Monday, September 17, 2018

Who Am I?

On this cloudy Monday, after a busy weekend and a bad night’s sleep, I’m sitting here staring at my mug of coffee. It’s not much different than any other mug of coffee, except this one has my name on it. It was given to me by an old boyfriend a long time ago and I keep it because it’s useful. I’m not sentimentally attached to the mug, or to the boyfriend, really. But it’s a nice size and it holds coffee, so I use it.

This morning, because I am tired, I posted on Instagram ( that the name on the mug was helping me to remember who I am. While I am tired, I’m not THAT tired. I know who I am. But this time of year always makes me think about who I am inside, and who I want to be. I’m pretty self-aware. For the most part, I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I make lots of mistakes, and I definitely need to improve things about myself. But I’m a work in progress, so that’s okay.

Thinking about myself inevitably leads me to think about the characters I create. While my characters are never me or my husband, there are times I’ll let a character borrow one of my traits, or I’ll use my own experiences in dealing with people to influence how my characters will react—sometimes they’ll react as I might, but more often than not, I’ll have them react differently (it’s much more fun).

My favorite part of creating the characters I write is their internal conflicts. What makes them tick and why? How can they grow? Where will they fail? Sometimes it’s cathartic to have them work out something I wish I could work out. Other times it’s fun to get my revenge. Still other times they have absolutely nothing to do with me. It’s fiction, that’s my right. 

In my upcoming book, Learning to Love, I was able to play with misconceptions. Adam, the hero, gives off this vibe of perfection—handsome, wealthy and successful. Or is he? Underneath, he’s not, and he will do anything to make sure no one finds out. So of course my heroine, Dina, not only had to be the opposite of him, but had to be able to see inside him too. She’s brilliant and awkward with frizzy hair, and she can tell he’s not all he seems on the outside. Creating two flawed characters who have to work to accept not only the other person’s imperfections, but their own, was challenging and rewarding.

Now, if they can do it, I certainly can! But first, coffee.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Secondary Characters by Jana Richards

Please welcome Jana Richards, a fellow Wild Rose Press author, talking about secondary characters:

My Favorite Secondary Characters in the Love at Solace Lake Series
I love secondary characters. They can provide comic relief or be the villain of the story. They are trusted friends, someone the main character can confide in and use as a sounding board. They can do or say outrageous things that the main characters may not be able to. 
And they are necessary to the story. I believe secondary characters help give color and depth to a story. Just as in real life, our fictional main characters don’t want to live in the world alone. They too have family and friends they love and depend on. 
I recently released my Love at Solace Lake series about three sisters who inherit their grandfather’s decaying fishing lodge in Minnesota. They work together to try to bring it back to life. There are several secondary characters in the three books; some appear in all three books and some in only one. Here are three of my favorite characters.
Abby Hansonfirst appears in LIES AND SOLACE, book 1 of the series. She’s also an important character in book 2 (SECRETS AND SOLACE) and book 3 (TRUTH AND SOLACE). Abby was best friends with the Lindquist sisters’ deceased mother, and she’s always been someone the sisters have trusted and confided in. But Abby has secrets. She knows things, things she’s kept from Harper, Scarlet and Maggie. When she finally divulges her secrets, she’ll shake their world. 
The kitchen was sunny and warm, though not terribly big. While Abby put the kettle on to boil, Harper took off her jacket and hung it over the back of her chair. 
“What made you and Reese decide to come back to Minnewasta?”
Abby placed a couple of teabags into a pot. “It was time to come home. This is where we belong.”
Harper blinked at her enigmatic answer. What did ‘it was time’ mean? Time for what?

Tessa Hainstockalso appears in all three books, but we learn a lot about her and her relationship with her father in book 2, SECRETS AND SOLACE. Tessa is the five-year-old daughter of Cameron Hainstock, the hero of book 2. Tessa is sunny and bright, and Cameron would do anything for her. Through her, we discover that tough-guy Cameron has a big, kind heart, even when some of the things he says might make us, and Scarlet, think otherwise. Tessa is also important in showing Scarlet that she really could love a child and be a mother, something she never thought possible. 
He scooped Tessa into his arms and held her securely against his shoulder with one arm. She woke, her eyes at half-mast. “Love you, Daddy. To the moon and back.”
He kissed her forehead and repeated the mantra they used every night she spent with him. “To the moon and back, pumpkin.” 
She went back to sleep, once more as limp as a ragdoll.

