Category Archives: For Writers

#HobbyCareerPassion: Author Barbara Bettis  – Frontier Newspapers & New Release: Last Stop, Wylder / Historical Western #WRPbks #Blog

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Barbara Bettis…

 

 Emily and I Share a Fascination with Newspapers

cheyenne frotn pag 1875 (2)

When I decided to write a story for The Wild Rose Press series Wylder West, the choice of a major plot element was almost a given.

There was no question of what my heroine would do. Work at a newspaper of course. The fictional town of Wylder is set in 1870s Wyoming, some fifteen miles from Cheyenne.

Nearly every frontier town had a newspaper of one kind or another. Daily, weekly, twice-monthly—didn’t matter. Having news and information available to residents was considered almost a necessity. News reports from around the world that could be accessed by newspapers were sent via telegraph, although news organizations like The Associated Press charged a fee and contracted with only one paper per town (at that time).  Formed May 22, 1846 by five New York newspapers, the AP is still in operation.

Back to frontier news—not every paper that came into existence lasted long. In fact, papers had a tendency to pop into existence and then out again fairly regularly. On the other hand, some produced both daily and weekly editions. Editors of course were influential.

In the1870s, real Cheyenne newspapers flourished. It seemed easy to have a weekly paper nearby. And of course, Emily should have a contact there—actually, her brother had just purchased the Wylder Sun a year or so before Emily decided to visit him and give him a hand with the operation.

She was a natural for the job. In Kansas City, where she lived with her parents, she periodically wrote an opinion column for the fledgling Kansas City Star. Of course, she published under her initials and last name so none would know the author was a female.

Respectable females didn’t write political comment that doubled as opinion columns. Respectable females would never allow their names to be used in such a manner. If they wrote at all, it might be a society piece that reflected a women’s place in the home. They all had pen names of some sort.

(You’ve undoubtedly heard the old saying that a lady’s name should appear in newspapers only three times during her life: birth, wedding, and death.)

Emily’s career as a columnist came a few years before the famous Nelly Bly went to work for the Pittsburgh Dispatch and ultimately did a tremendous job of enlarging the role of women in newspaper reporting and writing.

Emily, as my first Western heroine, was rather doomed to become a newspaper lady because that’s what I was every day of my life for twelve years before I went into teaching. And after that, every other summer during my teaching career. (Alternate summers I worked on my doctorate). Throughout the year, as a stringer, I occasionally did stories for the local daily news. I taught newspaper reporting and editing at an area four year college, and I firmly believed—and still do—the  discipline demanded practice in order to keep up with the changes in the industry.

Yes, I am saddened at the demise of many newspapers now that technology makes television and internet news so available. But both have a place in the news business.

The ability of newspapers to do thorough, often lengthy, investigation into topics is one that most electronic organizations don’t duplicate.

Although retired, I still share with Emily a passion for getting accurate, objective, complete reports out to readers.

In Last Stop, Wylder, her passion for newspaper writing is central to her personal story. I hope you enjoy reading, as well, how it plays a part in her romance with Morgan.

 

Last Stop, Wylder, bestA gunman’s word is his bond, and a lady’s heart can shatter.

Blurb:

Gunman Morgan Dodd is headed to a new life in California, where no one knows his name. Or his reputation. Just one last job to raise money for his fresh start—gunhand for a railroad agent in Wyoming. Easy enough. Until he meets the woman who could change everything.

After ending her engagement, Emily Martin longs for independence. She sets out for Wylder, Wyoming, to help her brother with his newspaper. But when she arrives, she finds he’s off investigating a story. Well, then! She’ll simply publish the paper herself until he returns. Emily’s prepared to face challenges, but not the dangerous stranger who ambushes her heart. The same man hired to destroy her livelihood.

When a common enemy threatens, Morgan and Emily must find a way to defeat danger and save their budding love. But a gunman’s word is his bond, and a lady’s trust can shatter.

Excerpt:  

The stranger had winked, cool as you please. Should she be insulted? Angry? Oh! She’d neglected to thank him. Now she was embarrassed.

Her brother had much to explain. And I have a lot to learn. More than she’d imagined.

Tommy unwrapped the reins, unlocked the brake, and the horse clopped forward. “Where to, ma’am?”

She straightened her back, firmed her shoulders, and waved her hand in front of her nose to dispel engine fumes. “The newspaper office, please.”

The reins jerked and the horse stopped. The youth’s face beamed red again.

“That wouldn’t be such a good idea, ma’am.”

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Last-Stop-Wylder-West-ebook/dp/B0B7KH6D86/

B & N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/last-stop-wylder-barbara-bettis/1141875393

Me-snapshot

Bio:

Multi-award-winning author Barbara Bettis can’t recall a time she didn’t love adventures of daring heroes and plucky heroines. A retired journalist and college English and journalism teacher, she lives in Missouri where she tries to keep her grandchildren supplied with cookies. When she’s not editing for others, she’s working on her own stories with heroines to die for– and heroes to live for.

Author Links:

Website/Blog – http://www.barbarabettis.com

BookBub – www.bookbub.com/authors/barbara-bettis

Facebook – www.facebook.com/barbarabettisauthor

Twitter – www.twitter.com/barbarabettis

 

20 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release

#HobbyCareerPassion: Author Gini Rifkin  – Raising Goats & New Release: Break Heart Canyon

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Gini Rifkin…

 

    In my new historical romance, Break Heart Canyon, my heroine is a Scottish immigrant who raises goats in Colorado. While in the process of researching weaving, spinning, and farming during 1878, I began to consider following in my heroine’s footsteps.

PRECIOUS 022 (2)

    I have been rescuing farm animals for over 20 years and my first rescue was a three footed angora goat named Precious. When I got her, she was in bad shape, with a heavily matted and tangled coat, blood sucking lice, and the three feet she did have were overgrown.

  Every year I would trim off and keep her mohair. This procedure had to be done by hand as she was terrified of the electric clippers, but those hours were a special time for us as we bonded and listened to the oldies on the radio in the barn.

    I have previously experimented with felting, but that was as far as I got—until recently. This year I decided to take lessons at the yarn shop to learn to spin and weave those bags of mohair. Although sweet Precious is gone, I think of her with heartwarming memories as I card her hair and try to achieve “greatness” at this ancient art.

    The process of weaving being many thousands of years old, think of all the hands that plied the yarn and threw the shuttle to make cloth so vital to everyone from the common man to royalty.

    Working on my rigid heddle loom is going better than spinning on the drop spindle, but both offer hours of relaxation, reflection, and the rewriting of chapters in my head. Now I’m spinning tales along with weaving tea towels. Had it not been for one brave little goat, I would never have thought of making this wonderful hobby a part of my life. 

    In Break Heart Canyon, there are also two lovable donkeys inspired by my two rescues, Jack and Rosie. Burros are incredible animals, thoughtful rather than stubborn, and intelligent with the gift for frequently outsmarting me. Along with the goats, ducks, and cats they have brightened my days and brought wonderful people into my world.

    Wish I could show my heroine, Una MacLaren, the scarf I’m working on now. I’m sure she would agree we are fortunate to be surrounded by animals who keep us grounded, give us joy, and teach us what is most important in our lives. You can meet Una, and the handsome rascal who steals her heart, in Break Heart Canyon.

