A Pen Pal Welcome to Author, Jennifer Lowery, by Mae Clair

bigstock-Stacks-of-old-letters-on-woode-43415203Today, I’m pleased to welcome Jennifer Lowery to my blog. Jennifer is one of my sister authors at Lyrical Press and has dropped by to tell us about her latest release, MURPHY’S LAW. So, sit back, grab your beverage of choice and enjoy as Jennifer takes control of my “pen” for the day!

~ooOOoo~

Hi Mae, and all you fabulous readers out there *waves* Thank you so much for having me today! My contemporary romance, Murphy’s Law, released last month so I’m very excited to be here! Thank you so much for sharing it with me!! 

In honor of my release I am giving away a $5.00 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter so please leave me a comment with your EMAIL to be entered to win!!

When writing I think authors get into a zone. We forget everything around us when our muse is talking as our fingers fly over the keyboard and we rush to get those words out of our head. We block everything we have to do that day and week, sometimes even forget to take a bathroom break for fear of losing momentum.

This is a good thing, but can also lead to mistakes like misspelled words, grammar mishaps, things like that. Easily fixed, of course, but sometimes we writers make little blunders  that make you wonder just what you were thinking when you typed that! Was it a Freudian slip? An honest slip of your fingers on the keys?

Well, I’m here to share one of my bloopers with you during the writing of Murphy’s Law. I call it a blooper because it makes me laugh every time I read it. I hope you get a chuckle out of it too :)

Here is the correct sentence:

He had met Al, the owner, when he’d needed a winch for his SUV and knew he would use discretion.

Here is the sentence as I originally wrote it:

He had met Al, the owner, when he’d needed a wench for his SUV and knew he would use discretion.

Now, mind you, this manuscript got all the way to my editor before anyone caught the blooper! We’re talking six revisions myself! And I never saw it! And could the sentence be more perfect for this blunder, lol. Oh my gosh! What was I thinking!

So there you have it. Not sure what on earth I was thinking when I typed that or how I missed it in revisions, but there it is for you to chuckle over. I hope you enjoyed my blooper! And don’t worry, my fabulous editor at Lyrical caught it and we got quite a laugh out of it J Murphy won’t be picking up any wenches for his SUV!

Thank you for having me today, Mae !! I just want to send out a big THANK YOU to all my readers out there! Without you I wouldn’t be here. My wish is to one day meet each and every one of you so I can personally thank you for your generosity and support! 

All my best, 
Jennifer

~ooOOoo~

Murphy’s Law
Contemporary Romance 

Blurb:
Tag: Nowhere to go. No place to hide.

Home is the last place Jon Murphy can go. After being held captive in Tazbekistan, he returns to the States only to find he can’t face his mom and sisters with what he did while he was a prisoner, so he retreats to the mountains.

Widow Sara Sheldon has made a lifetime of mistakes and is now running scared from her husband’s powerful family, who are determined to take her daughter away from her. When her little girl goes missing in the Rockies, Sara enlists the only help she can find: a gruff recluse with tracking skills to admire and a body to covet.

A storm strands Sara and her daughter at Murphy’s cabin, leaving her no choice but to hope her in-laws don’t catch up while she plans where to run next. Murphy resents the invasion of his privacy, but can’t seem to keep his mind–or his hands–off Sara. How can she stand to look at him, with all his scars? He’s not nearly as honorable as she might think…only enough to make sure she’s safe, and then he’ll go back to being alone, the way he should be.

CONTENT WARNING: Sexual content
A Lyrical Press Contemporary Romance

MurphysLaw coverExcerpt:
Murphy sat at the kitchen table, half in the shadows created by the soft light glowing above the stove, hair tousled from sleep. Naked to the waist. A bottle of amber liquid sat in front of him, an empty glass in his hand. Her gaze landed on his muscled shoulders and trailed across his tanned chest. So much for getting him out of her mind. Now she had the real thing to dream about. Looking at the dark hairs that veed down his chest and disappeared behind the table, she decided he’d been right. He was a dangerous man.

She tore her gaze away from temptation and looked at the granite lines of his face. Beneath the hardness of his expression, something haunting lingered. Drawn, she circled the table to the opposite end.

Murphy met her eyes with coldness that should have sent her running for the safety of her room, but she remained standing in place. He wanted to chase her away. This time she wasn’t running.

“Mind if I join you?” She grabbed a glass and from the cupboard and reached over his shoulder for the bottle.

His hand snaked out and wrapped around hers, preventing her from pouring a drink.

“I mind,” he growled.

“Well, get over it. I need a drink.”

Scowling, he let go of her hand and allowed her to pour a glass for herself. She refilled his glass next, set the bottle on the table, moved to the chair beside him and sat, lifting her glass.

“Cheers.” She brought the glass to her lips. His gaze as she drained the glass made her fight the urge to cough as the fiery liquid burned its way down her throat. Seconds later she felt the familiar warming sensation as it numbed her insides. Her eyes filled with tears. She blinked them away and reached for the bottle.

Murphy held it away from her. “What are you doing?”

“Having a drink. I’m not in the mood for warm milk tonight.”

His eyes darkened and narrowed. “You don’t strike me as the drinking type.”

She wasn’t, but tonight it sounded good. Maybe it would soothe away her problems and make her forget how screwed-up her life was. Talking about Kent earlier had brought back painful memories. She didn’t want to feel that misery anymore.

“Maybe you don’t know my type,” she said.

He studied her closely for a moment before rubbing a hand over his face. “Go back to bed, Sara. Sleep it off.”

“I don’t want to sleep it off. I’m tired of thinking about it.”

Maybe it was the whisky, or his naked chest, or the part of her that had been dormant for six years coming back to life. More than anything she wanted to discover it with Murphy, her strong, scarred hero.

She rose to her feet. He watched warily as she stepped in front of him and positioned herself between him and the table. He leaned back in his chair and sent her a thunderous look.

“You and I are alike in many ways, Murphy,” she said softly. “We’ve both lost pieces of ourselves we can’t ever get back and it has forced us into a life of loneliness and solitude. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being alone.”

He pinned her with a hard glare. “I’m not what you want. Go back to your room before I do something we’ll both regret in the morning.”

His harshly spoken words sent little electrical shocks through her body.

“I’m tired of people telling me what I want.”

Jennifer Lowery Author picAuthor Bio:
Jennifer Lowery grew up reading romance novels in the back of her math book and on the bus to school, and never wanted to be anything but a writer.  Her summers were spent sitting at the kitchen table with her sisters spinning tales of romance and intrigue and always with a tall glass of ice tea at their side. 

Today, Jennifer is living that dream and she couldn’t be happier to share her passion with her readers.  She loves everything there is about romance.  Her stories feature alpha heroes who meet their match with strong, independent heroines.  She believes that happily ever after is only the beginning of her stories. And the road to that happy ending is paved with action, adventure, and romance. As her characters find out when they face danger, overcome fears, and are forced to look deep within themselves to discover love.  

Jennifer lives in Michigan with her husband and two children.  When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading and spending time with her family. 

Find Jennifer at the following haunts:

Author Website   Facebook   Twitter   Romance Recipes

Buy Murphy’s Law:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Lyrical Press
iTunes

 

Book Spotlight: Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key by Mark Knight

I love reading in multiple genres. Right now I’m engrossed in book three of a fantasy trilogy. Prior to that I was mired in romance – – everything from contemporary to paranormal. I also love reading thrillers, mysteries, YA novels and even horror. That’s why when I heard about Mark Knight’s new release, I had to take part in promoting it!

