Monday, March 25, 2019

Chaos

There’s chaos everywhere. As expected, the Mueller report was released and will now cause even more debate as both sides debate, well, everything. Great Britain doesn’t know what the heck it’s doing and Canada’s gorgeous PM is plagued by scandal (Canada? Really?).

When the world goes crazy, I retreat into Romancelandia. Except there too, there is chaos. The Rita Awards finalists were just announced, and once again, we have a problem with underrepresentation of authors of color. The fact that not a single author of color has received the award in its 37-year history, despite exceedingly qualified candidates is a problem. A huge problem. A judging problem. One that the RWA Board is working on, but nevertheless, a huge problem that should never have gotten this far. I have several good writing friends (white ones) who have finaled in this contest (the equivalent of the Oscars in the movies) and a few who have won. They all deserved it and I’m so excited for them and proud of them. But there are many authors of color who are as good or better and who deserve it just as much. 

Interested in who I’m talking about?

Alyssa Cole: https://alyssacole.com
Sonali Dev: https://sonalidev.com

There are plenty more. Try someone new. Try someone different. Step out of your comfort zone. 

And regardless of your politics, race, gender, or beliefs, stand up for what’s right.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Pride

As a mom of two college students (well, one and a half, since Banana Girl will officially be one in September), I was obsessed with, and horrified by, the reports of the college admissions bribery scandal that overtook the news last week.

I’ll admit, it was a relief to have something other than politics and violence dominate the news, and I was no longer embarrassed to be caught scanning the reputable (and not so reputable) entertainment sites in pursuit of “more information.”

But overwhelmingly, I was heartbroken. I’m not going to debate white privilege. This was a perfect example of it, and if you don’t see that, well, you’re part of the problem. I’m part of the problem, too. I’m one of the white parents who goes outside what her kids’ school offers, and pays for SAT tutors and college counselors. I don’t regret it at all. A guidance counselor at our high school has 400 students to help with college admissions (at least). Someone I pay has a max of 20. A guidance counselor doesn’t work during the summer, on weekends, nights or holidays. My kids work on their applications at precisely those times—in fact, Banana Girl wrote her college essay at summer camp, FaceTiming her counselor (the one I paid for), during her off periods to go over it. My kids were tutored, but they took their tests on time and on their own. The only "tricks" they learned were test-taking strategies. The college counselor gave them tips and advice, but left the work up to them. They wrote their own essays and they filled in their resum├ęs with their activities—and only the activities in which they had a pivotal role. The Princess wouldn't even let me see her essays, despite the fact that I'm a professional writer--to this day, I have no idea what she wrote. 

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the parents who were caught, and frankly, I don’t care, as long as they’re punished. I think the system needs to be overhauled, obviously. But I do feel for the kids, even the ones who knew what was happening. Because those kids are never going to know the true joy of getting into a school they worked their asses off to get into. They’re never going to know what it’s like to be sick to their stomach worrying about whether or not they’re going to get in, to studying the graphs and charts of acceptances and wondering if their grades and scores and achievements and activities are enough on their own merits. The Princess got into the school of her choice and experienced those exact doubts. I still have the photo of her when she found out she was accepted, and the joy on her face is not something you can replicate if you’ve gamed the system. Banana Girl got into her reach school and her tears of joy were genuine. 

They’ve learned an important lesson, one they’ll need to remember throughout their life, and that is pride in their own work. Cheating is wrong in whatever form it comes in. And the reward for honesty is not only your achievement, but the pride you feel in knowing you set a goal, worked toward it, and made it. That feeling can’t be faked and can’t be paid for. And that’s why I pity those kids whose parents gamed the system. They will wonder for the rest of their lives if what they've achieved is due to themselves or their parents. 



Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Welcome Sandra Dailey

25 Crazy Days

So I approved the final galley of my new book, the Co-Parent Project, and received the cover art. I knew I’d have my release date soon. From past experience, I figured I’d have at least a couple months to prepare a good promotion plan. I had time to tidy up the loose ends of work in progress, personal and professional. Then, I woke up to an email from the publisher. My release date was only twenty-five days away. Everything in my life spun into chaos. Let me tell you what was already going on.
My dog, Archie, had just had surgery to remove three teeth, close a whole in his sinus cavity, and remove a cyst from his eyelid. He was on two prescriptions, twice a day, plus eye ointment, and barely getting down any food.  He was in pain and annoyed by the cone. He wanted to be held constantly. My heart was with him.


I only had three chapters left to write on the first draft of a new story. I figured I had plenty of down time to help out a few friends by reading ARCs for reviews--six of them to be exact.
I know this all sounds do-able, but I’m not finished.
My lawn and garden supplies had taken over my husband’s garage and half the laundry room. After endless complaints and a little discussion, I purchased a new shed that had to be built by hubby and myself the next weekend. Why the next weekend, you ask?


The week after the shed I had to strip all the carpet, padding, tack strips, and remaining lumps and bumps off the floors in the living room and master bedroom. It had to be down to the clean, even concrete. Why? Because, the new flooring had been delivered. Yes, hubby and I would be hard at work laying hundreds of feet of new wood laminate during his vacation days.
There’s another problem. Hubby was taking vacation time. That meant cooking actual meals, looking halfway presentable, answering all his questions, and keeping him entertained when not crawling around tapping floor planks together—which, by-the-way, were being stored in my office.


So, what have I accomplished as far as promo for the new release? It was too late to hire a promo company for a blog tour. I contacted all my friends to host me on their blogs. I contacted the people I was reading, and had recently read ARCs for to return the favor. And, I sent tons of emails to professional reviewers. All accomplished while eating meals at my desk. I don’t have bling purchased, contests planned, or events scheduled yet, but I do have awesome friends like Jennifer to get me started.

The Co-Parent Project 

Tag line:
Parenting style won't matter if they don't all survive.

Blurb:
Luca Wolff and Joy Sullivan are competing for guardianship of their estranged, teenage nephew, Eric, after his parents are killed in a plane crash. Evidence shows the crash wasn't an accident. Neither was a recent explosion that destroyed Luca's house. When a fire is intentionally set in Joy's home, suspicion points to Eric--and that's not the end of their trouble. Eric has been in his share of mischief, but now he has a chance to clean up his reputation. That's hard to do when the only people who believe in you are the ones you're accused of targeting. Just as Luca and Joy give in to romance, new information comes to light that could tear them apart along with Eric's dream for a happy family. The three have to set aside their grief, personal issues, and disagreements to figure out who is out to kill them…and why.

Buy Links:
Wild Rose Press:https://bit.ly/2EmYPGj
Barnes and Noble: https://bit.ly/2IrWA8V

Excerpt:
As soon as he walked through the door the smell of chemicals nearly drove him back outside. The odor was so strong it made his eyes water. He couldn’t take it anymore. “How can you live with the constant stench in this house?” “I’m sorry. Mrs. Erving needed a perm today.” Joy walked in through the kitchen door carrying a squeeze bottle of mustard. “I was just making lunch. Would you like a ham and cheese sandwich?” “No thanks,” he snarled. “All I’d be able to taste is that nasty smell.” “How can you taste a smell?” “You’d know if your olfactory receptors weren’t burned away. That stuff has got to cause brain damage.” “Do you plan to claim it as a way to get Eric away from me? I wouldn’t put anything past a Wolff.”

Author Bio:
From childhood I've moved from place to place, from Indiana to Florida, stopping in several places in between. I also moved from job to job; as a waitress, soldier, retail manager, dental assistant, etc… The one thing I never had to leave behind was my imagination. Storytelling has always been my favorite way to pass time. I've often been told I should write a book. Finally, I did. It was so much fun: I felt I must write more, so I have. I've been a student of Long Ridge Writers Group and once won a short story contest with Harlequin. I currently live in North Florida with my husband, whom I torture with crazy story lines and half written manuscripts.