Excerpt:

With her fiery red hair and apparent love for the land and animals, she seemed the perfect person to live in this secluded vale surrounded by a canyon brimming with tall-tales and legends.

Standing now in her cabin, inhaling the tantalizing aroma of food, and dowsed in the fragrance of the hanging herbs and spices, Ryker believed this woman was capable of casting a spell on him. She needn’t bother, he was already smitten. Yes smitten. Never in his life had that term seemed relevant. The rampage of feelings she stirred in him ran the gambit from wanting to bed her, to wanting to protect her, to wanting to walk away from her as fast as possible.

She was a danger to his way of life. Or maybe his way of life was a danger to his happiness. Una confused him. Made him unsettled. And what a fetching picture she created, one easy to commit to memory and long for at a later date. But he wasn’t fond of wasting time on lonely reflections—he needed to vacate the cabin.

“Anything I can do for you other than get out of your way?”

“More firewood is always appreciated.”

He hurried outside, relieved to have a legitimate reason for performing any activity other than standing and staring at her like a randy schoolboy. Returning with all the split wood he could carry, he deposited the armload by the stove and turned to leave.

“Thank you, Ryker.”

For the first time, she’d called him by his Christian name, and dang he liked the sound of it wrapped in her unpredictable Scottish burr.

“You’re welcome, Una.” His reply came over his shoulder as he left. The jaunty tune she hummed hesitated for a moment. He smiled. Did she like the sound of her name on his lips as well?

https://books2read.com/u/mqExL6  

http://ginirifkin.blogspot.com   

https://amzn.to/2R53KA9

 https://www.facebook.com/people/Gini-Rifkin-Author/100001680213365

Gini Rifkin writes stories of romance and adventure. Her settings include the American West, Medieval & Victorian England, and Contemporary thriller & fantasy. When not reading or writing, she keeps busy spinning goat hair and weaving. She also has the privilege of caring for a menagerie of abandoned animals including ducks, goats, donkeys, and cats. Born in Illinois, when struck by wanderlust, she moved to Colorado and met her husband, Gary. They shared the journey for 30 years, spending vacations canoeing, doing Mountain Man reenacting, and traveling around this great country. Although Gary has passed on, a little bit of him lives on in every hero she creates. Gini considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts.

2 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release

#HobbyCareerPassion: Author Amber Daulton – Belle’s Love of Music & New Release: Arresting Benjamin

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Amber Dalton and her heroine, Belle Hamlin…

Female singer with crowd

Hi, readers. I’m Belle Hamlin, the heroine from Amber Daulton’s new romantic suspense novel, Arresting Benjamin. I’m excited to talk about my greatest passion—playing music. It’s also my career, but the money I make from it dumps it into the hobby category. Yep, that’s right. I’m a struggling musician with a dreaded day job at an insurance company that is sucking the life out of me.

I live in Denver, Colorado, but I travel all across the state for a paying gig. I mostly play at bars and clubs, but sometimes I perform covers of classic songs for weddings, birthdays, and funerals. I can’t afford to be picky when it comes to a reputable gig. You’ll often find my best friends—Mia, Chanel, and Shea—running the merchandise table for me at a bar. They’re my biggest supporters. (By the way, have you checked out their oh-so-sexy books yet? You can find them here.)

Anyway, I need my music like I need the air to breathe. My heroes are music legends like Melissa Etheridge, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Nicks, so I write both folky and rock ballads. Since I draw inspiration from my own personal experience, most of my songs delve into relationships gone bad. I’ve met a lot of fans at my shows, and I’m honored and humbled every time someone tells me how much they relate to the pain, frustration, and rage I’ve vented into my songs. I write from the heart, but sometimes it’s hard to share my pain and humiliation so openly. It’s worth it, though, if I can make anyone feel better about themselves and let them know they aren’t alone. Music should heal and offer hope, and that’s my goal in writing and playing music.

Since several of my songs lean toward man-bashing and revenge tales, I thought for sure that Benji, my new guy, would run far away once he heard them. Thankfully, he proved me wrong. I gotta say, Benji has made me happy and healed some of my wounds, but that’s put a dent in my angsty creative process. Now, I’m not knocking our relationship or anything, but I’ve written a few sappy love songs lately and they clash with my damn-all-men-to-hell songs. I’m worried I’ll lose fans if I don’t keep up my angry, bad girl rocker persona with lyrics that match, but I write what I feel, and I’m in love. Sue me.

All in all, though, songwriting and performing is who I am. It’s my hobby, career, and passion all wrapped into one. I can’t be anyone other than who I am, and I don’t want to be.

Are you interested in reading about one of my performances? Check out the excerpt below. It’s in Benji’s POV, but I think he did a good job of describing the situation.

Thanks so much for visiting.

PS – Do you want a $25 Amazon gift card? Check out my Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0a0982c528/

Arresting Benjamin

With enemies at every turn, how will they survive with their lives and love intact?

Blurb

A one-night stand, a surprise baby, and a mysterious stalker.

Mechanic Benjamin Starwell can’t stop thinking about Belle Hamlin, the ballsy musician he slept with and skipped out on months earlier. He never meant to get her pregnant, but he’ll do whatever it takes to win back her trust and be a part of his child’s life. His desire for Belle drives him to be a better man, but he’s worn thin with a garage to run and his estranged sister dumping her troubles on him.

Belle’s juggling impending motherhood, her indie rock career, and a stalker who’s determined to see her fail. Even though she’s desperate to get her priorities straight, she pushes aside her past hurt and welcomes Benji back into her bed. She never expects him to slip into her heart.

When the danger escalates, they face the greatest challenge of all—protecting their unborn child.

Excerpt:

Benji’s heart pounded harder as Belle strutted onto the stage from a rear door. Her hips swayed with a ba-dum beat as her hair flapped behind her shoulders. Was there an air vent above her? Dark eye shadow, mascara, and a dark slash of blush on her cheeks deepened her sultry eyes. Her lips swelled like a juicy plum. God, was her lipstick purple? Burgundy, maybe? She bent over, showing off her fine ass, and plugged her acoustic-electric guitar into the amp.

A baby-faced gopher carried a stool and a water bottle to the middle of the platform.

She patted him on the back and stared out at the crowd.

Several men ogled her, despite the baby bump. Their lady friends laughed, but some frowned and slapped the guys’ arms.

Wow. Benji swallowed hard. What he wouldn’t do to unzip her knee-high leather boots, pull down her stockings, and flip up her short pleated skirt? Her red sleeveless blouse emphasized the breasts he couldn’t wait to suckle.

“Hiya, Tempes lovers! How ya doin’? Thanks for coming out in this cold weather.” Her voice echoed through the speakers. The lights lit Belle and the stage in a soft white glow. She strummed the guitar, testing it, as the audience shouted. “I’m Belle Hamlin, and this badass girl is Matilda.” She held up the sunburst-finished instrument. “We’ll rock you for the next hour, so let’s get started.” She ignored the stool, jumping into a song as her fans applauded. Deep, rumbling chords reverberated from the guitar and speakers.

“She’s starting with ‘Stay True’.” Chanel clapped. “It’s my favorite.”