Title: Blood Family: Quest for the Vampire Key
Author: Mark Knight
Genre: Dark Paranormal
Publisher: Amazon
Illustrator: David M. Rabbitte 
Release Date: April 7, 2013

bloodfamily-fullsize

BLURB:
Until the age of seventeen, Daniel Dark had no idea of his true origins. Something was ulcerating deep inside him, waiting to claw its way free. Pastor Nathan Dark and his wife, Annie, had adopted him and brought him up as their own. But Daniel always felt that there was a secret they feared tell him…

Everything changes the day a mysterious package arrives at his home. It contains blood – human blood. Daniel’s vampire half awakens and takes its first step out of the shadows. The once lazy, goalless youth transforms into sharp-sensed killer. Now, there is no turning back.

Many horrors await Daniel, for he not only can detect but also attract the living dead…

Daniel Dark will unlock the sinister netherworld where helpless humans are kept and bred for bloodletting, and where he will have to face the unutterable evil.

EXCERPT:
Daniel loved Sunday mornings. The folks had gone to Sunday Service of course, leaving Daniel with the entire house to himself.

Mom and Dad had given up trying to keep their son going to church. He hated the place, and made no bones about it. Considering all that his Dad had put him through in that building – the chanting, the laying on of hands, the constricting straps – they really couldn’t protest too much. So, they went to the church and Nathan gave his sermon and Annie helped with the communion, while Daniel sat in the living room at home blitzing out on a slew of Jackie Chan DVDs and cramming down junk food. Bliss.

After the Sunday roast (which even now was sizzling in its own juices in the oven, sending mouth-watering aromas into the living room) Daniel would have a catnap in his room, and then would get ready for an evening out with his cronies. He still hadn’t phoned his girl to see if she wanted to come. Maybe I should just hang loose for a while, he pondered. Daelin can call me for a change.

Yeah, like that would happen.

Impatience would win. Daniel would make the call.

The doorbell rang. Hoisting himself up from the couch, he ambled over to the front door, surprised that there was a caller on a Sunday morning.

Shit, he thought, I’m just in boxers! He shrugged inwardly. Whatever. They’ll have to take me as I am.

He got a fleeting glimpse of the caller through the slim stained glass window that bisected the door. If he had looked a few seconds longer he might have thought twice about opening up at all – but he’d already turned the handle and was swinging the door wide open.

What stood there before him was a courier holding a parcel. Then – no courier, just the parcel on the doorstep.

He’d just imagined the courier.

Just…imagined…?

The parcel was not large, perhaps the length of a loaf of bread, and wrapped in plain brown paper, tied off with string. He picked it up.

Oddly, there was no return address. No postmark. The handwriting of his name and address looked ordinary enough, however. Taking one last look left and right to see if he could see who had left it, he took the mysterious package inside and closed the door against the cold.

The package, by strange contrast, was warm. It was making his palms tingle, as though thousands of miniscule, electrified worms were eating their way out of the package and into his skin. It’s a bomb, he thought, only ninety-seven percent seriously. A bomb left by that creepy old pastor. Well, if it is, I’ll come back and haunt the fuck out of him.

He could have opened it right there but instead took it up the stairs into his room, closing the door after him. Usually, this is what he would do if his parents were home and he wanted to be alone (which was most of the time). Something about this package was telling him that it was not just specifically but uniquely for him, and where better to view its contents than that most sacred of realms – his bedroom.

Standing in the center of the room amid the debris of corn snacks, car mags, and yesterday’s clothes, Daniel allowed himself a long moment to wonder just who could have sent him this thing. It was nowhere near his birthday. His relatives were not about to send him a gift without a reason. Could it be Daelin? Nope – wasn’t her style. She had the role of gift-getter down pat, and Daniel could see no reason why that would have changed.

For a long moment he stared at the package. Feeling a chill, he quickly pulled on a tee shirt and jeans. He took a deep breath. Ok – I’m going for it.

The brown paper tore easily. The parcel wasn’t crumpled at all – in fact, it barely seemed that it had even been handled. Still there was that strange warmth, that weird prickling…

Finally, the last shred of paper fell to the floor. What Daniel Dark held in his hands immediately induced strange sensations. Wonder. Confusion. Dread.  It was a glass sphere, like a crystal ball. Black-red in color. Upon its surface was an embossed symbol, a kind of a trident.

For glass, it was remarkably warm. It was then he realized that the orb was not made of red glass; the redness was coming from what it encased within. His hands were tingling even more than before. There was a hissing sound…

The heat from his hands was eating into the material of the sphere. Daniel watched, open mouthed, as the outlines of each of his hands sunk slowly into the glass as though melting their way through it. An electrified glow traced his fingers as the orb continued to distort, until…

Detonation.

mark-portrait-mausoleum-sept-2010About the Author:
Mark Knight grew up in Massachusetts, USA. Settling in the UK, Mark continued to write novels of differing genres, including horror and television scripts. Mark has scripted two horror scripts for Hollywood’s Little Slices of Death production company and one for Illusion Studios. He also won several short story competitions, and has had his work featured in published anthologies. Mark concentrates now on Young Adult urban fantasy novels.

www.markknightbooks.com 
www.bloodfamily.co.uk 
@markknightbooks (Twitter)
www.amazon.com/author/markknight

 

Cover Reveal: Spirit of the Revoluiton by Debbie Peterson

If you have a fondness for paranormal romances, ghosts and/or history, you have to check out this book! I’m highly delighted to splash my friend, Debbie Peterson’s, latest release all over my blog :D

Title: SPIRIT OF THE REVOLUTION
Author: Debbie Peterson
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: May 31, 2013

SpiritOfTheRevolution_w5861_680BLURB
Only divine intervention could have guided Jolena Leigh Michaelsson to the doorstep of a ramshackle manor in Pennsylvania, bringing her face-to-face with the man she has waited her whole life to find. There is just one problem. Mathias McGregor died two centuries ago…

Mathias, Revolutionary War ranger and spy, battles his conscience and his heart when he finds himself falling for the beautiful violinist invading his home. Jolena is mortal and deserves far more than what he as a spirit can offer her.

When Jolena’s family motto leads them to unearth a valuable coded message—the very message Mathias died trying to deliver to General Washington—Jolena vows to unravel the mystery surrounding the cryptic document. But someone else wants the message, and he’ll stop at nothing to get it, not even murder.

Divine intervention brought them together—will it also allow them to find forever?

~ooOOoo~

The Wild Rose Press has announced a limited time early release of SPIRIT OF THE REVOLUTION on Kindle Select. If you have a Kindle, there’s no need to wait until May 31st to enjoy the story of Mathias and Jolena. You can purchase your copy today on Amazon!

photoDPAUTHOR BIO
Debbie has always had a soft spot for fairy tales, the joy of falling in love, and happily ever after endings. Stories of love and make believe filled her head for as long as she can remember. However, it was her beloved husband who encouraged, cajoled and inspired her to take up a pen and write some of them down. Her journey to published author could fill quite a few pages, but in June of 2010, she submitted her debut novel, “Spirit of the Rebellion” to her wonderful, patient, editor at The Wild Rose Press. A few short months after Rebellion’s release, her second novel, “Shadow of the Witte Wieven” was published through InkSpell Publishing. Her third novel, “Spirit of the Revolution” will be released in 2013, through The Wild Rose Press.

When she is not busy conjuring her latest novel, Debbie spends time with the members of her very large family. She also pursues her interests in family history, mythology, and all things ancient and historic.

