Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Welcome Shirley Hailstock

I've known Shirley for years, ever since I first joined the New Jersey chapter of the Romance Writers of America. She and I are contributing to the same Ticket to True Love anthology, and she's visiting today to celebrate the release of her contribution, Running Wild in Reno.

I used to watch the Ray Bradbury show on television. I love his writing (The Martian Chronicles) and science fiction, but I don't write that. I write romance, books of the heart and books of my heart. Ray Bradbury's intro (voice over) said he'd go to this office and look around until he came upon some object that inspired he and he'd write about it.

That doesn't work for me.

My office is full of books, a desk, laptop and writing paraphernalia. I don't have replicas of hunky heros on the walls or statues of settings that I'd like to visit. It's as much as I can do to keep the clutter down.

My writing space is the smallest bedroom in the house set up as an office. It had large windows that provide light and inspiration. It's a sanctuary where ideas are crystalized and where the magic happens. At least I hope it's magic. I love that space because it's bright when I need it and softly lighted when I want that. I don't need it to be totally quiet to concentrate. In fact, I do better with noise. Not music. I know too many songs and I will sing if music playing.

My ideas come from all sorts of places, so I can't pinpoint anything in particular. Sometimes, I pull a story from my past, something my grandmother said or did, something I remember from my childhood or from any portion of my life (old boyfriends, learning to play baseball, a warm spring day that goes perfectly right or horribly wrong, etc).

For the book that releases on June 23rd, it's part of a series called ticket to True Love. Certain parameters had to be included: a ticket of some kind, reference to the city to True Springs, PA, and a contemporary romance. Specifically, the title Running Wild in Reno gave me the plot. I wanted to write about a woman who was wild and who was on the run. As I plotted the story, secrets emerged that only made the writing more fun and the story more interesting.

I hope you like it.

Sable Ballantine has been on the run for a year and she doesn't know why. Apparently in the wrong place at the wrong time, she's had to escape strangers bent on harming her. Taking the common name of Helen Ryan and finally feeling safe, she meets Officer Brett Emerson who may be her salvation or the ticket to her downfall.


The woman calling herself Helen Ryan bent over, her hands on her knees, her breath coming in short gasps as she sucked air in and out through her mouth. The hot desert sun beat down on her as if she was a speck of sand. Here she was herself, her real self, Sable Ballantine. She'd finished her run and needed to keep moving, keep walking to cool down. Not that the salt on her skin hadn't already dried. But for a moment, she stopped to rest. Taking in several more long breaths and forcing herself to let them out slowly, she stood up straight and started walking.
The heat was stifling, but she ran every day to keep her strength and stamina in top form. She never knew when those skills would be needed to save her life. It had happened twice before.
And she didn't know why.
All she knew was she had a bag of money that wasn't hers and she didn't know who it belonged to. Her suitcase had no clothes in it. No wallet, purse, credit cards or cell phone. The bag was full of cash. Ten and twenty dollar bills, all loose. No bands around them to indicate a bank name or a clue as to where the money came from. She only knew that when she drove away from her home in Chicago on her way to a job interview in Kansas, her suitcase had her own personal items inside it. But when she checked into the motel she spied along the route and opened the case, only the money stared back at her.
She never made that appointment. She didn't even go through the state of Kansas. Helen Ryan, although she wasn't Helen Ryan then, closed the case, checked out of the motel, and drove away. She kept driving until the fear she felt was outweighed by the need to sleep.
Checking her surrounding along the track of land where she ran each day, she slowly walked to her car. She had the feeling someone was watching her, but the space was open and she saw no one. She wanted to run, but in the past year, she'd learned to act as if nothing was wrong, as if everything was normal. At that she wanted to laugh. This was now her normal.
Nevertheless, she was going to have to find another place to jog. She'd developed a sixth sense for danger and this was only a small kernel, but she'd learned that it was the small changes that tripped people up.

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Author Bio: 

Shirley Hailstock began her writing life as a lover of reading. She likes nothing better than to find a quiet corner where she can get lost in a book, explore new worlds and visit places she never expected to see.  As an author, she can not only visit those places, but she can be the heroine of her own stories. The author of more than forty novels and novellas, Shirley has received numerous awards, including the Borders Bestselling Romance Award and Romantic Times Magazine's Career Achievement Award. Shirley's books have appeared on Blackboard, Essence Magazine,  and Library Journal Best Seller Lists. She is a past president of Romance Writers of America and will be delivering the Keynote Address at this year's annual conference in August.

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