“This is rock-and-roll. She sang folk and singer/songwriter-type stuff the night we met.” He bit his lip as her friends stood and danced in place.

“What did you expect? She’s a solo female artist sandwiched between testosterone-filled rock bands. She has to up her game.” Shea tapped his CD case and flashed a grin. “Give it a whirl later. Belle is a cross between Melissa Etheridge, Stevie Nicks, and Eric Clapton. Her guy issues and social opinions bleed into her songs.”

Wonderful. Guy issues. He had his work cut out for him.

Buy links:

Only .99 cents until October 18, 2022

Universal link – https://books2read.com/arrestingbenjamin/

Amazon – https://amzn.to/3usC6SN

Barnes and Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w?ean=2940186751144

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id6443054336

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/arresting-benjamin

Google Play – https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=JHJ5EAAAQBAJ

About Amber:

Amber Daulton

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

Find out more here: https://linktr.ee/AmberDaulton

Sign up for her exclusive newsletter (free ebook to new subscribers): https://bit.ly/amberdaultonnewsletter

1 Comment

Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release

#HobbyCareerPassion: Sadira Stone ~ Zodiac Encounters Anthology / Steamy Romance #Blog #AHAgrp

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Sadira Stone…

Crystals, Palmistry, Astrology & Tarot: Getting Woo-Woo for Zodiac Encounters

My two novellas in the Zodiac Encounters Anthology feature a funky, woo-woo crystal shop in a Washington State beach town. Customers come to Madame Zora’s Psychic Emporium for tarot, palm, and aura readings, or to buy all sorts of esoteric gear like books, crystals, figurines, and don’t forget the tie-dyed socks!

I love browsing this kind of hippie-dippy shop and dabbling in divination. As a teen, I learned palmistry—mainly because my best friend learned to read tarot cards and I wanted a cool party trick like hers. Recently I bought my own tarot deck and am slowly learning how to use them. Fascinating!

A hippie mama at heart, imagine my delight when I was invited to participate in a steamy, astrology-themed romance anthology! My two signs are Capricorn and Taurus, paired with a Scorpio and an Aquarius, respectively, so I had to learn lots about these star signs. I also got my own natal chart done just for kicks. About 80% was spot on, while the rest left me scratching my head. I’m a Leo with Capricorn rising and a Taurus moon! Coincidence? Or a nudge from the universe?

Gemma, my Aquarius heroine, works in her Aunt Zora’s crystal shop, so of course I expanded my crystal collection while writing her story—to add authentic detail, and because pretty rocks are cool! I’ve got carnelian and clear quartz crystal for mental clarity, rose quartz to balance energy, rainbow flourite for productivity and creativity, amber for healing, aragonite for homesickness, labradorite to temper negativity, and amethyst for decision making. The latter also protects from drunkenness, in case I’m every tempted to drink while writing! So far, that’s not a problem, but you never know…

My theory about crystals: just knowing that a certain stone is supposed to help with a certain problem will focus your intentions and actions toward solving that problem. Woo woo? Not necessarily. After moving from Washington State to Las Vegas, I was terribly homesick and having a hard time seeing the pluses of living here. Placing that chunk of aragonite (small brown crystal at 7 o’clock in the photo) on my nightstand and holding it every night and morning, my homesickness has eased—probably because I set the intention of letting go of those sad feelings.

So, I hope you’ll enjoy Madame Zora’s crystal shop and the help she provides to the characters in Capricorn and Taurus. Zodiac Encounters is on sale for just 99¢ (ebook only) for a limited time, so grab your copy from your favorite online bookseller!  Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/bMYOr8

When the stars align, passion sizzles!

Limited time only–grab these 12 spicy, astrology-inspired novellas by bestselling and award-winning romance authors. From Capricorn to Sagittarius, these tales bring the heat!

Which star sign is the most seductive? Hot-blooded? Sensual? Dominant? Twelve fiery couplings showcase the steamy possibilities.

Claim your copy while they last, and experience red-hot, star-fated romance at its finest.  

Excerpt:

From Taurus:

   “Hey, Jesse.”

   He turned toward her with a quizzical scowl.

   “You know about the Esoteric Arts Expo in Portland next month?”

   “Yeah. Got the extra herbs Zora ordered under a bank of grow-lights.”

   “You’ll be there, right?”

   His dark brows drew together. “At the expo? No. Why?”

   Gemma grasped his arms, relishing the feel of firm muscle through his thick woolen coat. “You’ve got an organic herb farm! You could offer teas, tinctures, potted plants. Give me a list of what you grow, and I’ll write up their magical properties.”

   Jesse snorted, which only made him more bull-like. “Listen, I grow culinary herbs, stuff for tea and home remedies, not magic potions.”

   Yup, bull-headed to a fault. She forced her lips to unscowl. Being judgmental would get her nowhere with his type. He needed practical proof. “How could you ignore this huge market? The esoteric community is hungry for local products with integrity.”

   “My business is none of yours.” With another sexy snort, he loomed over her. “You ever actually worked the land, princess? It’s not airy-fairy spirituality. It’s heavy lifting and dirt under your nails.”  He held a broad, dirt-stained palm before her face and wiggled his fingers. Immediately, her imagination zoomed to how those powerful hands would feel on her bare skin, their rough scrape raising goosebumps of pleasure. Would he be a forceful lover? Brutal, even? Or perhaps surprisingly tender?

   Giving her head a little shake, she took his hand and inspected his palm. “Interesting Mount of Venus.” She rubbed the base of his thumb. “Nice and fleshy.”

   She had his attention now. People loved being told about themselves. With narrowed eyes, he peered at the spot she was massaging. “Mount of Venus? What does that mean?”

   “Fullness here shows you’re passionate, sensual. And see this mark? Like a little X?”

   He squinted, rumpling his eyebrows adorably.

   “This means you have a lot of love to give.” She was only quoting the many books on palmistry she’d studied, but a skeptic like him would probably assume she was just spouting pickup lines.

   But now, he simply held her gaze for a long, heated moment. His nostrils flared, but whatever snarky comment he concocted remained behind his tightly pressed lips.

   Focus. Plan. Expo. She forced her shoulders down. “So why not share some of that love with Zora and me? You help us with new products for the Esoteric Expo, and we’ll help you with new customers for your herbs.” See? Practical, logical—just the way you like it, stubborn Taurus.

Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/bMYOr8

Fascinating, Sadira. Thanks so much for sharing. Your anthology soujnds wonderful.

Please tell us a little about yourself…

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, spent most of my adult life in Germany, first as a soldier and then as a teacher on U.S. military bases, moved to Washington State, and recently relocated to Las Vegas to be near my first grandchild. No pets at the moment except my adorable granddogs, two short-haired mini dachshunds. Married to a wonderful guy—ours is a late-in-life love story. One gorgeous, talented daughter from a previous marriage, and one handsome, smart stepson.

I adore writing steamy contemporary romance. Some authors and readers prefer to flee reality in favor of fantasy worlds, but I love plumbing the depths of life in our times—the heartache, the humor, the passion. Themes you’ll find in any Sadira Stone book: heroines who reject confining traditions and roles, and the complex men who cherish them—also chosen family, family reconciliation, and lots of food!

Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?

I’m a retired high school teacher—English, French, German, theater. I loved some of the kids like my own, but the constant bureaucracy, negativity, and pointless “educational initiatives” wore me down.

What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?

I just don’t get the appeal of most reality TV. What’s the point? I do like cooking competitions, though.

Do you collect anything?

Crystals and semi-precious stones. Pretty rocks are cool!

What was your first job?

Church secretary. Not fun.

What’s the main thing that you could get rid of in your life that would give you more writing time?

Housework! Alas, the floors don’t clean themselves.

What do you want readers to come away with after they read Zodiac Encounters?

A big, satisfied smile. 😉

What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?

I’ve written, but never published, some slightly sexy cozy romance—but experts in that genre tell me cozy readers want zero sex in their stories. Hmmph. Cozy romantic suspense? I’ll find a bookshelf for them someday.

What is your favorite quote?

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here, we might as well dance.

Is there one subject you would never write about? What is it?

I don’t enjoy reading dark stories, so I’ll never write about a character being tortured, abused, etc.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

She had a blast.

About the Author:

Award-winning contemporary romance author Sadira Stone spins steamy, smoochy tales set in small businesses—a quirky bookstore, a neighborhood bar, a vintage boutique… Her stories highlight found family, friendship, and the sizzling chemistry that pulls unlikely partners together. When she emerges from her writing cave in Las Vegas, Nevada (which she seldom does), she can be found in belly dance class, or strumming her ukulele, perhaps exploring the West with her charming husband, or cooking up a storm, and always gobbling all the romance books. For a guaranteed HEA (and no cliffhangers!) visit Sadira at sadirastone.com.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release

#HobbyCareerPassion: Maria Imbalzano ~ Baking May Not Be My Forte, But I Love It! & New Release: Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles #WRPgrp #Blog #AHAgrp

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Maria Imbalzano…

Baking May Not Be My Forte, But I Love It!

 

I’ve always hated to cook, but I love to bake. The reason is simple: I have a sweet-tooth and licking the bowl, beaters, spoon or spatula is far superior than tasting some sauce or chicken and veggie concoction.

Every year during the holidays, my mom, daughters and I bake Christmas cookies. When my mom was in charge, they all came out perfectly. We made butter balls, chocolate walnut, chocolate chip and kiefle (a square of thin pastry dough stuffed with a nut mixture, lekvar or apricot jam). While my mom, who is now 94, still supervises, she doesn’t jump in and help. Unfortunately, my cookies never come out as good as hers did, and after a few years I gave up on the kiefle. My dough was never thin enough and I didn’t have the patience to keep rolling it out after it stuck to the rolling pin or cutting board.

The problem with my baking in general is that I’m a little casual with quantities. My mother, daughters and husband have all commented on my methods of measuring water, flour, sugar etc. and my response to anything that doesn’t come out quite right is “oh well.”

My heroine, Bella, in “Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles” has a little bit of me in her. She’s a lawyer who lost her job in Manhattan and returns home to Princeton over the holidays to regroup. She learns that her parents’ gift shop in town is failing and she comes up with the idea to turn it into a cookie cottage.

Her parents bristle at the idea at first, but realize they may not have a business if they don’t change. In an effort to bolster the new cookie cottage during the holidays, Bella suggests that her father video her and her mom baking—with Bella making all kinds of mistakes. These videos will be posted on TikTok in an effort to reach a broader audience.

In order to write this scene, I researched common mistakes in baking – most of which I make. Who knew there was a proper technique for measuring flour? Apparently, you spoon it into the measuring cup instead of dipping the measuring cup into the flour bag, because no one wants excess flour causing a crumbly cookie. And too much sugar makes cookies brittle. You wouldn’t want others to break their teeth on over-sweetened treats. Not thoroughly creaming the butter and sugar results in flat, dense cookies instead of the more appealing light and fluffy ones. Not chilling the dough when called for means the batter will spread quickly and aggressively once in the oven. Presumably no one wants an aggressive cookie.

And the mortal sin of baking—using liquid measuring cups to measure dry ingredients. Or vice versa. So much to learn. Perhaps Bella and I will take heed. Perhaps not.

But one thing is for sure. “Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles” is a heartwarming holiday romance that will squeeze your heart and make you smile. And it might even make you head to the kitchen to make Christmas cookies.

Maria’s cookies in Santa Plate

Find the recipe here:

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/231745/red-velvet-crinkle-cookies/ 

 

Blurb:

Competitive, work-obsessed Bella Simonetti has just been fired from her high-paying job at a Manhattan law firm. At an all-time low, she returns home and helps her parents at their small-town gift shop, but the business is failing and may not make it past the Christmas holidays.

Successful landscape architect Dean Jackson is like a son to Bella’s parents. But he’s a persistent annoyance to her—he seems to have forgotten his unforgivable blunder thirteen years earlier.

When Bella transforms her parents’ gift shop into a cookie cottage, Dean’s generosity and magnetic smile are hard to resist, and those feelings of unrequited adolescent love come rushing back. But can Bella let go of the past and accept Dean for the man he is today?

 Excerpt:

 “I agree with Dean. Barb’s Gift Cottage has been in Princeton for thirty years. You don’t decide one day to revamp the entire business. Get rid of the old, make way for the new. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Bella bit her tongue before responding, reminding herself to stay cool. “Okay. I’m open to anything. Let’s talk about your ideas to stay afloat.” She sat, poised with her pad in front of her, pen in hand.

Silence.

She looked directly at her dad first, eyebrow arched. “I’m listening.” Then she scanned over to Dean.

Her gaze moved up to his eyes—sea green in the harsh kitchen light but beautiful just the same.

His gaze locked with hers and held her hostage— an unwilling prisoner to his warden. All ire morphed into a swirling eddy of primal lust, and she felt herself disappearing into his aura. She needed to save herself as well as her ego. Fighting the pull, she surfaced, blinking to clear her eyes, inhaling to bring her back to the present.

She disconnected and glanced at her parents. Had they noticed she’d been missing?

The smallest smile quirked Dean’s lips—surely acknowledging her lapse into Dean-land. She reached for the annoyance she’d let slip from her grasp and pulled it back into her arsenal.

Buy links: 

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09FYVGDWR

Barnes and Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-velvet-crinkles-and-christmas-sprinkles-maria-imbalzano/1140147130?ean=2940162321644

Apple

https://books.apple.com/us/book/red-velvet-crinkles-and-christmas-sprinkles/id1585527197

 

About Maria:

Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.

Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award. Two of her novellas, “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” and “A Song For Another Day” won first place awards in their categories in the NEST (National Excellence in Story Telling) contest. Both of these novellas were also finalists for the Beverley Award.