You can find Debbie at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of SPIRIT OF THE REVOLUTION during it’s limited early release on Amazon

Add SPIRIT OF THE REVOLUTION to your Goodreads TBR list

The Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, by Mae Clair

wonderful-team-memberIt’s blog award time, thanks to my wonderful friend and fellow blogger, Sheri de Grom!

Sheri recently honored me with the Wonderful Team Membership Reader Award. If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ve no doubt heard me mention Sheri before. We ventured into the blogosphere about the same time and quickly became  friends and supporters of each other.

Sheri blogs about women’s fiction and government and medical issues, in addition to working on what is certain to be a compelling novel, NOT THE MAN I MARRIED.  She’s super friendly and a great supporter of other bloggers so check her out corner of the world here, and linger a while under her bridge.

The Wonderful Team Membership Reader Award was one I was not previously familiar with, but it definitely deserves a round of fanfare. The title says it all. As bloggers, we rely on those who support our efforts with each post, taking their time to comment on the musings we toss into the virtual universe. I am so grateful for the friends I have made through blogging, and really do appreciate everyone who visits and comments on From the Pen of Mae Clair.

So to all my fantastic Pen Pals—I am grateful to each of you and wish to acknowledge you with this post. I am happy to nominate the following for the Wonderful Team Membership Reader Award:

L. J. Kentowski
Donna Cummings
Emma Meade
Jessi Gage
Cd Brennan
Calisa Rhose
Stanalei Fletcher
Debbie Peterson
Joanne Wadsworth
Laura Lee Nutt
Venice Kennedy
Susan Koenig

And, of course, a huge thanks to Sheri de Grom.

There are many other friends out there who support me through Twitter, Facebook, blogging and reviews, and I thank you all. This list is but a few. I am truly grateful for your friendship and support. You guys rock! :D

Welcome Guest Blogger Alana Lorens

Today, I’m turning my pen over to Alana Lorens who has a fun guest post to share and an excerpt from her contemporary romance,  BY ANY OTHER NAME. Welcome, Alana!

~ooOOoo ~

We’re not in high school any more—thank heaven!

High School Football Players and CheerleadersIt’s that time of the high school year when it’s winding down, and people wax nostalgic about “the good old days,” awards banquets, prom, graduation, all those milestones in the passage into adulthood. Summer comes along, home to so many high school reunions. Have you attended any of yours?

High school was a sort of hell for so many of us, unless we were the popular ones, and that was years ago. I imagine the current atmosphere with the immediacy of social media added to display everyones peccadilloes (and sometimes a lot more!) to the world make it even harder.

But high school ends—huge sigh of relief—and life goes on. What you do with it afterward, that’s what really counts in the scheme of things.

Seems to me that the reunion season can be pretty frightening for the former top-of-the-world types, the prom queens, football quarterbacks and so on, especially as the years pass. While they may have ruled the school, as they say, they may not have continued on that golden path into adult life. Without that strict social strata high school inevitably generates, perhaps they slip from those upper tiers down into “normal” life. Or a financial setback for the family can make the whole dynasty take a hit.

Those who travel around the middle layer, not particularly remarkable but yet not labeled as one of the “geeks and freaks,”  they can blend in comfortably and enjoy their anonymity.

Those who weren’t so popular, though, the ones who people ignored for the most part, they can sometimes surprise the class with unexpected accomplishments. Maybe high school bored them and held them back—not till they hit the real world did they find something that really inspired them, or they learned in ways that didn’t teach to the state assessment test. For me, these are often the most interesting returnees at reunions.

What do you think? What was the most surprising revelation of a reunion you attended?

~ooOOoo~

ByAnyOtherNameCoveraArtBY ANY OTHER NAME

BLURB
Up-and-coming mommyblogger and single mom Marisol Herrera Slade returns to her old hometown in western Pennsylvania for her 20th high school reunion, reluctant and yet compelled to see her high school sweetheart, Russell Asher, who dumped her for the homecoming queen.

Russell’s marriage to the golden girl, however, ended in a nasty divorce, and he has been systematically excluded from his sons’ lives. In his Internet wanderings, he’s found feminist blogger Jerrika Jones, who glorifies single motherhood, essentially putting a stamp of approval on what’s happened to him. He’s vowed to take this woman down if they ever should meet.

What he doesn’t know, when he thinks to rekindle what he had with Marisol, is that Marisol and Jerrika are one and the same. When he discovers the truth, will his drive for revenge derail any chance they have to reunite? Or will they find they have more in common than they ever expected?

EXCERPT
“Russell Asher? Holy smokes, you haven’t hardly changed at all!” The man looked Russell up and down, then greeted Russell’s companions, James Thompson and Stuart Fry, adding, “Don’t you recognize me?”

Russell had to confess he didn’t. He debated suggesting the man was the high school janitor, but held his tongue.

“It’s me, Marty Drogan! From the basketball team. Man, are you blind?”

Astounded that one of his teammates could look like a sixty-year old guy, Russell set down his beer and offered his hand. “It’s been a long time, man. How you doing?” he asked, though he wasn’t really sure he wanted to know.

“Can’t complain, can’t complain.” Drogan reached into his worn suit pocket and slapped a business card into Russell’s outstretched hand. “Been in sales fifteen years. Working my way up to V.P. any day now.” A big cheesy grin. “Me and Carrie have a big house out on Lake Drive.”

“’Not my Cherry’ Carrie? How’s she doing?”

One of the guys Russell was playing with shook his head violently behind Drogan’s shoulder and made a face.

“Carrie’s the sweetest little thing ever, that good little woman who makes my day,” Drogan said. “She just sent me to pick up some pizza. We’ll see you at the reunion, right?”

“Ah…sure. Sure you will.”

Drogan bustled off, all puffed up with pride. Russell turned to James, who’d made the face. “What was that about?”

“Man, that Carrie put on about a ton with those kids of hers. No one in that house is starving, if you get my drift.”

“Too bad. She was pretty cute back in the day.”

“Coulda hit that.”

“As if.”

“Maybe I could.”

Russell let his thoughts wander along memory lane to the old days, when he, Marty, James and the others scored baskets on the gym floor, then scored more private points after the game with the cheerleaders. James had dated Cherise Lang, but it hadn’t lasted long. Marty and Carrie had hooked up early; Tiffy had come around a little later.

Maybe he should have taken that as a hint. An omen. Leave the girl alone and find someone less ostentatious and more solid… Other girls were interested in him. He’d been pretty steady with Marisol Herrera for the summer after junior year, till the basketball season had started in the fall of senior year. He’d just blown her off for a shot at the stars.

~ooOOoo~

This ebook is available at Amazon.com, or at Desert Breeze Publishing.

AUTHOR BIO:
Alana Lorens (aka Barbara Mountjoy) has been a published writer for over 35 years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at the South Dade News Leader in Homestead, Florida. Her list of publications includes the non-fiction book 101 Little Instructions for Surviving Your Divorce, published by Impact Publishers in 1999, stories in A Cup of Comfort for Divorced Women, in December 2008, and …A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Parents, in June 2009. Her Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series (as Lyndi Alexander) is available from Dragonfly Publishing; THE ELF QUEEN, THE ELF CHILD, THE ELF MAGE and in 2013, THE ELF GUARDIAN.

Alana’s books include SECRETS IN THE SAND, and CONVICTION OF THE HEART (first book in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer series), in the Crimson Rose line, and THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, a short contemporary from The Wild Rose Press. She is also the author of a story in the book SIDEKICKS! from Alliteration Ink, and SECOND CHANCES, the second book in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series from Zumaya Publications.

Alana also takes care of a husband and a bunch of kids and blogs on a variety of subjects, including autism, science fiction and life at Awalkabout.

