?”
Ruth nodded. Her cousin’s intentions were clear. “But legally, how can you will the property to the turtles?”
“Easy. I leave it to the Turtle Refuge.” Keya chuckled as they meandered along the beach. “And this is where you come in. When you’re writing the brochure, add a few paragraphs about planned giving and charitable bequests…” Keya stared as if in a trance.
“What’s wrong?”
Her hand shaking, Keya pointed to a shady patch of beach half hidden by sand dunes. A lifeless hand lay tangled in seaweed, its fingernails broken and bloodied.


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Monday, July 29, 2019

Writer's Conference

I attended the Romance Writers of America’s annual conference last week. Well, attended should be in quotes, since officially, I didn’t register for it. Don’t worry, I didn’t break any rules. It was held in the Marriott Marquis and all I did was hang out in the lobby and meet up with friends for meals off site. Totally legit. 

Honestly, this was my best experience with that conference ever. The reason I didn’t attend officially was because there were only about two workshops that interested me (at the time I looked, so they may have added more) across the four days. Between the registration fee, hotel fee, commuting fee and food, it was a heck of a lot of money for two hours. So I passed on officially attending, although I’ve heard wonderful things from those who did attend and I’m sure I missed out on a lot by not going.

To start, I met two writer friends for lunch, Claire and Charlotte. We’d never met in person, only online, and it was great to put voices to faces. And luckily for me, their social media photos actually looked like them, so we recognized each other—a daunting prospect otherwise, when you’re scanning thousands of faces walking through the lobby! We had a great lunch and got along well. 

Afterwards, I hung out in the lobby for a while. I got to fangirl over Christi Caldwell, but played it cool while we chatted and joked about cutting in line. These conferences are great because really, authors are just like everyone else, and it’s fun to see them that way.

An agent who has expressed interest in the types of books I write recognized me and mentioned again how much she’d love to see something from me. That was tremendously flattering, and I’m working on it. I have no idea if it will fit in with what she thinks she can sell, but it was uplifting, and made me feel great.

While charging my phone at the shoe shine station—seriously, it was the ONLY place in the entire lobby where I could find a plug—I met up with another author in person. Kerry and I are also with the same publisher and have never met in person. But our personalities are similar and we were looking forward to seeing each other. Although it was only for a short time—although long enough for her to laugh at my location—it was fun, and I’m looking forward to the future when we can spend more time together.

Then I hung out with one of my critique partners while she was in between workshops/meetings. Laurie and I meet for coffee and shopping frequently, and she’s my plot genius, so whenever I have a problem with how to get my characters from point A to point B, I call her. We discussed #ownvoices and #diversity and she did me a HUGE favor (thank you again!). As usual, I left our conversation motivated and feeling great.

While waiting for a dinner engagement, I met and chatted with another author. Amy Andrews is from Australia, so while we didn’t discuss her books (but you should check them out), we did talk about her home country and sightseeing in New York. 

And finally, it was time for my publisher’s pizza party. Again, it was a lot of fun seeing Rhonda and meeting up with a whole bunch of people I know through our author chats but have never met in person. Peggy is just as much fun in person as she is online, and Jeny was so sweet! There were a bunch of others, the pizza was good (it’s New York, after all), and I’m so glad I went. Afterwards, Charlotte and I went for drinks before I finally came home way past my bedtime.

I’m so glad I went. Not only did I meet great friends, new and old, but talking to everyone, hearing about their feelings, which are similar to mine, solving problems and just drinking in the vibe, recharged my batteries. I’m so much more enthusiastic about what I’m doing, so grateful to my tribe for lifting me up and helping me, and I can’t wait to complete the projects I’m working on.

Monday, July 22, 2019

It's Conference Time

If you know any romance writers, chances are you’ve heard us talking about writers’ conferences—if nothing else, you’ve seen photos of the shoes we’re planning to bring (lots, and way more than we could possibly wear). But just in case I’m the ONLY romance writer you know, let me clue you in.

This week in New York City is the Romance Writers of America’s annual four-day conference. It’s a big deal. There are famous writers who speak—Nora Roberts, for example; workshops on everything from what not to do at a conference—don’t accost editors and agents in the bathroom—to how to market your books to how to self-publish; and pitching sessions, where we get a chance to talk about our manuscripts to our dream editor and agents in the hopes that they’ll love them as much as we do. 