Visit Maria at http://www.mariaimbalzano.com

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/mariaimbalzanoauthor

Twitter

http://www.twitter.com/mariaimbalzano

@mariaimbalzano

Instagram: Mariaimbalzano_author

Blog Link

http://www.mariaimbalzano.com/category/blog/

Website Link

http://www.mariaimbalzano.com

Goodreads Author Page

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7276749.Maria_Imbalzano

Book Bub Profile page

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/maria-imbalzano

Mailing List Sign Up form

https://mariaimbalzano.com/sign-up-for-my-newsletter/

Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00FG9RI5K

 

19 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release

#HobbyCareerPassion: Debby Grahl ~ Sundae My Love ~ at Sand Lake, Where Ghosts Bring Two Lovers Back Together ~ #WRPgrp #Blog #AHAgrp

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Debby Grahl…

Sundae My Love – at Sand Lake,

Where Ghosts Bring  Two Lovers Back Together 

 Hi, I’m Samantha Murray, and Sundae My Love is the story of my family’s ice cream business. The Murrays have called Sand Lake, in the Irish Hills of Michigan, home since the nineteen fifties.

After my grandparents retired, I took over the running of the Dairy Delight. Lake-goers have enjoyed our Neapolitan Nectar milk shake for generations, but now Zack Hunter, the love of my life and the man who broke my heart, is back in town and threatens my business.

Hey there, I’m Zack Hunter, and I also grew up on Sand Lake. I left to go to college out west and have returned with a degree in architecture. You see, my grandparents built Frontier Town, a tourist attraction near the lake. The buildings have stood empty for years, and it’s been my dream to restore them and add an old-fashioned ice cream shop. The problem is the land I need to use adjoins the Dairy Delight. I have to confess I messed up pretty badly and hurt Samantha when I left. But I’ve realized my mistake, and I’m home and plan on winning back the woman I love.

When Wild Rose Press requested stories for their Two Scoops or One anthology, I knew my family’s home on Sand Lake was the perfect setting. Even though I’ve changed the characters’ names, the people actually exist. The house, built in the late nineteenth century, is as I describe, including the ghosts. I haven’t seen them, but, along with my cousins, we’ve heard them. Doors slam, floorboards creak, and footsteps go up and down the stairs.

Across the lake on US 12, there’s a drive-up ice cream shop, and down the road the empty buildings of a frontier town still stand. When I was young, my cousins and I would sit in the saloon wearing our western shirts and moccasins drinking root beer. We’d hop on the stagecoach which was always held up by outlaws. 

The Irish Hills is a rural area in southeast Michigan. There’s farm land, a number of lakes, woods of maples and oaks and dogwoods. I now live on Hilton Head Island, SC, but each summer I go home to the lake where I enjoy spending time with all my cousins, going out for ice cream, and reminiscing about growing up in such a beautiful place.

Can ancestral ghosts bring Samantha and Zack back together to fulfill all their dreams?

Sundae My Love Blurb

As manager of the Dairy Delight, Samantha Murray is dismayed to discover her past love is back and plans on building a rival business next door.

Zack Hunter returns to Sand Lake to win back Samantha and fulfill his grandfather’s dreams by restoring Frontier Town, a tourist attraction once owned by his grandparents, and adding an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.

Samantha is heartbroken over Zack’s past betrayal and struggles, conflicted over the love she can’t deny, but resolved to stop his building plans.

Zack is torn between his love for Samantha and his determination to follow through with his grandfather’s legacy.

Convinced the two are desperately in need of help, the family ghosts intervene to bring them together and solve their differences.

Sundae My Love excerpt

In the living room, a female shape materialized. Her     long dress swirled around her ankles, and the heels of  her high button shoes tapped across the hardwood floor. “Good grief, Angus, I wanted you to make them meet on  the lake, not have Zack run Samantha down,” Patricia Murray said with exasperation.

In a Queen Anne style chair, a male form appeared. “Patricia, it wasn’t my fault. Thaddeus was sitting next  to Zack and took control of the wheel.” He removed his pipe from his shirt pocket. Puffs of translucent smoke soon filled the room. “But it worked out.”

Hands on her hips, Patricia glowered. “Worked out! Are you kidding? What should have been a romantic reunion has made Samantha even more upset.” Patricia shook her head. “Samantha and Zack are perfect for  each other. It’s beyond me why that boy broke her heart and now is making matters worse by threatening the  Dairy Delight.” She narrowed her eyes. “You don’t seem too surprised over Zack’s plans. Did you already know about this?”

Angus squirmed in his seat. “Ah, well.”

“You did. Angus Murray, I can see it in your eyes. You’ve known all about this and didn’t tell me. This is why you’ve been gone so much lately. I’ll bet you and Thaddeus have been over there watching every move he’s made.”

“The boy is doing a top-rate job restoring the buildings. I can’t tell you how pleased Thaddeus is. You  know how much that place meant to him.”

“What about Zack’s disregard for Samantha and the  Dairy Delight?”

“Patricia, we’ve watched over our family for three generations. And no matter what problem occurs, they manage to work it out.”

Patricia threw up her arms in exasperation. “Sometimes situations need to be helped along. Samantha is on her way to confront Zack. Go over there and see what happens.”

“You want me to spy on my great-great-granddaughter?”

“Yes. It’s for her own good.”

 “Why don’t you go?”

“Because Thaddeus is your friend, not mine.      Besides, I promised Virginia Bradly I’d visit this afternoon. You know how lonely she gets when her  family is gone.”

Angus sighed, then stood. He placed his pipe in his pocket, adjusted his suspenders, straightened his bow tie, kissed his wife’s cheek, and vanished.

  Amazon Author Page — https://www.amazon.com/Debby-Grahl/e/B00B34HM26

 

Bio:

Debby lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach and a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are New Orleans, New York City, Captiva Island in Florida, the Cotswolds of England, and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and, of course, romance. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books.

Sundae My Love, in the Two Scoops or One anthology from The Wild Rose Press, will be  released June 30. Her other books  are Mountain Blaze, His Magic Touch, Decorated to Death, Rue Toulouse, and The Silver Crescent.

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/debbygrahlauthor?ref=br_rs

 

8 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release

#HobbyCareerPassion: “Dance to a Wylder Beat” ~ Author Marilyn Barr ~ Leather Tanning #WRPgrp #Blog #AHAgrp

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Marilyn Barr…

Leather Tanning

Nartan Sagebrush has the most revolting job in Wylder, Wyoming Territory but in 1878, his prospects were limited when he chose to join the setters instead of head to the reservation. As an Arapaho Shamanic apprentice, Nartan grew up enjoying his vision quests in the forest and the freedom to follow the bison as they migrated around the US. However, in 1874, this all changed. The US Government placed his tribe on reservations and banned the teaching of all Shamanic practices. Nartan and his brother, Ikshu, claimed a piece of Wylder and struggled their way to a thriving leather tanning business, sheep flock, and homestead.

Nartan Sagebrush lacked the chemicals used for commercial leather tanning (invented around 1902), so he relied on cow brains and urine to soften the skins. He’s ahead of his time in that he creates a system of vats and frames so three skins are ready for shipping every day even though only two men are working. Every day six skins, staggered three and three, are rotated through vats of urine. When they are pliable the skins are stretched on frames to dry in the sun. This is the worst smelling part. Three skins are dry each morning and ready for tufting (hair removal) and fleshing. Nartan describes the way his new bride, Olive, fleshes leather in Dance to a Wylder Beat:

“The steer’s horn handle of the flesher looks longer than her forearm. I always thought I made the tool too small, but maybe I serendipitously made it for her. Her tiny hand almost fits around it. She kneels before the hide and begins to hammer the center with deft strokes. She has the perfect corner angle to release the fats and flesh from the skin. It rolls into a neat coil using the same gravity that pulls my jaw to the ground.”