Look for Alan a Lorens at the following haunts:
Website: http://alanalorens.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlanaLorens?ref=hl

Wizards with Words: Welcoming Stanalei Fletcher

bigstock-magic-book-9719930Today on Wizards with Words, I’m happy to have Stanalei Fletcher as a guest.

Stanalei and I hit the writing circuit and the world of social media about the same time, fumbling through the learning curve together. She was one of the first friends I made online and has been a wonderful supporter since. I’m delighted to have her as a guest on my blog sharing about not one, but two, of her releases! So grab a cuppa, sit back and please welcome this wonderful writer!

~ooOOoo~

Stanalei, you have two releases out right now, IMPERFECT DREAM-PERFECT REALITY and LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES TWICE. The first is a short fantasy and the second a full-length novel. Tell us a bit about IMPERFECT DREAM-PERFECT REALITY first.

ImperfectDream_final-SmallIMPERFECT DREAM, was exactly that—a dream. I woke up one morning after having a very lucid, very real dream and wondered, what if? I wrote the short story in about 3 hours. Later, I polished it and sent it to The Wild Rose Press to publish. Ebooks weren’t selling like they do today and it wasn’t distributed at all through Amazon. A couple years later, I got my rights back. Recently, I decided to polish it a bit more and re-title it, (it was originally titled The Twilight – and was published long before the Twilight series of vampires). I self-published it with the help of Wildflowers Books. I’m pleased with how well the timing worked in conjunction with LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES TWICE.

And now, a bit about LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES TWICE. Most of my blog followers know I love time travel romance. I really enjoyed reading LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES TWICE. You did such an extraordinary job immersing me in the lives and times of the people who lived in the past. Was White Rock, Idaho an actual town, or did you create it from scratch? If the latter, what was your inspiration?

Thank you for that great compliment, Mae. I think every author hopes they’ll immerse the reader in their fictional world. I very much appreciate you sharing that with me.

White Rock, Idaho is a fictional town. It’s a composite of what things I’ve learned about most old mining towns in Idaho. I had the town of White Rock, the mill, and the aspen grove inside my head for a couple years before I started writing. An opportunity came to visit the area where I wanted the story to take place. I found two ghost towns near each other along the Yankee Fork river between Stanley and Challis, Idaho. I was even fortunate enough to meet the owner of one of the ghost towns when my husband and I toured an old dredge that had mined the Yankee Fork in the 1950s. Upon visiting the second ghost town, I discovered my White Rock, the mill and the aspen grove—exactly as I had envisioned. From that moment on, the ghost town of White Rock came to life for me. For the purpose of the story, my fictional town was much closer to Boise than the real one.

What an awesome history for your setting! I also really enjoyed the disparity between your hero and heroine.  Annie Crawford is concerned about her family’s heritage and retaining the integrity of the past. Developer, Luke Maxwell, is focused on progress. At least when the story starts. I liked seeing their relationship grow in a realistic way. Without giving too much of the story away, do you have a favorite scene between them?

My favorite scene between Annie and Luke is when he tries to convince her she’s really time-traveled to 1891. Annie asks about the keys to her car and Luke replies: “Damn it, Annie, there are no keys! There is no car. For all I know, they haven’t invented gasoline yet.”

LOL! I loved that! LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES TWICE had some really inspired twists and turns, especially at the end. I remember how difficult it was to work out the time loop properties when writing WEATHERING ROCK. Sometimes, just thinking about it gave me a headache. What did you find the greatest challenge of writing a time travel story?

I have to say, Mae, that you handled the time-travel properties in WEATHERING ROCK in an amazing way. I’ll try not to give too much away, but your Rick character twist was so well done!

For me, just finding the time-travel mechanism was the challenge.  Believe or not, the medallions were more of an afterthought.  When I came across an article in TIME magazine, I was totally enthralled with the idea of two minds sharing the past, present and future. I knew I’d found my time-travel trigger point.

Thanks for that wonderful compliment about WEATHERING ROCK. I was hoping what I did with Rick would come as a surprise for my readers. And now, I always have to ask this question of time travel authors:  Is there anything from the past (a custom, social attitude, way of doing something, etc.) that you wish still existed today?

Because writing LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES TWICE was somewhat of an anomaly for me, I don’t really consider myself a time-travel author. That said, I do wish mankind had the innocence and integrity that we had before the blast of media, reality shows and the over abundance of technology.

I heartily agree with that! If only…

When it comes to writing, do you develop characters before plot or vice versa?

Usually a plot will arrive first, quickly followed by the character’s occupation or goal and thus a character is born. I’m extremely left brained and a stickler for plot logic. So in my outlines, I need to lay out the plot or the characters won’t get very far.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to write?

It seems like my best ideas hit in the morning as I’m waking up or in the shower. Unfortunately, the day job prohibits my ability to rush over to my computer and open my manuscript. Notepads abound at my house, (and everywhere else), and I try to make the most of my writing time I get when I get it.

As a writer, I dabble in a few genres but, as a reader, my taste is all over the board. Do you read mostly in your chosen genre or enjoy various types? Please share a few of your favorite books and authors.

Like you, Mae, my taste is all over.  I’ve never really delved into the “classics”, but cut my teeth on Grimm’s Fairy Tales and comic books. Alistair MacLean is the reason I started writing. My favorite book of his is H.M.S. Ulysses. When it comes to romance, I started out reading Barbara Cartland, Betty Neels, Janet Daily and Margaret Way. I’m a huge Harlequin fan and my go-to author is RaeAnne Thayne. I have every one of Tom Clancy’s books and many of his spin off series. James Rollins is in there too. But the best kept secret in published techo-thrillers has to be Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens—a husband and wife team who hit it big writing Star Trek books, but I absolutely love their mainstream thrillers.

I’m going to have to check them out. I love thrillers. What are you reading right now?

To see my current reading list, check out my page on Goodreads.  As of this writing, I’m reading Threat Vector, by Tom Clancy; McLain’s Law, by Kylie Brant; Finding Your Voice by Les Edgerton; Internal Affairs, by Alana Matthews; Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of the Men and Women of World War II’s OSS, by Patrick K. O’Donnell. And do I keep them all straight? Yes. But don’t ask me how, because I’ve never been able to figure that out.

Amazing! I can only handle one read at a time. And now for some quick question/answers:

Favorite thing to do when you’re not writing or reading:  Watch either the NFL or NBA. I’m a huge Utah Jazz fan…somewhere along the line I became my mother in that regard. But mostly I enjoy spending time with my best friend—my husband. Whatever we do together makes the day perfect.

Favorite color: Green, although if you looked in my closet, you’d think it was gray, white or black.

Favorite TV show: It’s a tie, Stargate: SG-1 and Firefly.  I own the entire DVD series of both.

Favorite season: Fall

Chocolate or vanilla: Yes… vanilla covered in chocolate.

Causal or dressy: Causal

Marshmallow or peanut butter: Peanut butter

Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy-godmother, all expenses paid: A visit to Washington D.C. I’ve never been and would love to spend a month in the museums, cemeteries, and monuments.

Thanks, Stanalei. That was a lot of fun! Before we wrap, do you have a current WIP you’d like share?

I’m currently working on the books from contemporary romantic suspense I call my Northstar Series. You can find blurbs for each of the 5 books on my website.

LightningOnlyStrikesTwice_w6995_750Blurb, LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES TWICE:
After her grandfather’s death, mounting debts force Annie Crawford to sell her inheritance to uphold her family’s honor and avoid bankruptcy. Financial stability comes with an even higher price: her heritage. She must rebuild her legacy from nothing.