It’s exhausting and inspiring and filled to the brim with noise and people and food and workshops and drinks.

I’m not officially going this year. Despite its proximity to my house, the timing doesn’t work for me. So instead, I’m taking the train into the city on one of the days to mingle in the lobby and meet up with writer friends I only know via social media. Plus, I’m having dinner with my editor—there are about 30 of us and we’re having a pizza party in her hotel room. Just picture that many romance writers in one hotel room. Together. Oh boy.

And, it means I can wear whatever cute shoes I want. They don’t have to be comfortable for four days of walking; just comfortable enough to get me from the subway to the hotel. I will be eating more food than I’ve ever wanted, since I’m meeting up with people throughout the day and each meeting seems to involve a meal and/or coffee. I might jet out to a museum to take up some downtime between unofficial appointments. And I’ll probably join the multitudes of writers sitting in the lobby, hogging an outlet as we charge our computers and write. 

Writing is a solitary experience. We spend most of our time alone at home on our computers. So when we have the chance to mingle with other writers, even the most introverted of us takes the opportunity. Besides, there are few other people who understand our quirks and can banter along with us about sex scenes without getting arrested or written up for inappropriate workplace talk. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Don't Quit

I needed to see this quote today.

What do you do when you’re frustrated or discouraged? 

Writing is tough. It’s tough to find the inspiration and the words. And when you do find them, it’s even tougher to get them on the page the way they formed in your head. And convincing others to publish them and read them and review them? 

Sometimes I wonder whether or not it’s worth it. But even if I take a break, I still think about writing and how much I love doing it. And I still get inspired by the “what ifs.” And I still make plans.

So, if you’re like me, keep going. Don’t give up. Take a walk, take a trip, eat something yummy, find something beautiful and then go back to it. Because giving up is never an option.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A New Book By Peggy Jaeger

In a scene from the movie version of Sex and the City, Carrie reads the Cinderella fairy tale story to Charlotte’s daughter Lily. At the end of the telling, Lily wants to hear it again and looks completely enraptured with the tale. Carrie gives her a wary look and asks, “You know this isn’t true, right? It doesn’t happen in real life?”

Lily just looks up at her and says, “Again,” meaning she wants to hear the story, not Carrie’s negative take on it.

Like Lily, I was enamored with the Cinderella fairy tale when I was a kid. I watched the Leslie Ann Warren version of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical on tv about 100 times. As an adult, one who writes romantic fiction for a living, Cinderella still does it for me as far as the whole Happily Ever after theme goes, and I’ve dreamed of writing my own version of the tale for years.


This is 2019 and my Cynderella ain’t no broken down stepchild sittin’ in the corner covered in dirt and used as unpaid labor for a biatchof a menopausal step-monster.

My Cynderella Jones is the CEO of a company she founded called DIRTY DAMSELS, which caters to New York’s rich and elite who pay her company to keep their condos, mansions, and pied-a-terres spotless. Cynderella manages a stable of 20 and 30-something out of work actresses and between jobs models as her cleaning crew and she treats them with respect and kindness.

No more rags for this Cynderella, either. She wears designer labels and red power suits now. And she isn’t sitting at home by the dirty fireplace waiting for a prince to come and snatch her from penury. She made her success happen all by herself with an MBA from Columbia and a sound business plan.

And although Ella doesn’t need a man in her life she sure would like one, not to support her financially, but emotionally.  

Like the fairy tale of yore, my version of Cynderella sports a handsome, rich, Prince, who is smitten with Ella. But each of them has a secret they’re keeping from the other, and when it’s discovered, their fairy tale HEA is in some serious jeopardy.

When I first saw Cynderella all covered in soot in that sexy maid uniform, I knew I wanted to be her Prince.

She’s a small and savvy businesswoman who’s built her cleaning company from the ground up. But now that Dirty Damsels is booming, I’ve been hired to arrange a hostile takeover.

But the temptation of having her was too much to ignore… We ended up spending one night together—a night neither of will forget. Now, I want more. I need more. I want to spend every night, skin-on-skin, with my beautiful Ella.

Problem is, when she finds out who I really am, she’ll never forgive me.