 Just when the smell of urine threatens to burn off her nose, Nartan introduces her to the next step in tanning. Braining. Nartan doesn’t have the land for a cattle herd, so he barters lamb chops and steaks to the butcher for cow brains. From the brain, he makes the conditioning liquid which changes rawhide to leather.

“Olive, to her credit, doesn’t flinch when I scoop the sheep’s brain from its skull and add it to the boiling fat. She even holds the scalp back so I can use two hands. It isn’t until we added the half-pound of soap shavings and cedar oil the smell subsided.”

The braining fluid must be massaged into the leather before fluffing which breaking up any hardening parts of the skins. If tanning leather is gross, how does the leather itself smell so good? The secret is in the final step where the leather is smoked. Nartan uses a mixture of spruce and hemlock wood chips in a smoking teepee. Nartan is proud of the finished product and the business he has built around it. However, it will take a special type of woman to appreciate his efforts. Will Olive live in the stench for him? Find out in Dance to a Wylder Beat.

He was uncomfortable in his skin before she crawled under it. Now he burns…

Blurb:

Nartan Sagebrush’s name may mean “to dance” in Arapaho, but he dances in secret. Forced to abandon his Shamanic apprenticeship, he is overwhelmed with homesteader life, and even his spirit guides are at their wit’s end. Nartan takes fate into his own hands. Instead of divine intervention, a wife will help with his responsibilities and in assimilating into the Wylder community. 

Olive Muegge answers Nartan’s “wife wanted” advertisement. Fiercely independent, she has secretly dreamed of a family to call her own. The secret she carries inside makes her an outcast and her wild ways don’t fit the quiet wife Nartan thinks he desires.  

Despite their differences, they are drawn to each other but a mistake may drive them apart.  Will Nartan embrace his Shamanic past to save them both or will he choose to rid himself of Olive forever? 

Excerpt:

When I turn back, the men are wrestling in a cloud of dust. Dead Eyes’ friends hoot like owls while a small crowd gathers around the scene. Being half-drunk, Dead Eyes is two steps slower than Nartan, who is landing punches on both sides. When Dead Eyes slams his gun on the ground in surrender, the dust settles, and I can study my future husband.

Nartan’s muscular body straddles the smaller man while his broad chest billows. His hat has blown off in the scuffle, revealing two thick black braids adorned with feathers. Tendrils of raven-black hair wave around his head. “Quiet wife for a quiet life” my bloomin’ butt. This man is a sweet lick of passion wrapped in a delicious exterior. I think I’m gonna like being Mrs. Sagebrush just fine. I can handle an odd stick as long as he has the countenance of Nartan because I’m not as normal as I appear myself.

Author Bio:

Marilyn Barr currently resides in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband, son, and rescue cats. She has a diverse background containing experiences as a child prodigy turned medical school reject, published microbiologist, special education/inclusion science teacher, homeschool mother of a savant, certified spiritual & energy healer, and advocate for the autistic community. This puts her in the position to bring tales containing heroes who are regular people with different ability levels and body types, in a light where they are powerful, lovable, and appreciated.

When engaging with the real world, she is collecting characters, empty coffee cups, and unused homeschool curricula. She is a sucker (haha) for cheesy horror movies, Italian food, punk music, black cats, bad puns, and all things witchy.

Social Media Links:

website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Amazon author profile

Goodreads

BookBub

10 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release

How to Catch An Editor’s Eye, or Ear, or Heart by Editor Kaycee John ~ #AHAgrp #Blog

How to Catch An Editor’s Eye, or Ear, or Heart

Writing is difficult, and rewarding. It is lonely, and feeds the creative urge we were all born with. For some it looks easy, effortless. For others, writing is like pregnancy: never ending in the duration and brutally painful in the delivery. In the end it is the best feeling in the world when you hold your ‘baby’ in your hands.

Presenter Bio:

Published author and editor Kaycee John honed her presentation skills the same way she learned most of life’s lessons–the hard way.

As the director of a victim advocacy agency she often found herself standing at the front of classrooms filled with raw police recruits, women’s studies and criminal justice majors, and emergency medicine providers, dispelling the myths that surround sex crimes and teaching effective techniques for dealing with victims of violence. Then came press conferences, op ed pieces for the local papers and news bites on the nightly news. All this while raising three terrific kids and working weekends as a nursing supervisor.

These days she speaks from a different POV: as a once fledgling author who survived the trenches of rejection and learned how to turn her stories into award winners. She knows the pain of less than encouraging comments from contest judges and acquiring editors so is determined to pay it forward and help others turn so-so submissions into contract offers.

  1. Follow the rules of the publisher you are submitting to. If they ask for a double space partial, one inch margins on all four sides, written in Courier or Times New Roman font, do it. If they don’t publish inspirational or erotica, do not submit the hottest, sexiest thing ever to come down the pike because it’s the best thing you’ve ever written and all your pals think it’s the bomb. If the publisher asks for a partial [usually the first three chapters not to exceed fifty pages], send the first three chapters and don’t go over fifty pages. Trying an end-run doesn’t work.
  1. Great characters are unique and believable, right down to the warts on their big toes. They hang with interesting people and live in cool places–real or invented. And while we’re talking about where a character lives, treat the setting as another character in the book. For each lead, use their choices in food, movies/TV, reading for pleasure, sports heroes [or anti-sports] and style of underwear as a way to flesh them out. Don’t be afraid to take risks. A woman who routinely dresses in severe dark colored suits, ankle breaker heels and pristine white blouses paints a picture of a no-nonsense ball-buster career woman. What if she wears sheer lingerie underneath the suit, or maybe none at all. What if that same no-nonsense professional is drawn to a man in hip-hugging jeans, wrinkled flannel shirt over a ratty t-shirt and muddy boots? To me, her tastes in men make her a three dimensional character over a woman who plays it safe by sticking to her side of the professional fence. Trust me, opposites do attract in real life and in fiction.
  1. Keep things, like the setting, simple. Draw yourself a map if you like and refer to it as often as you need in order to keep characters’ actions logical and purposeful. On this map, mark in the churches, schools, laundromat, bars, post office and grocery stores. Have a working knowledge of what the area is like during each season. There’s nothing worse than an author who has her characters taking a quick dip in the outdoor pool in the middle of May in Western New York. As a long-term resident of Western New York, NO ONE deliberately swims in an outdoor pool at this time of year–unless they certifiable or card carrying members of the local Polar Bear club.
  1. Pay attention to the voices of each character, both primary and secondary. A person with little formal education or who is still in their teens is not often going to use multi-syllabic words–unless they possess an off the scale IQ. As an editor I don’t need to be reaching for a dictionary because I don’t know what a word means. Likewise, don’t have each character use the same vernacular. For example, the word “Aye-yuh” is a commonly used phrase in Central New York where I was raised. Perhaps in reality every adult in the small town of Fabius NY says “Aye-yuh” when trying to convey they agree or understand what the speaker is saying. As much as I don’t like reaching for a dictionary; I don’t like needing a score card in order to keep characters straight.
  1. Build the story around characters who have well-defined Goals, Motivation and Conflict. If a character doesn’t have a logical and realistic goal, with logical and realistic motivation, I don’t want to read about them. If a story doesn’t have conflict, internal and external, don’t send it my way. To simplify: Hannah Heroine wants ____ [goal] because ______ [motivation] but ______ is preventing her from achieving or attaining that goal [conflict]. It works really well if Henry the Hero has goals and motivation which are in direct conflict with what Hannah wants.
  1. I’d like to talk a bit about sexual tension. If you plan a romance or perhaps a romantic suspense, carefully and slowly work the attraction into the story. Personal interest is one thing–and is important to mention by the time page 20 has rolled around. Don’t have your characters, especially those who just met five minutes ago, be thinking about what the other looks like naked. Too Much Too Soon.
  1. Show don’t tell. Don’t tell me Allison, age fifty, is exhausted and leave it there. Show me her pale, pinched features; the slow drag in her gait and slumped posture. Don’t tell me the meal Hannah and Henry shared was delicious. Show me the juices seeping from the cut of steak, the steam rising from Henry’s baked potato, the burst of tart cranberries filling Hannah’s mouth with the first bite of a fresh from the oven muffin. It might be cold as a witch’s butt in Western New York in February. Show me the frost on the windows, the impassable roads and bitter bone-wracking chills that make sleep impossible.
  1. Point of View. On a personal level, I prefer reading third person POV. As an editor, first person makes me sigh and ask ‘why did the author do this?’. Omniscient POV–like some unseen, all knowing being floats over the action, telling the reader what each characters thinks and feels, gnashes my molars into dust. And head hopping makes me nuts. Some NYT’s multi-published authors pull it off–and do it well. When you’re first starting out, keep it simple. Stay in one character’s head. It’s safer for all concerned.
  1. Passive Voice. In the words of Stephen King: adverbs are not our friends. Please don’t have a character ‘jokingly ask’ or ‘laughingly remark’. Let them joke–straight out. Have them laugh, long, loud and deep. Keep the adverbs in the desk drawer where they belong. Make your sentences strong and active. Keep ‘was’ ‘were’ ‘could’ ‘would’ out of your prose.