Purchasing Annie’s property means three things to Luke Maxwell: financial burden on Maxwell Development, opportunity to propel his career to the top by developing the old ghost town, and, ultimately, approval to take over his father’s company. All of which take precedence over his attraction to the pretty seller.

While touring the property, Annie and Luke are whisked back in time to the 1891 mining community. Together, they endure antiquated hardships and turn to each other for familiarity. Comfort soon becomes passion. As they face a lifetime in the wrong century, Annie and Luke discover a predestined responsibility to the future. Can the love they’ve propagated in the past take root in the present?

Excerpt, LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES TWICE:
Annie leaned toward him and sniffed. “Perhaps you’ve been celebrating Founders’ Day with more than coffee.” She patted her pockets. “Do you know what happened to my keys?”

Luke slammed his fist on the sideboard, rattling the dishes and making her jump back. “Damn it, Annie, there are no keys! There is no car. For all I know, they haven’t invented gasoline yet.”

Apprehension filled her face. “Okay, I’m leaving now.” She glanced behind her.

The door was only two feet away. She turned for it, but before she lifted the latch, Luke grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. She opened her mouth to scream, but he clamped a hand over it.

Wide, fear-filled eyes stared up at him. He swallowed, regretting the actions that caused her fear, but he couldn’t let her go. As he pulled her closer, her breasts flattened against his chest. Warmth spread through his limbs and the constant fuzziness that plagued him since his arrival vanished.

Annie must have felt the change too. She stopped struggling.

He lowered his head. His whiskers scratched her smooth cheek as he whispered in her ear. “I’m not going to hurt you. I promise. I just need you to believe me.” Without releasing his hand from her mouth, he tilted his head to see her face.

Indecision replaced her earlier apprehension. She nodded slowly.

He eased his hand away and she let go an earsplitting scream.

Damn the woman!

Without thought, he covered her mouth with his.

Buy Links, LIGHTNING ONLY STRIKES TWICE:
TWRP Trade Paperback
TWRP eBook
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Bookstrand 
All Romance eBooks.com

StanaleiFletcher-WebPicAuthor Bio
My love of writing romance stems from reading favorite such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Barbara Cartland and Alistair MacLean. I have over twenty years in the martial arts and hold the rank of Sandan, a third degree black belt in Aikido.

After a taste of life on both U.S. coasts, I now reside in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with my hero, who just happens to be my best friend and husband. Together we enjoy the open road astride a Harley, visiting museums and exploring our National Parks.

~ooOOoo~

You can find Stanalei at the following haunts:
Website
Facebook
  
Twitter
Goodreads

Buy Links for IMPERFECT DREAM-PERFECT REALITY
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

iBooks
Kobo
Sony
Bookstrand
All Romance eBooks.com   
 

Book Blitz: Painted Memories by Loni Flowers

I’m doing a rare Sunday post today because I’m happy to participate in the book blast tour for my friend, Loni Flowers. Check out this heart-warming read that should be on your TBR list! I adored this story!

Painting Blogs With Memories Book Blast copy

Title: Painted Memories        
Author:
Loni Flowers
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: January 21st, 2013
Format: E-book & Paperback
Page Length: 334
Word Count: 95,000

Blurb/Book Description: 
I’ve come to realize how much life can change with circumstance. One moment I was a happy sixteen year old girl with a great brother, Jesse, who I adored.

Then Jesse died.

No matter how much I wished it had been me in the accident, wishing will never change what happened. Five years later, my father’s eyes are still filled with hate and regret whenever he looks at me. I haven’t forgotten my mistake, but I’ve accepted it.

My father has not.

He may always see me as a failure, but I’m determined to make a fresh start in a new town where love promises to be more generous than the scorn I’ve left in my father’s eyes. With any luck, maybe some distance will make him see me as his daughter again. Until then I’ll find my own way.

It’s what Jesse would want.

Painted Memories is an original, contemporary romance about love, loss, and recovering from tragedy. Its characters are real. Between humor and heartbreak, it’s funny, touching, and full of redemption.

Painted_MemoriesExcerpt:
My apartment complex was off the beaten path, and if I hadn’t gotten lost in the first place, I might have never found Oakdale. Hidden from the main roads, tucked into a wooded area, huge oak trees surrounded the perimeter. It was a large complex, eight buildings total, two floors each. The property manager told me when I inquired about renting an apartment that there were twisted walking trails, which wrapped around one side of the pond, through the woods to the opposite of the pond. I also had access to basketball courts, tennis courts, and two swimming pools, if I preferred other activities. I was lucky there were several available units when I came across it. Oakdale seemed to be the place to live around here, but none of it mattered if I didn’t allow myself the luxury of using it. I always meant to, but never found the time. I had to start making the time, or else I could end up being a workaholic like my father. After living with him all my life, that was the last thing I wanted to become.

Sweat dripped down the back of my neck and other unmentionable parts of my body as I ran. The hot September made me realize I probably picked the worst time of day to drag myself around the track–late afternoon. I looked across the pond at my starting point and knew there was no way I’d be able to push myself all the way around without collapsing from exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke.

A noise behind me caught my attention and I stepped off the path to avoid forcing the person behind me to slow down.  I jogged between the concrete track and the edge of the water before noticing a man falling into stride beside me. He nodded with a smile and I grinned at him, hearing unknown lyrics streaming from the headphones in his ears. Suddenly, I shifted forward, with only the pond and a park bench in my line of sight. I tried to reach for the bench as I fell, my arms flailing. My body’s momentum propelled me forward and I screamed before being silenced by a mouthful of water.

I struggled, losing my footing every time I tried to stand up. I’ve got to get out! I’ve got to get out! The snakes are going to get me! were my only thoughts.

Water splashing, I choked on the brackish-brown water as I gasped for breath. I was going to drown or get bitten by a snake while everyone around me watched. The guy that was jogging beside me appeared on the edge of the bank, leaning over with his hand stretched out.

“Stand up,” he said. “It’s not that deep.”

After a moment, his words sunk in and I tried to stand. When I looked down at the water, I felt like an idiot, seeing the water only came up to my waist. I took a step toward him and reached for his hand just as something slimy brushed against my leg. With a terrified scream, I leaped forward.

“It’s going to bite me! Get me out! Get me out!” I yelled, splashing water everywhere. He pulled me up the embankment and my shoes slipped over the soft, wet dirt. I coughed up pond water as I gasped for a fresh breath in the humid air. He wrapped his arm around my waist and walked me toward an empty park bench only a few feet away.

“Are you okay?” he asked, sitting down beside me.

“Oh my God! Thank you. If you hadn’t helped me, I might have drowned.” I glared at the bystanders, still gawking at me from their park benches and private picnics. “Obviously, no one else was going to help,” I said louder than necessary. They averted their eyes while I stared, encouraging them to mind their own business.

“Well, it’s a good thing I decided to come for a run when I got off work, isn’t it? My name’s Drew, by the way,” he said, extending his hand.

I shook it, breathing heavily. I didn’t bother to mention that if I hadn’t moved over for him to pass, I wouldn’t have fallen in to begin with. “I’m Lilly.”

“Oh wait… you’ve got something—” he started to say as he reached his hand toward my hair.

I saw it out of the corner of my eye when he pulled it from between the strands of my hair. It was long and green, and only one word came to mind. Snake! I jumped up, a scream trapped in my throat, but slapped my hand over my mouth when he dangled the long piece of grass between his fingers in front of me. I closed my eyes and settled back down on the bench. I knew he must’ve thought I was such a freaking idiot.

Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

12_21_12Author Bio:  
Loni Flowers lives in Eastern North Carolina with her husband; two wild toddlers, who never slow down for a second; and three couch-potato dogs, who only raise an eye when food is around. She spends her days working full-time for a well-known bank and when Loni isn’t there, you can find her playing on the internet. Chatting on Twitter and Facebook is her weakness!

She loves to read and write, though can’t see to find time to do them both at the same time! Balance… she has none!

An easy reader, Loni loves most genres, but she’s a definite sucker for a good romance story!

Contemporary romance is her writing genre of choice but she’s not opposed to writing something different should an excellent idea strike.

Some of Loni’s favorite authors include: L.J. Kentowski, Stefne Miller, Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, and Karen Marie Moning, Nicholas Sparks, and Jodi Picoult… just to name a few.

Look for Loni at the following haunts:
Blog 
Web
Twitter 
Facebook 
Goodreads

 

Blog Tour: Christine Warner and Some Like it in Handcuffs

I’m delighted to have Christine Warner on my blog today as she tours with her contemporary romance, SOME LIKE IT IN HANDCUFFS.

Christine and I originally connected back in the days of Six Sentence Sundays, and have  become blogging and social media buddies. She’s always friendly, helpful and supportive of other authors and–hey–she knows how to create a swoon-worthy hero as you’re about to find out.

So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage (I’ll make mine Green Mountain Vermont Country decaf) and enjoy the special treat Christine has prepared for us!

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Before I get started I want to thank Mae for letting me take over her awesome blog today! Thanks for making me feel so welcome :)

One of my favorite things about sitting down to enjoy some reading time with a good romance is the moment the hero and heroine meet. I love to see what they think of each other in their own words—either by their internals or if they are so bold as to comment aloud. Lol

When I wrote Some Like it in Handcuffs—my light-hearted romantic suspense with humor—I also discovered I liked the process of writing their first impressions. To me, those first impressions show so much about who they really are.

I’d like to share Sunny Kennedy’s first impression of her hero Judson Blackwolf…and I hope when you’re finished reading you have as much of a crush on him as I do :)

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ENJOY!

His large hand combed through his thick overgrown hair before he stopped in annoyance then

swung around on his heel. The mercury light on the pole behind her lit his face as he looked down at her with the most extraordinary pair of gray eyes she’d ever seen. Not solid gray as she summed up in her hasty inspection, but the type of blue-gray color that matched the sky during a spring storm.

Definitely easy on the eyes. The startling realization that this no nonsense detective was quite

a specimen of manhood surprised her. It took her what…all of five minutes to notice. The word handsome didn’t do him justice. His strong, rugged features and dark coloring made his Native American heritage obvious. His height and size made her feel feminine and—she flinched—protected.

Her gaze traveled from the top of his head to the toes of his well-made leather shoes. If she’d paid attention from the start, instead of pouting over her predicament, she’d have noticed all of this sooner. Her lips twitched at her own blatant evaluation of him.

Just the type of guy she was attracted to, too bad he worked law enforcement. All her life she’d been surrounded by men who talked cop day and night. Sunny had sworn off ever actually dating anyone in the profession.

Okay, you’ve learned what weakens my knees at the beginning of a good romance…tell me what weakens yours. :)

About Christine Warner
Christine Warner is living her dream in Michigan along with her husband, three children, one laptop and a much loved assortment of furry friends. Besides laughing and a good round of humor, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, reading, writing but no arithmetic. A confessed people watcher, she finds inspiration for her stories in everyday activities. She loves to read and write about strong heroes and determined, sometimes sassy, heroines. A girl gone wild, at least where social media is concerned, she enjoys meeting other avid readers and writers on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and her Website.

Buy SOME LIKE IT IN HANDCUFFS at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
The Wild Rose Press

Wizards with Words: Calisa Rhose and Risk Factors

bigstock-magic-book-9719930Welcome Word Wizard fans!

Today, I have my friend and Lyrical Press sister, Calisa Rhose dropping by. It’s always a pleasure to feature her on my blog, and I’m happy to have her back with her new release, RISK FACTORS.

She’s on tour through April 11th, so be sure to grab the complete list of stops by clicking the banner below, or the tour schedule link Calisa provides at the end of our interview. For extra fun, she’s doing a giveaway too!

You can check out my 5-star review for RISK FACTORS on Amazon. In the meantime, I invite you to learn more about Calisa, her characters and the heartwarming story she created in this contemporary romance.

~ooOOoo~

480x240BlueBackgroundredtrim

Hello again, Mae! How fun this is! I just love your blog! :)

Please start by telling us a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

Calisa Rhose is an Okie, born and bred, through and through, and proud of it. While growing up, when she wasn’t on the back of a horse, she could be found with pen and paper in hand. Her writing career began with poetry in her younger days. Then she discovered Rock-n-Roll and cute musicians. Poetry turned into stories of romance and dreams. These days she lives with the same man who convinced her to take a romantic journey with him almost 30 years ago. After raising three strong daughters she spends her days loving their granddaughters, hoping for a boy someday, and writing. When she’s not writing, you can find Calisa putting on her editor hat and working to help other published and aspiring writers.

She is working on more projects with her favored contemporary cowboys, first responders  and firemen.

b-w profile pic

Find Calisa at her website/blog http://calisarhose.wordpress.com

Twitter@CalisaRhose,
Facebook/Calisa Rhose,
Goodreads
and Amazon

~ooOOoo~


Your new contemporary romance, RISK FACTORS, was released on March 4th by Lyrical Press.  I love the cover.  It feels so romantic and breezy.  Tell us about the plot.

I love the cover too, Mae!

Love, like life, is not without risk.

Veterinarian Vivian Dane has purchased her uncle’s practice in the tiny town of Wales, Missouri, where most residents still doubt her ability to treat their pets. But Viv is used to being considered less-worthy than her predecessors. After all, her parents are world-renowned wildlife vets, and most everyone is unimpressed she’s chosen to not follow directly in their footsteps. Now Connor, a patient’s owner, and is hot for Viv, but clearly doesn’t think she’s dating material because he has a daughter…who he believes no woman is good enough for.

Being a perfect dad is EMT paramedic Connor’s life focus. He can’t seem to stay away from sexy Doctor Viv, but attraction is as far as he’ll ever let it go. His mother abandoned him, leaving him to be raised in the foster system, and then his wife abandoned both him and their daughter. He absolutely will not risk bringing another woman into his little girl’s life and having her feel the hurt of being left…again.

Forfeiting is easier than attempting and failing. So why does Viv feel compelled to prove she’s a sure bet for Connor and his daughter? Can Connor trust Viv–and himself–enough to play the possibilities?

CONTENT WARNING: Happy-ever-after mixed with four-legged friends.

A Lyrical Press Contemporary Romance

I love the backgrounds you created for the characters, especially Conner. And a single dad always makes my heart melt. You chose to set it in a small town in Missouri. Any particular reason?

Not really. I didn’t want Oklahoma for this one but I still needed to retain that southern-y country feel and Missouri is such a beautiful state. It sounded perfect. Of course, during edits last year I thought I might change the main city in it, Joplin, because between the writing and sell of RF there was that horrific tornado that wiped out the hospital I modeled mine after in the book. In fact the whole city was damaged so badly I felt bad even having it in the story, but it fit, so I kept it.

Wow, I didn’t realize, but perhaps your book can serve as a tribute. Do you have a favorite scene in the novel? What makes it special for you?

I have a few favorite scenes, Mae. But one is in a hotel room after a bad scene with Viv’s parents. Viv is trying to get through her sad bubble by dancing and…well, I’ll let you read it. LOL

Ooh, it was awesome. I remember that scene! :) Stepping away from the H/h for a moment, who is your favorite secondary character in the book and why?

Definitely Connor’s daughter, Janna! She keeps a ‘few’ pets and they are quite a bunch. She’s a charm and was fun to write, though I do wish I’d given her more in the book.

I loved Janna. She really added to every scene she was in. Now let’s talk technique–Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to write?

Um, when I can? Lol I never know when things will go in any direction other than productive, but early mornings, after checking emails, if I’m not working on edits. If that’s the case, then I do edits (for others, not mine) in the morning when I’m fresh and able to focus. I usually get my most writing done in the evening after dinner and homework is over.

As writers, we’re often asked if we’re plotters or pansters (or somewhere in between), but I know many authors also differ in how they create scenes. So…do you write in a strictly linear fashion or do you hop around and produce scenes and chapters out of sequence as they come to you?

First, I’m a linear pantser. I write from A-Z in a rough draft and then I go back and layer all the emotion, sensory aspects and such once the first draft is complete. If I happen to think of a scene that would be better in another place in the wip, I’ll write it and put it in a file until I need it.

When you’re not writing (or reading) what do you enjoy doing?

I love my horse and pampering him with a bath, brushing or riding him in warmer weather. I spend time with family watching movies or going places, visiting friends and family.

Please share a few of your favorite authors and book titles.

Oh boy. I hate this question because I have so many and I can never remember the names or titles but one of my favorite is Nora Roberts and her Key Trilogy. I also like Vonnie Davis. Hilariously talented author for WRP and a lovely friend. It really doesn’t matter which of her books you pick up, no matter what genre, you are guaranteed a laugh and often a tear. I’m sure, once I have time to read it, I’ll love Weathering Rock and you’ll become a favorite too! ;)

How sweet! :) What do you have in your cache of WIPs that we can look forward to in the future?

Well, I’ve been trying to pull my fireman through a wip, but that seems to be on hold again. I’m working on a story, tentatively titled Winter’s Song, about Brie Collins, a woman whom life has not been great to but she still tries to maintain a positive attitude, and her one wish is meet the man of her dreams. She has had a tough life and as an adult the challenges seem to keep coming at her, knocking her off balance and threatens to be the end of her. My hero, Zane River, is an orphan with a chunk of pain he wears like body armor. He’s made it to the top of the world through his music, but with a singular goal to beat the one place that mistreated him and made his childhood a living hell. Little does he know he will be put to the test and forced to think of someone other than himself and his goals. Or that he’ll fall in love along the way.

Winter’s Song sounds fantastic, and I love the names of your characters! I’ll cross my fingers the writing goes smoothly and we can look forward to its release in the near future. And now some quickies:

Favorite movie: Hope Floats
Favorite snack item: Anything chocolate
Favorite color: Dark green
Favorite number: 2
Favorite TV show: NCIS or CSI:NY
Dawn or dusk: Dawn
Coffee or tea: Coffee
Dream vacation spot gifted to you by a fairy godmother, all expenses paid: Ireland

That was fun! How about sharing an excerpt from RISK FACTORS?

Risk Factors300dpiEXCEPRT:
It was close to five o’clock and Viv wanted to go home. Winter hadn’t reached the Midwest yet, but from September through October the temperatures often dipped and dove sporadically, before diving for the long winter ahead. There’d been a slight chill in the air that morning and she hoped for a few more weeks of warmth before harsh weather moved in.

She looked forward to a hot soak in the bathtub, but Skittles was due for pick-up first. Connor had assured her he’d pick her up, or have his father get her before five. She glanced at her watch again. Four-fifty-six. She didn’t mind staying late if she needed to; it would be a shame to leave the nervous animal alone another night.

She opened the small closet to put the dust mop away.

“Hello.”

With a start, she spun and her hand caught the broom handle on her way around. Gasping, she grabbed uselessly, horrified as the cleaning tool flew sideways from the closet. In slow motion she saw it shoot out against Connor’s shoulder and fall with a sharp snap onto the tile floor.

“Oh! I’m so–so sorry! Are you hurt?” Instant heat rushed up her neck and she bent to reclaim the errant broom to shove into the closet. She slammed the door and leaned against it on a sharp breath.

“I’m fine. You worried your killer broom might attack again? You might consider putting a lock on the door,” he said with a crooked smile.

Puzzled, Viv looked around and realized with total humiliation how it appeared she’d trapped the broom inside the closet–when in actuality, she wanted to climb through the door beside the instrument and hide.

“Of course not. That would be silly. I didn’t expect you right now.”

“It’s two minutes of five. I told you I’d be here for Skittles. Is it too late?”

Right. The skunk. “No. I’m sure she’s more than ready to go home. Do you have the pet carrier to put her in?” She probably didn’t need to ask when Connor stood empty-handed before her.

He lowered his head and she knew he’d forgotten it, fought back a smile at his forgetfulness. “Sorry. I drove straight from work and didn’t think about it.”

“No worry. I have one you can borrow.” Which meant he’d have to see her again. She’d definitely need to see him again.

“Thank you. I’ll bring it back tomorrow.”

“Oh, there’s no rush. I keep a few on hand for emergencies.” She led him back to the cage where the skunk still huddled, and got a carrier while he opened the cage to retrieve his daughter’s pet. As he lifted the black fur ball out, Viv set a pink case next to him.

He hissed under his breath and almost let the animal loose. Viv opened the cage and held it upright for him to lower the skunk down inside and shut the door. Once he stood with the pet taxi, she detected a smear of red on one finger.

“She bit you?” Skunk bite, rabies, germs…

“It’s fine. When she’s scared she tends to nip a warning like a cat.” Connor’s lack of care concerned Viv, however.

“I should clean it with antiseptic before you go.”

“I’ll tend it when I get home.”

“But, it may have germs…get infected.”

“It’s not the first time, and her rabies vaccination is current. Thank you, but it’s not necessary.”

Viv stopped by a cabinet on the way to the front reception area to grab ointment and a Band-Aid.

~ooOOoo~

BUY RISK FACTORS AT:
Lyrical Press, Inc.
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

That was fun, Mae! Thanks again for having me.

At the end of this tour I’ll be picking one winner to gift either a signature rose rock for a USA winner or a $10 GC of choice (Kindle or Nook) for one overseas or in Canada. Either winner will also get a PDF copy of Risk Factors!

The more you stalk me and comment, the greater your chance to win on April 8th. I’ll announce the winner on the 10th. Thank you for joining me on this fun journey’s end and good luck to all!

As a special bonus, I’ll be pooling all my blog hosts and the one with the most comments on their blog for my post will also win one of the same prizes as the winners! They need your help to win! Please note, this also includes my two hosts before today, so I’d appreciate if you check my official blog tour schedule and give them a chance to win by going to their blogs too.

I’d like to ask your readers what they like to see in a heroine?

Wizards with Words: Author Sarah Ballance with LAST CALL

A beam of light shines out from an open bookIt’s Wizards with Words time, and I’m tickled pink to have Sarah Ballance on my blog today! Sarah is an outstanding author with a catalog of must-read novels and an active blogger who graciously promotes other writers. Today I have the pleasure of inviting her to share her new release, LAST CALL. So let’s get started! :)

Sarah, you’re an established author with a number of books already to your credit (several of them on my Kindle, the others on my TBR list). I’d love to know how you got started.