“You feel it too, don’t you?” he asked softly, the pressure on my hand tightening a little. “I’m not wrong, am I?”
I shook my head and sighed. “No.” I admitted, stunned at myself. Disclosure is not my strong point in relationships. I tend not to be a great trust-er and don’t like revealing my thoughts and feelings. It goes way back to when my dad married my stepmother. She didn’t like me, and her two daughters didn’t, either. Any time I tried to be friends with them, or get them to like me, I got shot down, ridiculed, and treated like dirt. When my dad died, it got worse.
Way worse.
“From the moment you turned around from the fireplace I haven’t been able to think much of anything else but you.” He leaned in closer across the table. “When I saw you in the club, for a moment I thought jet lag had gotten to me and I was hallucinating. Happily hallucinating,” he added with a grin. “I couldn’t stop myself from going over to see if it really wasyou. I’m not usually the kind of guy who does that.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off of his face. If he was handing me a line, it was the best one I’d heard in a while, and boy, did I want to believe it.
“Even minus the kerchief I recognized you. Your face…well…it’s unforgettable, even without ashes across your cheek.”
His fingers started doing the knuckle swirling thing again and all my nerve endings jumped.
“I hope I’m not embarrassing you,” he said.
“No. Embarrassed isn’t what I’m feeling.” I lifted the coffee mug with my free hand and, miraculously, got it up to my mouth without spilling it all over myself.
I watched his striking eyes widen over the rim of the mug. “A statement like that gives a guy a huge amount of hope.” 

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Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer!

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, Peggy is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Best Beach Vacations

Please welcome Julie Howard, talking about her best beach vacations and highlighting her latest book. 

In honor of July 4 weekend, I’m writing about my top five beach vacations EVER.

I’ve been to a lot of beaches. A California native, I consider myself an expert. I’ve been from the Mexico border all the way up to Oregon – and why stop? – past the Canadian border and into Alaska. I’ve been to Monte Carlo and Spain, Greece and Hawaii, Mexico and Italy. There’s a lot of water in this world and that means stunning beaches everywhere.

But travel is personal and we view life through our own filter. I can only tell you which beach vacations of mine were the best. Here they are:

1.    Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii. If you never watched the movie South Pacific, you need to search Netflix or your library right away. The beautiful scenery from this movie is from this beach and it looks exactlythe same. The steep green cliffs meeting the blue water lapping the white sand is stunning. My family did a long-awaited reunion there a few years ago and this enriches my memory of this vacation. We ate grilled yellowfin tuna my husband and son caught, hiked to waterfalls, lazed on the beach, and enjoyed time together. Perfect!
2.    MacKerricher State Park, northern California. We camped in this park, 150 miles north of San Francisco, when our kids were young. Nearby were giant redwoods, tidal pools, hiking trails, and always, always, the sound of surf hitting the shore. We went horseback riding during the day and roasted gooey marshmallows at night over a crackling campfire. The place offered enough beauty to fill my soul while being family friendly too.
3.    La Paz, Mexico. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the place where my husband proposed. We boated out to an island one evening for dinner and shared our dreams for the future. Maybe this was a test to make sure our plans aligned, but by dessert we were engaged. I’ll never forget the beach, the town, or the traditional old church in the town square.
4.    Glass Beach, Oregon. There are “sea glass beaches” in several locations but the one we stopped at a couple of years ago in Lincoln City was amazing! The beach was made up of polished glass pebbles, in all the colors of the rainbow. I joined others in sifting through the small rocks – the green ones were my favorites – and collecting a handful to take home. They remain on my counter as a reminder of this visit.
5.    Not all beaches are along the ocean. One of my favorite beaches is along Redfish Lake in my home state of Idaho. This pristine mountain lake, the story goes, gained its name because the salmon runs used to be so plentiful that the lake would turn red with their mature bodies when the fish returned to spawn. Redfish Lake sits high in the Sawtooth Mountains and some of the tallest jagged peaks are visible from the lake’s edge. The lake is snow fed and the water, while cold for swimming, is crystal clear. A gorgeous stop-over if you’re ever in Idaho. It’s a local favorite.

The remote and haunting Sawtooth Mountains is also the setting for my Wild Crime series. Book Two, Crime Times Two, is on sale for 99 cents for just a few more days! 

When divorce is out of the question, can murder be forgiven?

Blurb from “Crime Times Two” 
Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.
While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn't talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder. 
As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…
She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?

Excerpt from “Crime Times Two”:

Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.
Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.
Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”
The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.
He shook his head, morose.
“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series and Spirited Quest. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at

Twitter @_juliemhoward

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