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?

Buy Links:
Amazon US:

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!
Amazon Author Page:

Monday, August 20, 2018

Broad Strokes

My goals this week are simple, and extremely complicated.

Goal number one is getting The Princess off to college on Saturday. There are a ton of things that need to be done, despite this being her second year. I would have thought the list of things would get smaller, but so far, it hasn’t. I say “a ton” because I don’t actually know how many things are on the list. All I know is that it keeps growing. 

Normally, I live by my to-do list. Nothing happens that isn’t on my list, and I can guarantee that if it is on the list, I’ll do it. My life exists because of that list. But you know what else exists? Stress, and lots of it. 

The Princess successfully completed her first year of college. She managed to get to classes on time, get good grades, do whatever else she needed to do, and all without any major mishaps. Mistakes are expected, but nothing that she—and we—couldn’t easily recover from. 

So I decided to leave the to-do list to her. Sure, I have a few things I need her to make sure to complete before she leaves—like her camp laundry, which is endless and might actually be alive. But the rest is up to her. We are leaving at seven in the morning, with her in the car, and whatever ends up in the car with us. And if it gets left behind, well, then it will be put on my to-do list, and whenever I get to it, I get to it. And if she has to go a semester without a floor lamp, I’m confident she’ll survive—worst case, I’ll tell her, “Back in my day, we didn’t have floor lamps. We sat in the dark and were happy.” J

Goal number two is keeping Banana Girl safe. She just got her driver’s license and, um, she’s driving. Like on the road, with the rest of you. She’s actually good and if I weren’t her mother, I’d say I was completely comfortable driving on the same roads as her. But I am her mother, so I make her text. Often. Just not while she’s driving. 

I’m having her drive locally as much as possible before school starts, getting her used to texting every time that gear goes into “park” and practicing the useless Lamaze exercises that didn’t do diddly during labor, but might keep me upright as she pulls out of the driveway. 

Yeah, her to-do list for the rest of the summer is huge, with band, summer homework and college applications. But all of those things are up to her right now. For the moment, I’m focusing on her driving and getting her from point A to point B in one piece. She’s going to have to handle the rest of it.

And if I survive until next week, then maybe I’ll peek at my own massive to-do list. Or not. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Jean Grant on Audio

Audio book: A Hundred Kisses  -- new release (of audio book)
by Jean M. Grant
Twitter: @JeanGrant05 

Also available on iTunes. 
Amazon Paperback/e-book link:
Also available on The Wild Rose Press, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.
If you enjoyed A Hundred Kissesin audio, print, or e-book format, be on the lookout for its prequel, A Hundred Breaths, to be released in the upcoming months!
Jean is a scientist and a mom to two active sons. She currently resides in Massachusetts and draws from her interests in history, science, the outdoors, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women's fiction. She enjoys writing non-fiction articles for family-oriented travel magazines, and aspires to write children’s books while continuing to write novels. When she finally got to visit Scotland, it was nothing short of breathtaking. Jean enjoys working in her flower gardens, tackling the biggest mountains in New England with her husband, and playing with her sons, while daydreaming about the next hero and heroine to write about...
A bit about the audio book process…
I am an avid fan of listening to audio books. When I worked out of the home, they were my pleasant company on the commute. When we take long road trips, the lyrical voices sweep us away and help the hours pass (btw, the Harry Potterseries on audio – divine!). So, when I heard that my book’s publisher, The Wild Rose Press, added this opportunity, I jumped at it! After a few months and no bites from narrators, I took the next step: I researched several voice actors available with ACX, emailed them, and hoped for the best. If I learned anything in the past year of my first book’s release, it’s that the author must take initiative in marketing and promotion (and I am still learning and have a massive list of “to-do’s” to attack this fall for two more upcoming books). I was elated that Rosalind Ashford agreed to narrate the book. It was like Christmas each week for me when I received the audio book chapters to listen to and review. She was pleasant to work with and I hope you enjoy her work with A Hundred Kisses as much as I do! Happy reading, err, listening!
Two wedding nights. Two dead husbands.
Deirdre MacCoinneach wishes to understand her unusual ability to sense others’ lifeblood energies…and vows to discover if her gift killed the men she married. Her father’s search for a new and unsuspecting suitor for Deirdre becomes complicated when rumors of witchcraft abound.
Under the façade of a trader, Alasdair Montgomerie travels to Uist with pivotal information for a Claimant seeking the Scottish throne. A ruthless baron hunts him and a dark past haunts him, leaving little room for alliances with a Highland laird or his tempting daughter.
Awestruck when she realizes that her unlikely travel companion is the man from her visions, a man whose thickly veiled emotions are buried beneath his burning lifeblood, Deirdre wonders if he, too, will die in her bed if she follows her father’s orders. Amidst magic, superstition, and ghosts of the past, Alasdair and Deirdre find themselves falling together in a web of secrets and the curse of a hundred kisses…