Contact Info:

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Welcome Julie Howard

Spotlight on Spirited Quest

Tagline:

She’s chasing a ghost, but who is chasing her?


Blurb:
Paige Norman believes in a tangible, explainable world. When her ghost-hunting niece comes for a visit, she tries not to scoff. But someone, or something, is stirring up trouble at the Deerbourne Inn and her niece, Jillian, is at the center of the mystery.
Paige is certain the handsome Aussie photographer is behind the unexplained disturbances, and she warns her niece to stay clear. Meanwhile, Jillian gets to know the otherworldly Lady of the Deerbourne, who foretells an encounter with "two men." Then the pranks turn dangerous. Has her niece attracted a stalker or has she conjured an evil presence? Can the culprit be the man who has captured her heart? 


Excerpt:

He nodded a friendly greeting to her, his gaze grazing past to include others on the porch. “G’day, ma’am. G’day all.” 
An Australian. Her heart skipped a beat. Oh, to be twenty-five, even thirty-five, again. His gaze settled on her niece, and as always happened to men where this girl was concerned, his jaw slackened, then tightened. 
Next to her, Jillian grew still, lifting wide blue eyes to the newcomer. The moment passed. He was through the front door and into the lobby, and the door closed behind him. 
“You’re in for some nice company this week,” Paige commented with a smile. 
A frown flickered across her niece’s face. “I’ve seen him before.” 
“You’ve met?” 
“Not exactly. He appeared to me in a dream.” Jillian’s blue eyes were troubled as she gazed at the Inn’s front door. She lifted one hand and rubbed the back of her head, then gave a shiver. “There was blood and I was afraid.” 

Buy Links: 






Bio:
Julie Howard is the author of “Crime and Paradise” and “Crime Times Two.” She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.

Author Links:








Buy Links: 










Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Welcome Misty Simon

Please welcome fellow author, Misty Simon.

What is your writing style or schedule? 

I write every day or at least I try to. I have a full-time job so I write in the evenings or on breaks.

You must have a lot of energy! Where do you actually write? 

In a big fluffy chair I just got for my birthday! It is divine!!!

Sounds comfy! Do you write linearly or not? 

Absolutely and completely linearly. I admire those who can write out of order but that is so not me J
   
What sort of other activities keep you from actually writing? Oh, where to begin? LOL. I have a seventeen year old without a license who dances three times a week and is also in the spring musical. I have a full-time job and have been married for twenty-two years. I also have two small rambunctious dogs. Pick one! 

Ha! I know the feeling. Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group? 

I have support from all of the above. I belong to the lovely Roses in the garden at The Wild Rose Press, I have an amazing writing group through RWA as well as a smaller writing group of amazing friends. My family is 100% behind me and I couldn’t appreciate them more if I tried!

I understand. We can't do this without support (and I don't think enough people realize that). How long does it normally take you to write a novel? 

Anywhere from one to three months. It depends on if I have a deadline and a burning need to write this particular story.

Wow, you write quickly! Who or what are your inspirations? 

I’m inspired by every things from walking down the street and smiling at people to a bright flower in the middle of the snow. I try to take the perspective that everything is beautiful in its own way if you look at it from the right angle and tilt my head when necessary. I am also inspired by my child who just got accepted to the Savannah College of Art and Design. She’s following her dream and thanked me for showing her that it was possible, doable and shouldn’t be ignored no matter what you have to do to achieve it. 

That's wonderful! Congratulations to you and to her!  If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it? 

Oh! Not typing fast enough! Sometimes my brain runs faster than my fingers and losing that marvelous piece of a sentence because it slipped away makes me crazy!

I hate when that happens. Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment? 

A she shed with French doors and a weather vane on top.