Examples: Jane could hear the fear in Dick’s voice. BETTER: Jane heard fear in her lover’s voice, saw angst in his furrowed brow and hunched shoulders.

Dick was standing there, waiting impassively for the train to arrive. BETTER: Frozen in place,  Dick waited in line with the rest of the late evening commuters for the last train to arrive.

  1. Please, please, please remember: evaluation of any submission is one person’s opinion. Before I am an editor, I am a reader. If a story doesn’t grab me, I’m likely not going to offer a contract. Following the Wild Rose Press philosophy, as well as my own, it’s my job to tell a reader why the story doesn’t ‘work’ for me. It’s not personal. But . . . if different people, such as critique partners or other editors are saying the same thing about your writing, pay attention to it. As one person, my opinion might be off the wall; three people who make the same observation make a difference. Listen.

Lastly, here are two excellent references for authors, new and maybe not so new:

Revision and Self Editing by James Scott Bell

Fire Up Your Fiction by Jodie Renner.  Both are excellent sources.

 

Thanks for letting me run my mouth, Alicia. It’s been great.

8 Comments

Filed under For Writers

#HobbyCareerPassion: “A Passion for Honor” ~ Author Alina K. Field ~ The Comtesse of Midnight, in Storm & Shelter, a Blue Stocking Belles Collection with Friends #Blog #AHAgrp

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guest, Alina K. Field…

A Passion for Honor

Susenier, Abraham; A Storm at Sea; The Fitzwilliam Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/a-storm-at-sea-5530

Malcolm Comyn, the hero of The Comtesse of Midnight, my contribution to Storm & Shelter, A Bluestocking Belles and Friends Collection, has had little time to pursue hobbies or distractions. His duties as the Earl of Menteith running his Scottish estate have occupied most of his time since the death of his father a year earlier. He’s barely had time to pursue the ladies—until now, when he’s in pursuit of a very particular lady, The Comtesse de Fontenay.

Weeks earlier, an anonymous threatening letter led him to London, and a search for both the author of the letter and the truth of his birth. For if he isn’t the true Earl of Menteith, by all honor, the title should go to his cousin, Finnley Macbeth.

Though he can’t uncover the source of the threats, he does find evidence that the woman who gave birth to him was not the last Countess of Menteith, but a French émigré, wife of the Comte de Fontenay, his late father’s mistress.

Honor demands he uncover the truth, whatever it might be. His quest leads him through Sussex and Kent and finally into Suffolk where in the midst of a terrible storm, he goes to the aid of a lady smuggler, helping her save the last of her cargo. With the roads impassable, they find their way to the isolated town of Fenwick on Sea. When the lady refuses to share her name, he senses that she is also running from scandal. With the inn completely filled with refugees from the storm, he and his anonymous new companion agree to wait out the storm together in the parlor of the dilapidated Elizabethan wing of the Queen’s Barque Inn.

Malcolm has no quarrel with the lady’s free trading of spirits, nor any need to uncover the secret she’s running from. But, when he wakes to find her going through his belongings, he presses her for her name. What he learns brings him to the end of his quest, an old enemy, and a promise of a future he never expected.

Blurb:

A Scottish Earl on a quest for the elusive Comtesse de Fontenay, rescues a French lady smuggler during a devastating storm, taking shelter with her. As the stormy night drags on, he suspects she knows the lady he’s seeking, the lady who holds the secret to his identity. When she admits she herself is the Comtesse Fontenay, she dashes all his hopes—and promises him new ones.

Blurb for the Collection:

When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

Pre-order now for 99 cents:

Excerpt

The Scotsman, however, was dead on his feet. She could almost feel sorry for him. He was far from home, and had been traveling for several days. His neckcloth was limp, his cuffs soiled, his coat wrinkled. His boots, well and carefully crafted, if not by Hoby then by some equally fashionable bootmaker in Edinburgh, had not been properly polished in the last few days.

He’d shaved though, probably very early that morning, because a delicious dark stubble had sprouted along his strong jaws.

Did he have a razor in his interesting valise? She wouldn’t molest him, unless he thought to do the same to her. If it came to that, and she prayed that it wouldn’t, she would use her own blade and not some unfamiliar shaving instrument.

“Is this one of your imports?” he asked, swirling the amber liquid. “It’s very good.”

His words stirred her out of her imaginings about handsome young men, and she realized she must manage the conversation else she’d slip into sleep, or perhaps something more inconvenient, without thinking.

The Comte had always succumbed to sleep when they’d conversed, no matter the topic. She must soothe this fine-looking and very fatigued man the same way.

Outside, the thunderstorm had moved on, and the rain pounded in a comforting downpour. With the warm fire, and the heavy blankets, and the sleeping dog, it was quite cozy.

But what to talk about? Most certainly not the free trade. It would be far too diverting to put him to sleep, and besides she had no idea what he would do with the knowledge.

The countryside? She might slip and drop a hint about her home at Bloodmoor Hill.

She thought back to her time on the fringes of a London society that she’d found unbearably dull.

The weather.