AUDIO Excerpt: 

Print Excerpt:
She sensed no colors in the murky, lifeless water, and it was freeing. All breath escaped her. Muted visions passed before her eyes—her mother, her father, Gordon, and Cortland. Just a moment longer, she thought…
Suddenly, a burst of warm light invaded her thoughts as air filled her lungs. Red-hot hands burned her shoulders and ripped her from her icy grave. She breathed life into her body. She coughed, gagging on the change.
Muffled words yelled at her.
Oh, God, so hot. His fingers were like hot pokers. Her head pounded as she slowly returned to the present. Heat radiated from her rescuer. Somebody had pulled her from the water.
“Hush, lass. You nearly drowned.”
His voice was as soothing as a warm cup of goat’s milk on a winter’s day. A red-hot glow emanated from his body. Never before had she felt such a strong lifeblood, and it nearly burned her. She struggled in his arms to get free. She blinked, only seeing a blurry form before her. “Release me!”
She splashed and wriggled, and he did as told. She clambered to the shoreline. Numb and shaken, she began to dress. It wasn’t easy as she fumbled with slick fingers to put dry clothes over wet skin. She instantly regretted her naked swim. She pulled on her long-sleeved white chemise first.
She faced the forest, away from her rescuer. He quietly splashed to shore. His lifeblood burned into her back. He wasn’t far behind, but he stopped. She refused to look at him until she was fully clothed, not out of embarrassment of her nudity, but for what had just happened. He released a groan and mumbled under his breath about wet boots. His voice was not one of her father’s soldiers.
When she put the last garment on, her brown wool work kirtle, she squeezed out her sopping hair and swept her hands through the knotty mess. She fastened her belt and tied the lacings up the front of the kirtle. Blood returned to her fingertips, and she regained her composure. Belated awareness struck her, and she leaned down and searched through her bag for her dagger. She spun around.
She gasped as she saw the man sitting on the stone-covered shoreline, his wet boots off. Confusion and the hint of a scowl filled his strong-featured face. She staggered back, caught her heel on a stone, and fell, dropping the dagger. Dirt and pebbles stuck to her wet hands and feet, and she instinctively scrambled away from him.
His glower, iridescent dark blue eyes, and disheveled black hair were not unfamiliar. Staring at her was the man she had seen in her dream—it was the man from the wood.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Pucker Up & Blow

This summer has been filled with lots of…stuff, but in between all of that, my husband and I have also had a lot of fun laughing and spending time together while the kids are away. And of course, doing chores that somehow don’t get done during the rest of the year. 

When the kids are gone, we look for things to do together that are different, and one of the things he suggested was glass blowing. There’s a glass blowing school he passes on his way to and from work everyday and he thought it sounded interesting, so I checked it out. The school offered a variety of options, including the chance for a group to make glass objects. The price was reasonable and we found friends to join us—she was in favor because it was a craft, and he liked the idea of fire.

You know how when you’re little, adults make you think you’re doing something for yourself, but really you’re not? Well, that was kind of this experience. First, they gave us a demo of what we’d be doing. With everything at more than 2,000 degrees, I was suitably nervous about touching anything, even the tools I was allowed to touch. The studio was 20 degrees hotter than outside—luckily it was in the seventies and raining outside, so we were just sweating, rather than melting. After the demo, which looked easier than it actually was, of course, we were told to choose one of four items to make—a paperweight, a bowl, a vase or a flower. Two of us chose a paperweight, because of the cool glass design you created inside a sphere of glass, one chose a bowl and one a vase.

At that point, we took turns and along with our guide, we made our objects. Remember how I said when we were little the adults “helped” us? Well, this experience was similar. Our guide never fully left us alone, and that was probably a good thing. The tools were heavy, the glass was hot and none of us knew what we were doing. The men (I use that term loosely) in our group—my husband and my friend’s husband—enjoyed making wisecracks and obnoxious comments throughout. Based on the type of comments they made and we laughed at, there’s a halfway decent chance I can take the experience either as a tax write-off or as inspiration for a future book. Regardless, I’m pretty confident that other than to pick up our objects, we’re never allowed back.