LOL.Tell me about your latest book. 

Liv and Breathe is set in a small town in Central Pennsylvania. Liv runs a camp for inner city boys over the summer to give them a chance to explore a different way of life and give them skills to thrive with. When those same boys are falsely accused of tagging a neighboring farm and letting animals loose, she has to call the one man who holds her dream in his hands and can destroy it with one stroke of his pen on a sale agreement.

Where did you get your inspiration for your book? 

We have a camp near my house that houses girls and boys for the summer from inner cities and I thought that it would be wonderful opportunity to have two people who are total opposites come to grips with their pasts while helping these kids.

Do you have a favorite character and if so, who and why? 

I loved Liv and Alex in this book so much. They struggled and they fought but under it all they were going for the same thing.

Your book sounds great. What else are you working on now? 

I’m working on my next mystery for the Adventures In Ghostsitting Series that I write. Mel Hargrove owns a junkyard and everything in it has a ghost attached. They get into tons of trouble and are tons of fun!



Bio:
Misty Simon always wanted to be a storyteller…preferably behind a Muppet. Animal was number one, followed closely by Sherlock Hemlock… Since that dream didn’t come true, she began writing stories to share her world with readers, one laugh at a time. She knows how to hula, was classically trained to sing opera, co-wrote her high school Alma Mater,and can’t touch raw wood. Never hand her a Dixie cup with that wooden spoon/paddle thing. It’s not pretty.
Touching people’s hearts and funny bones are two of her favorite things, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at misty@mistysimon.com.

Links:

Blurb:
Olivia Jameson runs a summer camp called Breathe, giving inner-city kids a chance to see a different life. When the man who owned the camp died, leaving his dream to his son, Liv took charge, and the work means the world to her.
As far as Alex Campbell is concerned, the camp is a hands-off tax write-off. But when Liv calls because her boys are accused of property damage, Alex returns to the place he hasn't called home since age twelve…and to a girl he barely remembers, now a woman who stirs him like no city sophisticates ever have.
This is Liv's livelihood, her mission, her dream. Sharing it with a man who doesn't understand the impact is frustrating. But as he begins learning truths that were hidden from him, both Liv and Alex may have a change of heart. Can Liv open up her life one more time to love?
Excerpt:

The clink and clatter of silverware in the busy diner did nothing to block out the thoughts churning through Olivia Jameson’s head. She had made the call earlier this morning, and now she would have to live with the consequences. Hoping she’d survive the experience, she had her doubts it would be easy.
“What can I get you, hon?” Betty, the owner of Petri’s Dish, asked with pad and pencil in hand.
“Just coffee.” At the thought of the storm she may have created, Liv’s shoulders drooped.
Betty’s eyes narrowed behind her thick glasses. “Tell me what’s wrong. You never just order coffee, especially when I have my pineapple salsa pancakes on the Specials board.” Her hand went to her hip, while her expression became mutinous. “So you’re not still worrying about that little ruckus over at the Beckham farm, are you? I told you it would all blow over.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t blowing over. In fact, it had just gotten a whole lot bigger. “They’re pressing charges.” It was as simple and as complicated as that.
“What?” Bustling around the counter, Betty plopped down on the stool next to Liv. A crowd began to gather the second she did. She never sat down for anything, not even when she wasn’t working. “You better tell me what in the world is going on, right now.”
No matter what she said or did at this point, Liv knew the entire story was going to come out soon enough. Such was life in a community their size. Sometimes she wished she lived in Kissinger, the next town over, where everyone seemed to mind their own business.
She might as well take a chance and tell her side before Mr. High and Mighty came rolling into town—if he could unglue himself from his society life long enough to take any interest.
“Some boys in town say they saw my boys over in Beckham’s pastures trying to tip over cows. When these town kids came along, they said they spooked the camp boys, who took off running. According to the accusers, that’s how the fence was broken and how the alpacas got out and ran away. Beckham still hasn’t found two of them.”
By this time, there was a solid crowd of about twenty people hemming Liv and Betty in at the counter. As much as Liv appreciated the looks of outrage for her camp boys, and for the situation in general, she didn’t blame the Beckhams for pressing charges. Especially with the graffiti Mr. Beckham had told her was spray-painted on the side of his barn.
She just couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that her boys would do something so destructive when they knew the consequences and the punishment for not toeing the line.
“I don’t believe it,” Betty declared, and had the majority of the other people agreeing with her both verbally and by nodding their heads. “There’s no way the boys at Breathe would jeopardize their time here by doing something so stupid.”
Liv would have said the same thing to her boss, Alex Campbell, this morning if he’d picked up his phone. Instead she’d left him a message asking him to please come to the farm, and she’d explain when he got here. It would be far better to handle this face to face. That way she could plead the case for her boys and make him understand more easily than she could convey over email. She didn’t want him here, but she wasn’t able to figure out a way to avoid it.
“I agree,” Liv said to the diner at large, but worry still pulled her eyebrows together. “The problem is how do I prove it? I don’t want to accuse anyone else, and I can’t prove without a shadow of a doubt that the boys were all in their beds last night. Not even David. This is a huge mess, just in time for the annual cook-off.”
“Don’t you worry about the cook-off,” Tim from the mechanic’s shop said. “That’s all taken care of, except for a few details. We’ll figure something out with the boys, too. I’m coming there today to work on that car with them. I’ll ask some questions that maybe you can’t ask.”
There was a chorus of agreement while people all went their separate ways. She really appreciated the support, but who was going to be there when Mr. Campbell came riding in to shut down the camp because she wasn’t doing a good job as the director? She couldn’t—and wouldn’t—lose Breathe, a camp that had been around for almost eighty years. It housed underprivileged boys from major cities over the summer, giving them a chance to see real grass and real cows, to ride horses and learn skills and self-worth that would hopefully keep them out of gangs and make them productive members of society.

Buy link:
https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/paperback-books/6488-liv-and-breathe-paperback.html

Monday, February 25, 2019

The College Decision

Well, Banana Girl is officially going to college. In September. Like, we’ve committed and everything. 

We knew she was going. She applied, and was accepted to, five schools. So she was definitely going somewhere. We’ve known that since November, when the first acceptance came in. She’d even narrowed it down to two of the five, although she wasn’t willing to turn down the other three. It was just a matter of her deciding between her two favorites.

I had a clear preference, and she knew it, even though I tried to hide it. PSA, I don’t hide things well (yeah, I know, you knew that already). But I attempted to provide her objective guidance and let her come to her own decision. My husband took her to the Admitted Student Days at both schools—one right after the other, which made comparisons easy.

And from the moment she came back from the first visit, I knew her decision was made, even though she didn’t know it at the time. And it was not my preference. But you know what? After listening to her talk about the school, after getting a report from my husband that provided the answers to all of my questions (and some of them were BIG questions), and after studying her face and mannerisms while she talked about that school, I knew it was the right place for her. 

And I was okay with it.

Then she went to see the other school, the one I’d thought was her first choice. And she just didn’t click with it, despite her best attempts (and even though she liked the food there better, which, if you know Banana Girl, is a BIG deal).

Still, she wouldn’t make an immediate decision. 

If you have college-aged children, you have some idea of the pins and needles we were on until she decided. Everyone talks about how “you’ll know immediately” when you visit the “right” school. Yes, that’s true. But it’s a big decision, and my kid is a thinker and a planner and an evaluator. So even though she knew, she needed to be sure.

She surprised me on my birthday with her decision, and it was the best present I could ask for (although my necklace is beautiful and I love it!).

So I’ll have an empty nest in September. Now, to figure out how to fill up all that time…

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Welcome Jean Grant


Why the prequel and not a sequel?

When I wrote A Hundred Kisses it was set to be a standalone book. In fact, I had been writing stories set in 12thcentury Scotland for over a decade. After three practice novels, and much learning of the craft and business, I decided to leap forward to the 13th century and sprinkle in paranormal/mystical elements. Therein I found the magic! From that exploration arose Deirdre and Alasdair’s story in A Hundred Kisses: a ruthless baron, a dark past, a curse, deep secrets, and the mystical power of the Ancients. Not bad for a first book! (A little plug for Rosalind Ashford who narrated the audio book— her voice swept me away.)

I felt compelled to dig deeper into the mystical Silver Veil because Deirdre’s mother, Gwyn, also had a story to tell. And it so happened to be a pivotal time period for the [end of the] Norse (Viking) reign. The stars aligned and what came forth was a story about a merciful Healer, a scarred man hellbent on vengeance, and several unrelenting Nordmen. 

What next? I’m writing the final book in the trilogy (hint: it’s about Deirdre and Alasdair’s child). Each story in my “hundred” series explores the powers of the Ancients: Healing (water), Feeling (fire), Seeing (Wind), and the grounding force of Earth. Each book is steeped in Scottish-Norse-English history. I’m looking forward to wrapping up my medieval Scotland adventure and excited to see where the next inkling takes me…

A Hundred Breaths 
by Jean M. Grant

Social Media links:
Website  https://www.jeanmgrant.com/
Twitter  https://twitter.com/JeanGrant05
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jeanmgrantauthor/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16582543.Jean_M_Grant
Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jean-m-grant


Buy links:
(links are in the quick link hyperlink andthe long URL; use either)

Amazon  





Bio:
Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

Blurb:

Healing his heart…with her last breath.

1263, Scotland

Simon MacCoinneach’s vengeance runs deep. The blade is the only way to end the blood-thirsty Nordmen’s reign upon Scottish soil. His soul might be lost, but the mystical Healer he kidnaps from the isles could be the answer for his ailing mother…and his heart.

Isles-born Gwyn reluctantly agrees to a marriage alliance with this heathen Scot in return for the sanctuary of her younger brother from her abusive Norse father. Her brother’s condition is beyond the scope of her Ancient power, for larger healings steal breaths of life from her own body.

As Simon and Gwyn fight to outwit her madman father and a resentful Norse betrothed, Gwyn softens Simon’s heart with each merciful touch. Gwyn’s Seer sister foresees a bloody battle—and an end to the Nordmen—but Simon will also die. Will Gwyn save Simon on the battlefield even if it means losing her last breath?

Excerpt:
“I’m your wife, and still I am guarded?” 
Simon shrugged though she couldn’t see. He’d given up on excuses. “What must I do to prove I won’t flee? I signed your marriage contract. I said my vows.” Her voice broke on those words. 
Was she crying? He laid the tray of food on her table and approached. He didn’t touch her, as much as he wanted to link his arm within hers as they’d done during their walks. He reached inside his ganache and withdrew her small, simple dagger. Unadorned with jewels or carvings, it possessed a bone hilt and a blade worn from use. Likely from tree limbs, flowers, and household use. His smith had sharpened it and cleaned the hilt. 
“Here,” he said, placing it in her lap. Gildy had retrieved the sheath from Gwyn’s laundered gown. 
Gwyn stared at it, her fingertips dancing butterfly wings hovering over the hilt. After a moment, she drew her hand around it and pulled it from its leather sheath. She rose and whirled on him, the dagger pointed out before her, barely pressing into his chest. 
He didn’t retreat as he met her fiery, misty gaze. 
She made no move to remove the dagger’s tip. 
“A smidge to the center, Gwyn, and you’ll be square over my blackened heart.” He held her glower. The heat blazed in her entrancing blue eyes like the devil. He fought a smile.


Other book: 

A Hundred Kisses (book 2 in the trilogy), also available: Amazonand other online retailers.