“I am glad you are enjoying the brandy,” she said. “But I daresay you are not liking this weather. It is quite the worst storm in many seasons, people are saying. Normally at this time of year the sea has quietened.” A lie, of course, but how would he know?

He sipped his drink, eyeing her over the glass.

Oh. Given that it might remind him of her activities that evening and spark questions, the sea was an inappropriate topic, whether or not one was fudging a weather report. “Winters, however are generally mild.”

He yawned, and she went on, discussing the number of rainstorms in March and going back to February, and then January, and making up the story as she went along, until his eyes drooped and the empty glass fell into his lap and lodged itself next to his fall.

Warmth uncurled in her. His trousers were tight in the usual fashion for gentlemen, outlining masculine endowments that sparked her interest far too much. Retrieving the fallen tumbler was out of the question.

She set down her own glass and fought the urge to join him in slumber.

Buy links:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3kgRmLG

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3lZYHja

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/storm-shelter-bluestocking-belles/1137958115

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3o0z977

About Alina:

Award-winning and USA Today bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but she prefers the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California where she shares a midcentury home with her husband and a golden-eyed terrier, and is hard at work on her next historical romance.

website  https://alinakfield.com

Blog https://alinakfield.com/blog

Twitter https://twitter.com/AlinaKField

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/alinakfield

MeWe: https://mewe.com/i/alinakfield

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/alinakf/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/alinak.field/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7173518.Alina_K_Field

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alina-k-field

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Alina-K.-Field/e/B00DZHWOKY

Get to know Alina K. Field better by signing up for an email newsletter https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/z6q6e3

 

3 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release

#HobbyCareerPassion: Jennifer Wilck ~ A Reckless Heart

Welcome to my weekly feature where authors share about the hobbies, careers, or passions of their characters.

I’m pleased to introduce today’s guests, Jennifer Wilck and Simon McAlter…

I’m Simon McAlter, and I’m the hero of Jennifer Wilck’s latest romance, A Reckless Heart. Ha! Just writing that line makes me uncomfortable. Hero? No, I’m not a hero. If I were, I would have been able to save my family. And a romance? Not with this face. Jennifer told me I had to write about my passion, which is landscape architecture. I wanted to tell her, “You’re the author, you do it.” But since she is the author, that means she can get rid of me, probably easier than she was able to create me, so it’s in my best interest to listen to her. Not to mention, it gives me a reason to hide in my office while Meg, my way-too-pretty tenant, makes use of my house. She’s not supposed to be here, but the place she rented from me was damaged in the storm, and until it’s fixed, she’s here. So I’m trying to avoid her. Mostly unsuccessfully.

Anyway, landscape architecture. I’ve always loved plants and nature. Their beauty, their medicinal elements, their ability to thrive in the harshest conditions. When I went to college, I studied plants, learned computer design programs, and worked with master gardeners and architects. I learned how to design landscaping that compliments existing buildings and natural features. I thrived, and became more successful than I could have possibly imagined. I traveled to Europe and Asia, and brought my knowledge back home. I’ve designed college campuses, palace gardens, and city parks. I teach students to create beauty. My favorite thing to do is dig in the dirt and see my designs come to life.

My accident changed everything, though. The scarring on my hands makes fine motor skill difficult. Luckily for me, I found a therapy garden, and worked on my hands while designing plantings for the botanical garden. In the beginning, they scheduled my work when people weren’t there—not because of my face, although I was happy not to have anyone see it, but because I, um, tend to curse a lot when things don’t go my way, and they were afraid I’d scare off everyone else. Probably right—what my face doesn’t scare away, my language does. The therapy helped not only my hands but my mind. I created a garden that when fully in bloom, looks like flames. And in the process, I made the nightmares disappear.

I still have fine motor difficulties, but my hands are probably as healed as they’ll ever be. Things take me longer, but I get them done. I avoid people as much as possible. This solitary life on the Maine coast suits me well. I teach my students remotely, design plans—both lesson and garden—on my computer, and live as full a life as possible.

Only lately, my designs are lacking inspiration. I’m supposed to helping the town library committee develop a garden on the property next to them. Somehow, they want to buy the land, rather than let the town sell it to condo developers, and use it for a community garden. My friend, Claire, asked me to design something, and I said yes. Except, every time I sit down to work on it, my mind blanks. Even the designs I’ve made for clients in the past few years are dull. Claire tells me I need to get out more. Yeah, right. One look at my face and everyone runs screaming.

Except Meg. She doesn’t run from me. I wonder why.

 

Blurb:

Meg Thurgood, former society girl, took the blame for her friend and paid a steep price. Now all she wants is solitude and a chance to rebuild her life. She thinks she’s found that in an isolated house she rents from a mysterious stranger.

Simon McAlter has hidden in his house on the coast of Maine since a fire left him scarred. A successful landscape architect who conducts his business and teaches his classes remotely, he’s lost his inspiration and is trying to pretend he’s not lonely. 

Simon’s new neighbor is more than he bargained for. When he learns Meg’s secret, will he retreat into the shadows or will he learn to see past the surface and trust in Meg’s love? 

Excerpt:

Meg spoke. “These gardens are beautiful.”

“Want to see what I planted when I was here?”

His work was here? “I’d love to.” She hadn’t seen any of his finished projects, just his plans. She was eager to see what he’d done. He led her once again toward the pavilion. In one area, sweeping in an arc, were leafy plants and flowers. At first glance, they looked as if they’d landed there any old way, but as she studied them, a pattern and a purpose emerged. Varying shades of greens and golds merged with reds and oranges.

She gasped. “They look like flames! They’re beautiful.”

He smiled. “When they’re in full bloom in the summer, you can see the design more clearly.”

He’d created this because of his accident. To think he’d intentionally planted to make a thing of beauty out of destruction…her chest swelled, and she blinked away unwanted moisture. She wrapped her arms around him. “Does it help you to look at it?”

He shrugged. “Now, it matters less to me. Then? I needed to remove the image from my mind and this formation helped. Instead of seeing the fire that destroyed my family, I turned those visions into something that created life—flowers that stunned and soothed at the same time. Plus, the ability to do the work myself was therapeutic as well.”

“You’re amazing.” She looked around, turning in a slow circle. “I don’t think I could ever do anything like this.” The car accident and flash bulbs flickered in her mind once again. What beauty could she possibly create from her experience?

He massaged his hand. “Took way longer than it should.”

“And probably involved a lot of cursing.”

Simon huffed. “In the beginning, I made sure to only be here alone. Toward the end, Jed allowed a few select people to work here at the same time as me. But never children. Because, you know, language.”


He draped his arm around her as they meandered along the pathways. At the sound of voices, Meg turned toward them, but Simon steered them away from the other visitors.

She wanted to protest, to convince him he had nothing to fear from strangers, but she acquiesced. She, of all people, understood his fear. Instead, she followed him and absorbed the beauty of the flowers and the gentle scents that mixed and mingled around them.

Bio:

Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with her family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open in the first place. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.

She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.jenniferwilck.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Wilck-201342863240160/

Newsletter: https://www.jenniferwilck.com/contact.html#newsletter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JWilck

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorjenniferwilck/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jennifer-wilck

 

21 Comments

Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, Hobbies...Careers...Passions, New Release