Sarah: *blushes fiercely* Um, wow. What an intro! I’m incredibly flattered—thank you, and thanks so much for having me! I honestly never wanted to be an author. About four years ago a friend of mine told me I should write a book. I said no, I couldn’t do that. Then I proceeded to write my first book precisely because I don’t like to be told I can’t do something—not even by ME. I figured I’d shelve the book, but my crit partner wouldn’t let me. I submitted to precisely one publisher and was offered a contract, and that’s how I ended up with the dubious honor of having my first work of fiction (DOWN IN FLAMES) out there for the world to read. Not long after I finished it I fell in love with romantic suspense via Harlequin Intrigues and I was hooked.

What a fascinating start! I love your reaction of rising to the challenge! Your current release, LAST CALL, is now available for purchase. Can you share some tidbits about the characters and plot?

Sarah: Eight months after accidentally shooting Rhys during a bad drug bust, Nick returns only to see her image on the late news as a murder victim. Something doesn’t feel right, but before he can ask too many questions he’s led to her “body” and ordered to keep her safe or they’ll both end up dead. The forced proximity, unseen enemy, and unresolved feelings from their past combine to create a mound of tension that doesn’t quit until the last page. 

I love romantic suspense, and Rhys and Nick certainly sound like they’ll have great chemistry together. There’s nothing like romantic tension and danger to create a mesmerizing book cocktail! Do you find it hard to balance the two elements—romance and jeopardy—or do they blend easily as you write?

Sarah: The blend comes easily to me, but I wish I could say the same for the plot points, LOL.

Given your genre, do you find it necessary to do a lot of research when crafting a story? I’m imagining things like police procedure, ballistics, and crime scene techniques (to name a few). How much research goes into a novel like LAST CALL?

Sarah: With one exception (UNFORGIVEN, which is my favorite of my books) I haven’t needed to do a lot of research, probably because I’m a constant peruser of all things true crime and I don’t go into a lot of technical detail, though I do fact check anything relevant to a specific locality. UNFORGIVEN, however, was a beast. I had to find the perfect firearm for the job and rig a crafty explosion. These were not things I knew off the top of my head, and in fact I went back and forth between my husband and google for an entire day trying to get the right weapon. (He’s still speaking to me, yes.)

 LOL! Okay, technique time. Do you decide on setting or characters first?

Sarah: Must I be difficult? LOL. I start with the story idea, and the setting and characters seem to fall in place from there. I don’t actively plan how it happens, but I’m thrilled to put the pieces together as they come.

Tell us something that readers might find surprising about your two lead characters.

Sarah: They used to be other characters. LAST CALL was originally plotted as a sequel to UNFORGIVEN, with Maverick taking Nick’s role. When I decided not to develop the book into a series, I had to figure out who my hero was all over again.

Do you have a favorite scene in the book? Can you share a bit about it without giving too much away?

Sarah: There’s a part after they, uh, flee their hotel room where Nick is trying to piece her wound back together and she’s just grinning at him. I love the moment between them because it’s the first time they really shed the past and find that old dynamic they shared.

Which do you find hardest to write—the beginning or end, and did that hold true with LAST CALL?

Sarah: Normally the beginning is tough and the end comes easily. This book was the total opposite. I had the beginning quite clear in my head, but the ending was so difficult I nearly tossed the entire manuscript into the great recycle bin in the sky. (Well, mine is actually on my computer’s desktop, and the story nearly ended up there more than once, lol).

Thank goodness you didn’t! Do you work with a critique partner(s)? Do you belong to any writing organizations and have you found them beneficial?

Sarah: I find an extra set of eyes to be invaluable. I have a couple of crit partners plus a reader I trust to be honest, so I feel I’m lucky in that regard. I just recently started attending my local RWA chapter and I’m mostly terrified and plastered to the wall, but I think if I ever start breathing while I’m there I’ll learn SO much.

If you could have a coffee date with an author of your choice to discuss technique, who would you choose and why?

Sarah: I’m totally cheating here, but there’s a loophole, so I pick my editor with Entangled. (She has co-authored a book before, lol). And I had coffee with her just last week and we did in fact discuss my writing, which was completely awesome. I learn so incredibly much from her I’m >this< close to stealing bathwater. Yeah, it’s like that.

And now let’s learn about Sarah through some quick one word answers. :)

Favorite color: blue

Favorite animal: horse

Favorite food: chile relleno

Chocolate or vanilla: chocolate

Casual or dressy: casual

Silver or gold: silver

Thanks, Sarah, that was fun! Before we wrap, would you like to share a teaser about what you’re working on next—because I know you’ve got to have something up your creative sleeve!

Sarah: I’m writing a historical romance, and I really don’t know how that happened. Like, I really don’t know. I’m still waiting to hear from acquisitions, though if they don’t want it I’m going to finish it anyway. The early feedback has been staggering-in-a-good-way, and I’ve gotten some of the most amazing compliments of my writing career as a direct result of this manuscript. I just wish I could figure out how this all happened. Because … seriously. I don’t know.

Amazing! I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be waiting to see what happens with that ms. I do love a good historical every bit as much as I love romantic suspense!

LastCall 500x750LAST CALL BLURB:
In a perilous game of trust, a shocking betrayal deals a dangerous hand.

An accidental witness to a murder-for-hire, ex-cop Rhys Clark becomes the target of ruthless killer—one determined to silence her at any cost. Playing dead seems to be the most likely way to stay alive, but when her protection comes in the form of mega-sexy former adversary Nick Massey, Rhys can think of  a few fates worse than death.

Nick Massey may have walked away from his troubles, but he never got past wanting Rhys. Once paired undercover, they’d been nothing but fireworks until a botched assignment ended her career, sending his into a tailspin. Now a mysterious client threatens Nick’s life if he doesn’t keep Rhys safe, but it isn’t until fate takes a critical turn that he realizes the devastating truth: he’s been her greatest threat all along.

LAST CALL EXCERPT:
A man stepped into [Rhys’s] line of sight, his weapon at the ready. Before she could stop herself, she locked eyes with him. Big mistake. The decision threw her into a cloud of emotional shrapnel, the past flying at her in shards.

She’d been shot once before.

It hadn’t ended well.

The gunman opened his mouth and formed an ugly grin, his breath coming in visible puffs through yellowed teeth.

“Looks like a double header tonight, T,” he said, never taking his gaze off Rhys.

“Whaddya mean?” came the reply. The voice . . . she blinked until the second man shifted into focus.

She knew him. From where? She couldn’t think.

She glanced to the dead man, and her vision wavered. Panic shifted her world into a screen of jarred pixels, the flashback jagged and severe.

Rhys! Stay with me, Rhys. Do you hear me? Rhys!”

 Blood. So much blood.

“Nick.” She touched his face, feeling stubble beneath her fingertips. Then the weight of her arm was too much; as gravity won he slipped away. The world twisted into a sickening spiral until all that was left was his voice, the desperation in his tone bringing warmth to the darkness.

“Rhys!”

Motion jarred her to the present.

The gunman gestured. “Our witness here is about to have an unfortunate accident.” He raised the weapon, aiming for the kill.

It was a short view down the barrel at point blank range. She expected that.

What she didn’t anticipate was the speed with which he pulled the trigger.

Or how quickly the pain hit.

BUY LINKS:
LAST CALL is available from: For the Muse PublishingAmazonBarnes & Noble, and Smashwords (formats: .mobi, .epub, HTML, PDF, RTF, LRF, PalmDoc, and Plain Text). Click here to add to Goodreads or here for reviews.

Sarah BallanceAUTHOR BIO:
Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.

She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on her website.

You can find Sarah at the following haunts:

Website: http://www.sarahballance.com/

Blog: http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBallance

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Ballance