But, we didn’t burn the place down, didn’t break anything or anyone, and I think what we made turned out halfway decent. We'll know in about a week. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Please Welcome Caryn McGill, AKA Kendra Greenwood

            Hi Jennifer, thanks for having me!

            My new book just released and I’ve been reflecting on how I wound up a romance writer. It certainly wasn’t on my bucket list. My background is in science, having taught AP biology and chemistry at a Long Island high school before moving into administration. The only writing I’d done was scientific and professional, the complete opposite of writing fiction. My first published novel was book one in a paranormal trilogy called The Wives of Lucifer, released in 2016 and written under my legal name. The story is about reincarnation—homage to my little brother who died at three, when I was five—and a result of my years spent as an astrologer. I know, it sounds like the complete opposite of being a scientist. Truthfully, scientists are just dreamers who take the next step and transform their dreams into reality. Dreams are also important in my writing and I often dream my endings.
            I’m a self-taught writer and spent years in workshops and at conferences to hone my skills and learn the business. It took nine years to secure my first publishing contract, which turned out to be primarily a romance publisher. I’d never considered my story a romance and had actually never even read a romance novel. After Fifty Shades of Greycame out my writer pals teased that someone should jump on that train since it seemed to be a hot trend. Jokingly, everyone decided that I would be the one to write it. I laughed it off but soon a story thread began to unwind and characters starting talking to me. I’m a die-hard pantser. I always start with characters and a nugget of a plot and then let the characters talk to me, mostly when I’m falling asleep or as I wake. When I’m in the heat of it they often wake me in the middle of the night to tell me something important. The result was UNSUB and I quickly found a publisher. To my utter shock it did surprising well and my editor convinced me to turn it into a series: The Steel and Desire Series and book two, UNBOUND, just released. I write this series under a pen name to protect my two sons who are mortified that I write sexy stuff, plus I wouldn’t want someone who reads my paranormal stories to read one of these by mistake. 
            So, I have a confession to make. I’ve become a terriblereader! I used to love to read but now I’m so critical about technique: story, plot, dialogue that my self-editor can barely get past the first chapter. My mentors trained me that the first page is vital, not only that, the first paragraph, first sentence…first word! Now, if that first page or chapter doesn’t grab me I’m loathe to keep reading. I sound like the younger generation who’s stereotyped as having a poor attention span. Guilty as charged, however I attribute it to my Aquarian nature, I get bored easily. I remember lamenting to my first astrology teacher that I had a habit of immersing myself in something, learning to do it expertly, then walking away: macramé, embroidery, wood sculpture, silver jewelry making, fusing glass. Why couldn’t I stick with something? Her response, “…because for an Aquarian the fun is in the discovery, the learning. Once you master it you move on to a new challenge.” Well, la-de-da…let’s hope this writing gig sticks around for a while! 

Author Bio
Kendra Greenwood has always been a storyteller. She often told stories to her kids at bedtime in lieu of reading to them. A serious daydreamer, she used to think it the complete opposite of her education and work in the sciences, but now realizes scientists are the ultimate daydreamers. Fantasy has always been an escape for Kendra…weaving a thrilling romantic tale around TV and film characters, her favorite way to fall asleep at night. Inspired by authors J.R. Ward, Cherise Sinclair and Sylvia Day, she decided to write her own series:Steel and Desire.  

Kendra grew up on the beaches of Long Island’s bucolic east end, but recently relocated to Virginia. When she’s not writing you can find her in the kitchen whipping up something scrumptious or in the studio painting, or fusing glass into decorative dishes.

            You’re not allowed to be a coward and be in love. You must choose one.
            Special Agent Laura Logan had a difficult childhood and that’s putting it mildly. Laura channeled her buried rage into her studies, earned a law degree and joined the FBI. As a member of the new human trafficking task force, Laura wants to impress and she wants to make the perps pay. 
            Detective Lieutenant Steve Moretti moonlights at a very exclusive adult club, his reward is a free membership along with other perks. His family is pressuring him to find a nice woman and settle down, but that bridge was burned by his ex. His new view: Marriage is betting half your stuff that you’ll love someone forever.
            A kidnapping shocks Steve’s town and the FBI is called in. Steve and Laura meet at the crime scene, sparks fly, and they work the case together. As passion ignites, their no-love commandment is tested. Can they overcome the heartbreak of betrayal and learn to love before it’s too late? Are they so afraid they refuse to love at all?

Publisher’s Note: This is book two in the Steel and Desire series, but reads as a standalone.

Buy Link: