Monday, July 26, 2021

I'm A Finalist!

I received some good news this weekend. My book, Whispers in Washington, is a finalist in the Published Maggie Award for Excellence. The Maggies are sponsored by the Georgia Romance Writers. The awards recognize the achievements of published authors of romantic fiction (there are also awards for unpublished authors). Books are ranked by librarians, booksellers, and other industry professionals. Winners receive a silver medallion and national recognition, and are announced at a conference in October.

Needless to say, I was excited. They even called me on the phone to let me know about my status.


I enter my books in lots of contests. Although I try to avoid the “popularity” ones—where you have to ask for votes from people you know—I enter those occasionally, too. There are many reasons why I enter contests. The popularity ones get me attention from my reader friends. The winners often receive free advertising, which is useful when I’m trying to promote my books.


The non-popularity ones, like the Maggie, help to get my books in front of industry professionals. If nothing else, I get editorial feedback that I can use to improve my craft. And if I somehow win, well, national recognition in the industry is nothing to sneeze at. 


Usually, I lose out to writer friends. Although it stings, I love seeing my friends win. And this community of romance writers is supportive, so we all love to cheer for each other.


This time around, with the Maggie, I’m up against one of my critique partners. She actually finaled with two books, so my chances of winning are even less. The funny thing is, this book was not seen by my critique partners. Due to the speed with which we critique each other’s works, and my deadlines, I was unable to submit my manuscript to them first. But I wrote and edited with all three of them on my shoulders, reminding me of the things they usually pick up in my work.


It must have worked. 


Regardless of the outcome, I’m buoyed by the fact that I’m a finalist. It’s a big achievement, and it gives me that little extra psychological nudge that I needed.


So, until October!

Monday, July 19, 2021


 This weekend, my husband and I ventured back into the “normal” world, but driving into New York City for The Friends Experience

Living only 45 minutes away, driving or taking the train in for the day was something we would do almost without thinking before the pandemic. But since then, we haven’t. Even now that things are better, we’ve stuck close to home, doing lots of outdoor activities—like hiking, hiking, and more hiking. 


But I happened to mention that I miss the city, and he went online and found this event and asked if I was interested. Of course, I agreed. After much discussion, we decided to drive, preferring our own car to public transportation for the moment. You know, baby steps. 


We had a great time, and I have to say, it was the perfect way to dip our toes back in the waters of normalcy. My husband and I are of the age that when Friends was on regularly, we could easily relate to the characters and their experiences. So seeing the sets and the clothes and the quotes was kind of like coming home to the familiar.


So too, was visiting NYC. There were fewer people, even though it was busy. Streets were narrower because restaurants had taken up space with outdoor seating areas. The Bus Only lanes were new. But the crazy cyclists were still there, as were the people who cross the streets around your cars. The dog walkers were there, too, and the tourists, although there were fewer of them. In other words, we were back, and the city was, too.


Nowhere was it clearer that everyone has adapted to Covid, however, than in the actual exhibit!


 Welcome to the new normal!


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Welcome, Linda Carroll-Bradd

The idea behind Sweet Inspiration came when some friends I’d known while living in San Antonio decided to create an anthology of stories set in their new home state, Arkansas. Multiple authors would write short stories featuring a different location within the state, and we hoped to sell the anthology to tourist places that had bookstores. Fired up about the idea, I flew to Little Rock, met with a couple friends, and we drove to the Ozark Folk Center in northern Arkansas. The folk center is set up with individual shops featuring silversmiths, quilters, weavers, blacksmiths, leather workers, candlemakers, etc. An area is also set aside for musical performances. The weekend we were there a folk music concert was held which included dulcimers. The town has a dulcimer making store.

My late mother-in-law was a weaver and my husband owns a dulcimer, both of which helped my familiarity with those aspects as I built my characters. All the pieces fell into place, and in our hotel room that night, we plotted our stories. Sadly, as often happens, the anthology fell apart, but I kept working on my story toward its eventual release.


Dependable Cadence Wills yearns for excitement. The owner of a yarn business, she is pulled in every direction by her demanding family. Haunting dulcimer notes draw her to a practice session where she spies an intriguing stranger. 

Musician Rafe Frasco is a rover, bouncing between musical competitions. Interest ignites at his first glance at a woman enthralled by his music, who he learns has a heart big enough to encompass everyone within her reach.

A fantastic opportunity for Rafe presents Cadence with a dilemma—is she strong enough to negotiate the business deal that will take him away…maybe forever?

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Unmarried and approaching thirty in a small town branded her as ready and willing to meet every unattached man who set foot inside the city limits. A sigh escaped. Like last week when Espe called Trent Sullivan over to their table at El Tres Amigos and then suddenly remembered an important errand, leaving them together. What Espe hadn’t known was Cadence and Trent already had been set up on blind dates—twice—by other well-meaning friends.

Nothing had clicked on those occasions either. Cadence craved someone with a mysterious past like in her beloved romantic suspense novels. A dark, shadowy figure who knew how to excite a woman with a molten look or a lingering touch. A man who fought to hide his pain and almost succeeded. Not someone like Trent—a guy whose high-school accomplishments she could probably recite.

Sweet plaintive notes of a stringed instrument floated on the breeze. Cadence stopped, straining to recognize the tune. A person didn’t grow up surrounded by folk music without knowing just about every ballad that could be plucked.

But this one eluded her. The twanging strings cried with a soulful sadness that grabbed her by the throat. Her thoughts were washed in loneliness, and she turned toward the sound, past the Heritage Herb Garden. A part of Cadence that couldn’t resist helping others had to see who was expressing such need.

She lifted the hem of her long skirt and hurried toward the haunting sound, as if the notes pulled her feet along the path. The compulsion to know who played added speed to her steps. Abreast of the groundhog pottery kiln, she slowed and peered toward the outdoor stage.

On the platform, several musicians were gathered—some unpacking instruments, others adjusting microphones. Off to one side, a dark-haired man sat in a straight-backed chair, one foot braced on a scratched case. He leaned forward and strummed a dulcimer, the light wood instrument cradled on denim-covered thighs.

Cadence stood a dozen feet away and studied the talented player. His too-long hair was tied back, his shoulders were broad inside his western-cut shirt, and his legs were long and lean. Scuffed boots, faded jeans and a worn Harley-Davidson tee-shirt composed his attire. Definitely more attractive than her own outfit. Even from this distance, she spotted a posture that meant the man had an attitude…or was mysterious. A thrill ran over her skin.

Who was this guy? He’d definitely swagger when he walked. Yummy. At the thought, she stepped closer, wanting nothing between her and the performance.

Long fingers picked the strings in a heated crescendo—note on teasing note, twang on shivery twang, strum on driving strum. He ended the song with a flourish, right hand arcing upward as the last note hung on the early morning air.

How did he know exactly how she felt on nights when everyone in Mountain View either had a date or was home curled next to a spouse? The isolation of being solo at the drive-in or enduring the knowing smile of a sympathetic waitress. His song wrapped all those feelings tight around her heart and squeezed. She inhaled, and the backs of her eyes stung.

Hadn’t she learned her lesson about musicians from the way Dale deserted her when his band got the chance to go on the road? Three years running, and he hadn’t yet steered the tour bus through his hometown.

The stranger laid a hand over the strings, rolled his shoulders, and lifted his head. Piercing brown eyes scanned the area, surveying the other musicians, and his gaze locked with hers. For a suspended moment, his gaze roved along her length, widened, and then returned to her face.

Under his scrutiny, she shifted her feet and tugged at the sides of her skirt. Her period costume didn’t exactly show off her figure to its best. Not that the fact should matter, but she couldn’t look away and chose to ignore the warning bells ringing in her head.



As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.

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Monday, July 5, 2021

Please Help

 If you’ve read my blogs, you know I rarely ask for help. Well, today, I’m asking.


The toughest part of being an author is getting discovered. Marketing is hard. What works for one book, doesn’t work for the next. What works for me, doesn’t work for someone else. Books I completely leave alone sell lots, books I market do nothing. And then everything changes. 


But the one thing that helps, no matter what else happens, is a book review. I’m not talking about a New York Times-style one, although I’d probably sell my kids if I could get one. I’m talking about reader reviews. And before you stop reading, let me explain.


Reviews are simple. “This was a memorable book.” “My favorite part was when character X did Y.” “It was okay, but I wasn’t thrilled with Z.” One sentence, but you’d be surprised by how much that one sentence helps an author. 


The more reviews on Amazon, the more Amazon helps the author—for FREE! Come on, we all want to help Jeff Bezos spend his money, right?


It doesn’t even have to be a sentence. It can be a star rating. Those count. 


The magic Amazon number appears to be 50. When a book hits 50 reviews, the algorithms kick in, and Amazon starts promoting my book for me, which would be a huge help.


So, this is what I’m asking of you. Have you read Addicted to Love? It is the first book in my Serendipity Series. I know a lot of people have read it based on my sales numbers. But there are only twelve reviews on Amazon. If you’ve read it, would you consider leaving a review? Here is the link you click:

Then click on the "12 ratings" next to the stars and on the left is a button "write a customer review."


It’s not nearly as scary as it seems, and if you leave a review, let me know and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Seriously. That’s how important reviews are. You can let me know in the comments on this blog and I’ll be announcing the winner on my Facebook author page on July 16.


I hope you’ll consider doing this. It would really help. Thank you!