Phyllis Carlssonwas a hoot to write. She appears only in book 3, TRUTH AND SOLACE, Maggie Lindquist and Luke Carlsson’s story. She’s Luke Carlsson’s grandmother and Abby Hanson’s mother. She can come out with funny, sometimes irreverent things that make Luke want to laugh. Or cry. Phyllis has been Luke’s rock since childhood and she continues to support him through the difficult times he’s facing now. But Phyllis is no pushover; if she thinks Luke needs to do better, you can believe she’ll let him know. 
“Your mother says you haven’t been to see her in a couple of days.”
The wrench slipped and clanked against the copper pipe. Luke had no answer for her. The truth was he’d been hiding, either at the lodge or with chores at his grandmother’s house. He couldn’t make himself go to her.
“I know it hurts. I know you feel powerless because I feel that way myself. And I’m angry, angrier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m so angry that Abby is leaving me that I want to spit. I want to hit someone. I want to break something. It’s not supposed to be this way.”
Luke’s heart thumped painfully in his chest. He didn’t want to hear about his grandmother’s pain. His own grief tore at him like a wild animal, consuming him piece by piece. He couldn’t deal with her grief as well. He fitted the wrench carefully on the pipe once more.
“But you know what, Luke? Every day I put on my big girl panties, and I suck it up to walk the two blocks to my daughter’s house. I help her wash her hair or take a bath, and I make tea and chat. Whatever she needs. But I always make sure I share a laugh with her. Because right now, it’s not about me and my suffering. It’s about Abby.”

Secondary characters are a necessary part of romance fiction. They add color and life, provide reality checks for the main characters, and offer a shoulder to lean on. And they are definitely fun to write. Who are some of your favorite secondary characters from favorite books and movies?

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Series Blurb:
Love is worth the risk…
 As the sisters struggle to breathe new life into the failing lodge, old fears and questions rise to the surface even as new love presents itself. Why did their father murder their mother? What truths did their grandparents keep from them? The sisters must fight to keep the wounds of the past from putting their futures, and their fledgling relationships, in jeopardy.  

Blurb for Lies and Solace:
She can’t live with one more lie. He can’t tell the truth.
Harper Lindquist is convinced she’s found the answer to her financial prayers. Unless she pours cash into crumbling Solace Lake Lodge, she’ll lose her family’s legacy. Her would-be savior arrives in the middle of a Minnesota blizzard and she’s determined to prove to her reluctant, and trapped, financier the lodge is a sound investment. But Harper isn’t completely honest with him. And she has no idea the lake is hiding secrets of its own.

Ethan James is a liar, but his money is very real. He isn’t convinced a broken-down inn is a smart investment opportunity. But the more he understands Harper’s dreams and desires, the more he wants to be the man to make them come true. The trauma in both their pasts means neither can fully trust the other. They must find the courage to love, to trust, and to accept, or yesterday’s sorrows will keep them apart.

She’d just placed the last dish onthe drain board when Ethan entered the kitchen, his hair still damp from his shower. He’d shaved with the razor she’d found for him and was wearing his own clothes again.Once more the elegant, well-dressed businessman. The chasm grewbetween them even as he stood in her kitchen. She was stupid to believe there could ever be anything aside from business between them.
She lifted her chin, determined not to let her fa├žade slip. “I’ve gathered all my estimates and drawings and put them in a bag so you can take them with you.”
“I appreciate that.”
They walked together to the front door,and Harper lifted his beautiful overcoat from the coat tree. It still held the scent of his after-shave,and she had to resist the urge to raise it to her nose and breathe it in. Instead,she held it out to him with a forced smile. “Have a safe trip back to Minneapolis, Ethan.”
“Thanks.” He took the coat from her and slipped it on. “I want to thank you for your hospitality.”
“It was my pleasure.”
So formal. But it was the only way she could get through the next few minutes. 
He picked up the cloth bag with all her information on the renovation project. “Goodbye, Harper. I’ll be in touch soon.”
“Goodbye.”She shook his outstretched hand briefly.
He opened the front door and headed toward his truck. Harper grabbed a sweater from the coat tree and stood in the open doorway watching him leave, not quite able to shut the door on him despite the biting cold. 
Halfway to the truck, Ethan stopped. For a second,he stood completely still, his head bowed. Then he dropped the bag, turned on his heel, and walked back to her, his steps full of purpose. 
“Did you forget something?”
He pulled her into his arms, his mouth descending on hers with an urgency that set her blood on fire. She moaned as she molded herself against him, her arms winding around his neck, her fingers tangling in his damp hair. He swept her mouth with his tongue, demanding a response. She gave herself over to his kiss, loving the sweet taste of his mouth, the clean smell of his skin, the solid feel of his body.
All too soon he broke the kiss. He grasped her shoulders and pushedaway from her, breathing hard. She searched his facefor answers. 
“I have to go,” he said. “I’ll call you soon.”
She nodded, unable to speak. He released her and walked backto his truck. No longer sheltered in his arms, the bitter cold swept through her. She pulled her sweater more securely around her shoulders.
Harper watched Ethan pull out of the driveway, her heart racing. When she could no longer see his truck, she closed the front door and leaned against it. The taste of him remained on her tongue and she could still smell his clean scent. Excitement and fear danced up and down her spine, fighting a duel inside her to decide which one ruled supreme. 
Fear won. In one way or another, everyone she’d ever cared about had left her. She couldn’t bear for Ethan to be one more person on that list.

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist. 
In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Seventeen Years

Seventeen years ago was The Princess’ first day of pre-school.

Seventeen years ago, They carried out a plan. I did too.

With military-like precision, my husband and I woke at the crack of dawn, he for work and I for getting ready for the day. A two-and-a-half year old and a six week old did not make for leaving things to chance. In a bathroom barely big enough for one person—and one in which I had been unable to fit in while pregnant—my husband and I took turns, one showering and getting ready and the other feeding the baby and making sure the big sister didn’t overly love her to death. We dressed in clothes already laid out and gave out last minute advice. We made sure to eat a healthy breakfast—still being newbies, we assumed that was the only way to start the day.

Seventeen years ago, They shopped for supplies. I did too.

The Princess and I bought school clothes. She’d always had specific ideas of what she would and wouldn’t wear, and I went along with it because it wasn’t a battle I was planning to fight. We picked out dresses and pants and tops that matched (and in some cases, really, really didn’t). And hair bows and barrettes. We chose a colorful book bag and marveled at what a big girl she was. We couldn’t wait for this day and counted down to it.

Seventeen years ago, They left on their journey. We did too.

We strapped into car seats and infant seats and seat belts on a bright sunny morning and drove to preschool, listening to our Music Together tapes and singing along. The sky was a bright blue and so clear we could see the New York City skyline from the top of the hill. I pointed it out.

Seventeen years ago, we accomplished the first of many goals. They did not.

The buildings fell while The Princess was at school and while I sat rocking my new baby and wondering what kind of world I’d brought her into, They danced, hoping to see us fail. But we didn’t. We got knocked down then, and some might say we’ve been knocked down—or are seriously wobbling—now, but their dream didn’t happen. 

Mine did. 

The Princess started school and her journey to becoming a successful human. I don’t remember the specifics of what she did that day. I know she colored, because it’s preschool, and glitter became a part of my house, as much as the mirrors and furniture that inhabited it. I know she bossed the other kids around, because it’s in her DNA and she still does that. I know she asked a ton of questions. And I know she loved it. In the years since, she and her sister have carried on their school journeys, learning the value of education over ignorance, hope over fear—even though sometimes that wobbles, too—and kindness, love and compassion over hatred. All mixed in with a healthy dose of humor, snark and yes, a little back-talk, because, well, we’re human, not perfect.

They learned the rules of the sandbox. They navigate the evil world of girls. They study hard. They laugh and have fun. And they have big plans to change the world, not by knocking down buildings or crashing airplanes, but by finding their voices and using them.

The Princess is loud. Her voice WILL be heard, regardless of how you feel about it.

I will never forget that day. In between the crayons and the hair bows, I will always remember the sounds and the looks and the terror (as well as the kindness). I will never forget the near misses and the friends who were lost. But this time around, instead of feeling ashamed of how much I looked forward to this day seventeen years ago, I’m going to feel proud. 

Because ultimately, they failed. We didn’t.

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Last First

Tomorrow, school starts. Banana Girl will be a senior, so the year will be filled with “lasts.” But whereas I could console myself when The Princess was a senior going through her lasts, because I’d still get one more shot, now, I don’t. It’s the last of the “lasts.”

I found Banana Girl’s first, first day of school pic, and I’ll post it tomorrow along with her last, first day of school pic. And while I might be able to recreate the less-than-smiley look (I mean, she is a teenager, after all), I can’t recreate her tiny size, or her ability to fit inside her school bag. 

She already purchased her school supplies—without me. Loving her new independence now that she can drive, she decided to go to Staples to buy what she assumed she’d need, beating the crowds and ensuring a good selection. Great idea, in theory. Except I didn’t get to walk through the store with her, embarrassing her with my glee that she was going back to school. That’s probably why she did it, come to think of it. 

I’ve been congratulating her along the way for things she completes, such as, “Yay, your last band camp is over!” She smiles and nods and I suspect it’s going to get old for her soon. But I need to have some enjoyment. Plus, acknowledging the “last” brings a little more attention to it, and perhaps provides a little more appreciation for it.

Pretty soon we’ll move onto new firsts—first college application sent, first response, etc. 

But for now, I’m treasuring the lasts.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Phases & Friends

The Princess is back at school, so summer is officially over. We moved her in this weekend and it’s a lot easier to do when they’re sophomores and know what’s going on. It’s also easier when it’s an apartment with a common area that you can use as a landing area, one roommate is already moved in, you bring less stuff (imagine that!), and the air conditioning works really well. Almost made up for the first-floor walkup.

It was great seeing her with all her friends, girls who were just as happy to see her as she was to see them. And it got me thinking about my own friendships. I may not have gone to camp, and I certainly wasn’t in a sorority, but I have friends—both current and lifelong—who would go great distances for me and who have my back. They make me laugh and support me when I need it.

Like everyone, I also have those who don’t. It’s not that they’re people I dislike, but they’re more like “phases” than “friends.” They were important at a particular time, but as that time has passed, they’ve faded, as have I for them. And while I might miss the closeness we once shared, I still look back fondly at them.

As I wait eagerly to hear about The Princess’ new classes and experiences this year, I take comfort in knowing she’s in the right place with the right people. And nothing makes me happier.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Welcome to Claire Marti

Readers have asked me if I base my characters on real people. Yes and no. My stories are character driven and I definitely incorporate qualities from different people I know or strangers I’ve observed. A full-bellied laugh, a husky voice, or a quirky habit might appear in one of my fictional people. 

In Sunset in Laguna, I delved into my own personal disenchantment with practicing law to fuel some of heroine Kelly Prescott’s motivation to leave her father’s high-profile corporate firm. The last six months of my short legal career, I cried in the shower every morning, wondering how I would get through the day. I was 28 years old. 

Like many others, I attended law school for all the wrong reasons. I had no clue what to do with my English and French degree and I loved to talk and write. A desire to save the whales, protect the environment, and do it while wearing fancy suits in polished courtrooms just like on television played a role in my decision too. Brilliant, right? 

Not really. In law school, I realized early on I didn’t fit in, but I’m stubborn so I refused to quit. Then, I clerked at an excellent firm, passed the formidable California bar on the first attempt, and received an offer from a respectable mid-sized firm. Weren’t those all signs I was on the right path? 

Not really. As most people know, television legal dramas are not accurate representations. I was bored, over-worked, and the only adrenaline pumping came from the caffeine I mainlined to stay awake. You haven’t lived until you’ve deposed fifty homeowners living in a golf course community complaining of holes in their windows from stray golf balls. 

As time passed, boredom morphed into disillusionment. The legal system I learned about in school didn’t exist in real life. Instead, most cases were petty fights over money that could have been worked out if the parties would discuss the issues like adults. Many of the lawyers I dealt with had zero interest in resolving the cases and had no qualms lying, cheating, or acting like nasty middle-school bullies. Many of the battles felt more like personal affronts instead of legal disputes. I didn’t want to live in this environment. So I left and started over. 

Kelly Prescott shares my vision of using the law for justice and when she moves to a veteran’s non-profit, she is finally using her gifts to help others.


Returning to Laguna Beach after four tours in the Middle East, Christian Wolfe leaves the military behind and buys a wine bar, vowing to keep his life simple. He fights to keep his devastating PTSD a secret and refuses to burden anyone else with his baggage. When stunning Kelly Prescott and her red stilettos saunter into town, she drives him past the bonds of his self-control.

Successful in her father’s stuffy law firm, Kelly’s too compassionate to survive in the cutthroat world of corporate litigation. Leaving behind both family and courtroom drama, she moves to Laguna to become general counsel for a nonprofit veterans’ organization.

She didn’t bargain on a gorgeous modern-day Heathcliff, and in Christian, she sees another kind of challenge—one she can’t resist.



Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress. 

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. At Last in Laguna is the second book in her Finding Forever in Laguna seriesfrom The Wild Rose Press.


Twitter:  @clairepmarti

Instagram: @clairepmarti


Maybe he just needed a punishing session with the punching bag or a few fingers of Jameson whiskey. Stop being such a damn wuss. Workouts and alcohol weren’t driving the demons away. He stepped forward. 
Something needed to change.
“Christian?” A husky voice lilted his name.
His head whipped to the right. A beautiful woman dressed in a conservative dark suit and tortoiseshell glasses stared at him. Somewhere in his brain he registered dangerously toned legs encased in red skyscraper-high stilettos. 
Sweat popped onto his brow, and he swallowed, his throat suddenly parched. Recognition flooded his system when he dragged his gaze up from those spiked heels. Her tawny cat eyes captured his—Kelly Prescott. Didn’t she live in San Diego? 
“Um, hey, Kelly.” What the hell was she doing at Peaceful Warrior? 
“What are you—?”

“Why are you—?”

“Ladies first.” Distract. Deflect. Damn it to hell. 
“Well, it’s kind of a secret at the moment, but I’m about to interview for the general counsel position here.” The corners of her rosy lips curved up.
“General counsel?” For some reason he couldn’t seem to utter more than two words at a time. 
“Yes. They’ve needed one for a long time and recently got a grant to fund it. So here I am.” She walked toward him. Hints of cinnamon and some exotic scent assaulted his nostrils. 
He drew in his abs and expanded his chest. Kind of like a rooster. He grunted. “You’re going to commute?”
“No, if I get the job, I’m actually moving up here.” She shrugged and flashed perfect white teeth, oblivious of his discomfort. 
“Huh.” Over a year ago, her golden beauty had caught his attention when she’d accompanied his buddy Nick and Sophie to Vines. He’d been single at the time—hell, he was always single—and asked Nick about her. She was Sophie’s best friend. His attraction cooled when he’d learned she was a wealthy corporate attorney working for her daddy’s firm and dating another lawyer. Too complicated. 
“So what are you doing here?” She tilted her head up, still about a foot shorter than he was, even with those damn shoes that would be forever burned into his brain. 
“Oh, just taking a break from work, getting some fresh air.” He gestured with palms sweatier than they’d ever been in the searing heat of the Middle East. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Please Welcome Rachel Brimble

Inspiration behind The Mistress of Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble…

It comes as no surprise that the inspiration for The Mistress of Pennington’s came to me after a mini-obsession with the TV series The Paradise and Mr Selfridge. I adored these shows, but something was missing for me. I soon realised I wanted more focus on the female issues of the time.
Women in business, the suffrage movement, laws against women’s freedom with regard to property and money…the taboo of divorce. As soon as I had pinpointed the theme of what I wanted to write, ‘Female Empowerment’, I knew that a single book wasn’t going to cut it and I’d found my next historical series. I was so excited to get started!
And so, came the research…always a pleasure to a history addict like me.
I had to, of course, start that research by re-watching the TV series I loved, Titanic and A Room With A View – all fantastic fodder for a feel of the Edwardian period and the frustrations of women living at the time.
Then came the books! Good lord, did I read a LOT of non-fiction books covering the era – in fact, I was so inspired by several real-life stories of the period that I made another file of facts, dates around another theme set in the Edwardian period but I won’t be sharing that scoop today in case my idea never comes to fruition!
Suffice to say, when I came to plotting and finally writing the first draft of The Mistress of Pennington’s, I knew the heroine, Elizabeth Pennington, would be a strong, forward-thinking woman determined to be recognised by her father as the rightful heiress of Pennington’s Department Store. Not only is Elizabeth determined to inherit the mammoth store but also run it as she fits, ensuring all classes, genders and backgrounds are welcome in the store as customers oremployees.
This book was an absolute joy to write and the reviews so far have been fantastic! The next book is written and due for release early 2019 and now I am writing book 3.
Welcome to Pennington’s! I hope you’ll stay and watch some amazing women grow and start to make some changes to their worlds…
Rachel x

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath's leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.
Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath's premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.
Determined to break from her father's iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington's into a new decade, embracing woman's equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.
Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington's plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

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In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!
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